Arrondissement de Mortagne-au-Perche

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    • Day 19

      Illiers Combray to Nogent le Rotrou

      September 8, 2017 in France ⋅ 🌧 16 °C

      I have discovered when travelling that it is the unexpected events that are often the most magical. This was true when we reached the little town of Thiron-Gardais and went in search of a place for lunch.

      David decided to ride ahead (as he often does) and we rode after him (about a kilometre behind). None of us had any idea of what was ahead, but we somehow found ourselves outside an obviously ancient church. The garden was overgrown and the walls looked like they were on the verge of collapse. It was just my sort of place.

      We left the bikes and walked around the outside wall, looking for a way to get inside. Once inside, we were fascinated by the antiquity of the place. Ancient wooden pews had obviously been sat on by untold thousands of worshippers over the centuries. Overhead we looked up to see the crumbling timbers that were doing their best to stop the entire roof from collapsing down on us. A rickety ladder led up to the ceiling space, although it looked like it must have been a very long time since anyone would have been game enough to make that journey. You could feel the history in every nook and cranny of the place. It was a delightful, serendipitous discovery that was the highlight of the day's ride.

      We arrived at the town of Nogent le Rotrou and found that the imposing castle was locked and bolted. There was no option but to continue to our hotel.

      Our evening meal was at the L'Alambic Restaurant. This turned out to be too far from our hotel to walk, so we organised a taxi to drive back and forth to ferry us all there. After our less than happy experience at the previous evening's restaurant, this one will be remembered for all the right reasons.

      The food was superb, the waitresses were even choreographed in their movements as they served each course and the young owners were delightful. Everything about the place was amazing. It was easily the best meal of our entire time in France.
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    • Day 20

      Nogent le Rotrou to Belleme

      September 9, 2017 in France ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

      Most of today's ride was through beautiful natural forests. The big problem was that the road was always going up and down. It was never horizontal. The undulations were never ending and the women were soon complaining that they all wanted ebikes. That left us with a decision to make.

      When we stopped for lunch at Preaux-du-Perche I looked carefully at the GPS track for the rest of the day's ride. It was then that I made a startling discovery. The route proceeded in a huge loop, before returning almost to the exact spot where we were eating our lunches.

      I suspected that there must have been some good reason why the organisers had wanted us to take such a huge detour. The women were not convinced. After a brief discussion (and a lot of foot stamping tantrums), the women all made the decision to take the 200 metre shortcut, while the men all rode the hilly 30 km diversionary loop.

      I led the reduced peloton up into the mountains. The women sat in the sunshine, waiting for our return. Although I was expecting to bring back news of some amazing sights, what we did find was forests, lots of forests. There were no huge castles, no cathedrals, not even a museum. But there were hills, lots of hills.

      The men pedalled on, wondering why they had been so duped. We puffed our way up hills, then huffed our way up more hills and finally chuffed our way down a short downhill. We finally stopped the bikes in the middle of a lovely treed place and started to talk. It became a great time to share our thoughts, without any interruptions from the women. Although the castles did not eventuate, the "male bonding time" in the forest almost made the hard ride worthwhile.

      Some hours later we made it back to Preaux-du-Perche and rejoined the (well rested) ladies. The reunited group continued the hilly ride to Belleme, where we spent the night in the Normandy Country Club. Unfortunately this was situated on the top of the highest hill in the entire region. The strenuous climb to the hotel consumed what small amount of stamina we had remaining. It had been a long day on the bikes (and much longer for some than others).
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    • Day 21

      Cycling the Voie Verte to Alencon

      September 10, 2017 in France ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

      One of the best features of exploring a country by bicycle is that you never know how each day is going to turn out until you have lived through it. Due to the serendipity of travel, you could actually do the same trip over and over again and every single time would prove to be quite different. This fact was illustrated in yesterday's ride.

      As we rode out of Belleme our legs were all weary because of the hard day of hill climbing we had experienced on the previous day. For some riders it was clear that another hill could be enough to break them into little pieces. We rode out of the Normandy Country Club in the middle of a thick fog and were immediately riding up a long hill. Oh dear. Fortunately the good night's sleep and a big evening dinner had replenished their energy and no one was complaining. At least not yet.

      We stopped for a little while to explore and photograph the beautiful town centre and then pedalled off on our way. Up another big hill ! We soon found ourselves riding through a beautiful beech forest and we were immediately captivated by the sheer beauty of the place. While we stopped at the side of the road a passing van driver pulled over to say hello (or actually Bonjour, since he spoke not one word of English).

      The next ten minutes or so were spent in a wonderful conversation where we told him that we were from Australia and that we were headed to Mont St Michel. All the while his van was parked in the middle of the road, however the traffic was non existent so it made no difference to anyone.

      We finally parted with many smiles and waves and were on our way again. The simple encounter had sent everyone's spirits souring and the hills did not seem to matter any more. Even the light drizzle seemed like a blessing rather than a curse as it made the most peaceful sound as millions of drops gently fell from the branches of the trees to the forest floor.

