September - October 2017
  • Day35

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    October 9, 2017 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 8 °C

    And welcome back to Canada 🇨🇦 for these bikers.

    We have a lot to be thankful for. A great trip to France , cycling over 1000 km, 25 different beds 🛏️ (most really hard 🤐), LOTS of sights and experiences. And back home healthy and happy 😊. Many, many thanks ❤️.

    The bikes made it to Vancouver none the worse for wear, so all good there.

    And same for the travelers. The flight was smooth and on time, we cycled back to the hotel where we left our car, put the bikes on the rack and got to the ferry in lots of time. Glad we had that reservation on a long weekend.

    Home feels great 🏡! Our own shower 🛁, own bed 🛌. Ahhh! Probably won't have fresh croissants in the morning, but time for a change anyway.

    Looking forward to connecting with friends and family....non-digitally 😁.
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  • Day35

    Final day in Paree

    October 9, 2017 in France ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    Didn't try to cram in last minute stuff. Just took it easy and enjoyed the day.

    Another market right outside our hotel. More of the same from the other day but always fun to check out.

    Then up onto the Promenade Plantee and walked along the part we didn't see the other day. It's really great. The use it gets! Including joggers of course 🏃...what a good option in downtown Paris.

    Yesterday we had checked out the route we'd take to the airport so we headed down to the Seine again, this time with our bikes loaded 🚵. Pas de problem. And before we caught the train we met up with someone we hadn't seen in 16 years....

    Gregoire had stayed with us on an exchange program for 4 months when he was in grade 11. Kirsten then stayed with his French family later in the year. They've kept in touch, and we had a really good time getting caught up on all his news. He's doing very well and looks great. He got married just one month ago....we didn't get to meet his new wife but Canada is on their radar in future.

    Then onto the regional train to the airport. Had to carry our bikes and baggage down, down, down, down lots of stairs. Turned out just fine with the pannier straps and my new light bike 😊. Thirty-five minutes later we're at the airport stop and walk a few hundred metres to our final hotel. Nice to be out here for the morning ...it'll be a long enough day anyway.
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  • Day34

    Poking around Paris...on bikes. 33 km

    October 8, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Can't be in Paris with bikes and not cycle along the Seine. So that's exactly what we did.

    We started out exploring the Bois de Vincennes right beside us. It's a 1000 ha park with....a chateau (of course), four lakes, veledrome, an English landscape garden, a zoo, an arboretum, a botanical garden, a hippodrome (horse-racing track), a velodrome, and more. Its about 3 times the size of NY's central park! Good old Napoleon III had good insight to the future. This is where the joggers come 🏃🏃🏃. It's criss-crossed with running paths, bike paths and walking trails over the whole thing. Great people watching when we stopped for our picnic beside a lake.

    Then on to find the Seine . Paris is a surprisingly bike friendly city, even with all the busy-ness. Our street has a bike path the whole way, separated with small concrete barriers so feels quite safe...tho you still must keep a lookout 👀. Before we know it there we are...a fantastic way to see the Seine. We thought we'd 'pop into' Notre Dame to compare it to others we've seen on this trip...hah 🤣. Paris doesn't slow down in October! And around the corner from Notre Dame was just a bustling! We snuck into an Irish bar for our one and only croque monsieur this trip (basically toasted ham and cheese). And a pint - Irish Gold. Then more wandering amongst the masses...pushing our bikes here.

    Had a special date tonight with our friends Mark and Diana...who came all the way to Paris to meet us for dinner at a cute bistro 😉. Lifestyles..... a fun time!
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  • Day32

    Poking around Paris

    October 6, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    A great day exploring this amazing city. A street market, an elevated linear park, the Marlais district, Picasso, wine beside the Seine, a huge shopping mall. Nailed the metro to get home 😊.

    The longest market in Paris (1385 m). Everything there...local fish/seafood and produce the most impressive.

    Promenade Plantee linear park...above the street along an old rail line...first one in the world. Very impressive, very pleasant green space in the heart of the city.

    Marlais district - full of cool architecture, art galleries, museums, Jewish culture. Went thru the Picasso museuam. Definitely an accomplished artist. We confirmed it's not our preferred style 🤑.

    Wandering thru the narrow streets among cool old buildings to the Seine. Watching the crazy traffic at an intersection beside the Seine...very entertaining. Most drivers don't follow the rules...scooters are especially aggressive. And no one seems to heed the ambulance and police sirens - maybe that explains why you hear them so much.

    Les Halles...a multi-tiered, multi-level, humungous mall. Lots of familiar stores amidst local French ones. This is where the young people are...same as at home!
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  • Day32

    Orleans to Paris

    October 6, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

    Petit-dejeuner was pretty good for a half-ass hotel 😄. So we got going later than planned to see the town before our train at 1 pm. Turned out to be plenty of time.

    The cathedral is excellent. We continue to be impressed with these amazing structures that encompass architecture, history, culture, religion and community.

    Next is the Maison Jeanne d'Arc...not open til 2. But try to find that out. For a key site in town you'd figure tourist info might know this? We learned too late that the museum was worth a visit. OK...cafe on the square it is ☕. And a ride on the carousel 🎠.

    Train to Paris went off without a hitch. We got that down 👍. And biking to our hotel went pretty well too. Happy to say it's an improvement over Orleans...esp good since we're here for 3 nights.

    Time to wash our socks again. Our previous experience, help from other friendly customers, and biere at the nearby sports bar while waiting, got us through.

    Check out the neighbourhood, find the marche, and dinner, wrapped up a good, full day.
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  • Day31

    Beaugency to Orleans. 48 km.

    October 5, 2017 in France ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    Last day of Loire countryside biking...and it was very good 😊. Nice tracks along the river, lots of riding up on the dykes. Sunny but cool today, no wind. We're gonna miss all this 😮.

    Lovely, tranquil lunch spot tucked away behind playing fields. A wetlands park 🏞️ with swans , ducks (the ubiquitous mallard), and birdsong.

    We extended our riding time continuing on the south side of the river...a huge park with the path all along.

    Then we could delay no longer and headed into Orleans. A big big city (.5 m) in comparison to where we've been. Bit of a shock to the system.

    Our crummy hotel didn't help with the transition. Had to move rooms twice because of fourmis 🐜 ...not impressed 😬. Landed finally on the third floor (3 winding staircases up) goodbye to ants, hello to road noise. Only time the whole trip our digs weren't just fine, so a pretty good percentage. Ended up having a very good sleep 😴 so some redemption 🙃.

    A quick look around old Orleans on our way to dinner. Bad ass cathedral will need a look tomorrow. Can't miss Joan of Arc tributes.
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  • Day30

    Blois to Beaugency. 39 km.

    October 4, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 6 °C

    Some of the most beautiful scenery this morning with a good stint right beside La Loire. Headwind today...what's with that?!? Good thing the sun's shining 🌞.

    We didn't push it today (have we ever 😄?). Easy riding (but for the wind)...nice and flat (we like that), combo sun and cloud (pretty good), no rain (yippee!). Ride along the dyke, thru little towns, farmland (always), by nuclear power plant (say what?!!?... didn't see that in the guide books...).

    Usual pique-nique lunch beside La Loire...not tired of this routine yet 😊.

    Got to Beaugency and it worked like the dream. Ride into town, see a small hotel sign on the way to centre ville, walk up the stone steps beside the flower pots and yes...they have "une chambre pour deux personnes ce soir". And great bike storage to boot. Sometimes it all comes together.

    One of the nicest little towns. True they all have similar attractions...narrow cobbled streets, old ruins, winding staircases, outdoor bar/cafes, clock tower, bridges, church or abbey, and in this region...a chateau. We like the scale of Beaugency...it's probably a lot busier in the summer but it doesn't seem too touristy. Church bells are playing a tune as I write this. And we happened on an organ practice in the abbey...very nice. Canals in the street...smaller than the Netherlands but charming. We think this is our favourite town.
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  • Day28

    Amboise to Blois. 44 km.

    October 2, 2017 in France ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

    If the worse we get from the rain is seeing more chateaus than planned... that works for us 👌. No rain today until just checking into our place in Blois...perfect timing (if you have to have rain at all 🙄). And the wind (15 - 20 km/hr) at our backs all day 🌬️...gotta love it!

    The hills out of town first thing gets the blood pumping. Might as well work off that croissant right off the bat. Then a nice ride up on the terrace. Fun checking out the burbs.

    Great variety and good paths all day today...huge corn fields, huge vineyards, farming towns, paths along the river, some thru the forest.

    Lunch beside the Loire...below Chaumont-Sur-Loire. Church bells ringing, chateau up behind (UNESCO site but we're chateau-ed out), sun comes out 😊.

    We checked that we had the plastic bottle for the rest of the wine. Yup...good. But a bit later....oops...no need of it. It was a perfect lunch spot 🙄. Nothing a short nap can't take care of 😁.

    Blois is another neat town...chateau right in the middle of things, pedestrian streets , squares.

    While things are going so well for us, at the same time, our hearts go out to those affected by the terrible attacks in Edmonton, Vegas, Marseilles.
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  • Day28

    Chateau Central!

    October 2, 2017 in France ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

    We had every intention of riding to one of the best chateaus in La Loire (according to Rick Steves), then Mother Nature got in the way. We got lucky to get 2 seats in a tour van going to three chateaus. Two more than we were planning to visit, but a better option than being out in miserable weather.

    The tour got us discount entry fees and head of the line. LOTS of people want to see chateaus 🎎🎎🎎.

    Each one different but all had incredible stone work, thickness of the walls, tapestries (needed to keep these places warm somehow), classic furniture, artwork and portraits, copper pot collections in the kitchens, huge firelogs, four poster beds...in every one.

    Chambord is the great grand-daddy of them all. Largest wall enclosed park in Europe (13450 ac) still with wild boar and deer. Awesome architecture laid out in shape of a Greek cross and a double-helix staircase in the middle. Six times the size of the average Loire chateau.

    Chenonceau...most visited chateau. Impeccable gardens, amazing treed entry, fancy furniture. Housed the mistress of Henry II until he died and his wife kicked her out. Oh the drama 😮. The wife and the mistress each have their own garden. It was used as a military hospital in WWI.

    Cheverny...a more manageable scale and the owners still live on the top floor. Been in the same family for 600 years. Where the Mona Lisa and other Louvre art was hidden from the Nazis during WWII. The owner still hunts on the huge property and keeps 90+ hounds to do this. Lego creations throughout. Not sure where they came from but quite cool.

    Topped the day off with a fancy dinner at a private chateau around the corner...Chateau de Pray. Every dish exquisite. Ended up being an epic meal (3-1/2 hrs...no hurrying you out of this place!). Healthy price tag ...but it evens out by the minute 😄.
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