      The road rose and fell for the next few kilometres until we reached a beautiful village, filled with flowers. We dismounted and entered a wonderful little inn where there was a roaring open fire blazing on the hearth. Around the walls were dozens of antique coffee makers of every possible shape and size. The owner welcomed us warmly and kissed the hands of the ladies. His coffee cost less that $2 a cup and his smiles were free.

      By 1 pm we were ready for lunch and found a delightful picnic spot by a lake. We unpacked our baguettes and made a wonderful feast of ham, cheese and tomato sandwiches. While all this was going on, Gordon's back tyre was quietly going down. This was about the fourth puncture that Gordon had suffered and he was getting a little sick of it.

      We set to work at the repair and inserted the undersized spare tube into the tyre, pumped it up and started to replace it on the bike. Pfffft - it went down again. Oh dear, no more tubes of that size, but we did have some better ones of the correct size. The only problem was that they had the thicker Shraeder type valves and would not fit the rim. I had a brainwave. Why don't we drill out the hole and make it bigger ? All we need is a man with a drill. Maggie and I picked up the wheel and walked into the nearby town. There seemed to be no one around. The place was deserted. We knocked on a door, no answer.

      We wandered further and eventually found a man fiddling with an ancient motorbike. "Bonjour" we said and then showed him the wheel. He smiled. We seemed in luck. He returned with a battery drill and a rusty collection of about 3 drill bits - none of them the right size. Nevertheless he was keen to help and set about destroying the rim with French enthusiasm. About 10 minutes later he had managed to enlarge the small hole to a ragged giant orifice. We thanked him and his wife profusely before shaking hands, saying Au Revoir and returning to the rest of the group. Soon the bike was reassembled and we were on our way again. Another magic moment.

      Most of the afternoon's ride was on a converted train line - the so called Voie Verte (Green Way). The path took us through the dense forest of the Natural Park of Perche. For many kilometres we were able to ride without meeting any other riders. It was a great time to simply enjoy the experience. Because it was an old train line, there weren't even any hills to worry about.

      Unfortunately the early morning hills had taken their toll on Carol's ebike battery and she ground to a halt with about 10 km still to go. We had no alternative other than to continue without her and then hope to arrange transport for her and her bike.

      The shady Voie Verte bike path seemed to go on forever but eventually we reached Alencon and found our hotel. We explained to the owner what had happened to one of our riders and he offered to go back to collect her. All we had to do was determine where she was. When we managed to contact her on the phone, to our amazement she was only a few hundred metres from the hotel ! Somehow she had used all her powers of determination to ride the heavy bike, without a battery, into the teeth of a rising head wind and arrive only a few minutes behind the main group.

      We were relieved to find our hotel was spacious and comfortable and our evening meal at the Relais D'Alsace was large enough to feed a much larger peloton. On the way back from the restaurant in the dark we had to work very hard to avoid accidentally planting our feet on one of the numerous large dog turds that were scattered liberally over the footpath. I think most of us succeeded. We retired to bed late but wonderfully satisfied.

      We were also greatly buoyed by the fact that tomorrow is a rest day. It will give us a chance to explore Alencon and catch up with our pile of overdue laundry.
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    • Day 12

      Illiers-Combray - Nogent-le-Retrou 59 km

      September 16, 2017 in France ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

      Our detour behind us, we got back to business. Our hotel patron Olivier saw us off. He had renovated his hotel and got some paint from an 88 year old friend who had painted the Eiffel Tower 🗼 (well...not all by himself 🤣). So he still has it - maybe it'll help with the rust!

      A beautiful day. Some wind (and yes...coming right toward us) but not bad. Met a Dutch couple cycling the other direction because "we're from Amsterdam and we know the wind comes from the west". Gotta love that local knowledge.

      An unseasonably cool 8 degrees to start the morning, but sunny. Rolling countryside. Just enough hill to get the heart rate up but not enough to discourage. Big farms. French Charlais cattle. Expansive countryside views.

      Coffee stop at Fraze. Finally seeing other cyclists and flower-filled bicycles marking the Veloscenie. Pain du chocolat et pain du pommes...just reward for a two hour leisurely ride 😋.

      Lunch by the abbey at Thiron-Garais. Sausage from an award winning charcuterie, cheese, bread, olives, wine. Haven't tired of this menu yet! pleut 🌦️. Waited it out, got the rain clothes on, but off they came within a half hour and rode into Nogent-le-Rotrou in the sunshine.

      Quite the accommodation tonite. 15th century manor 🏰 ...that's old! Gated courtyard, large common room with a suit-of-armour boot and many other antiques. Our patron is a former antiques dealer and a well-known (in those circles) key expert. Winding stone staircase to our room, wood shuttered windows. Very cool. (But they do have running water 😉).
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    • Day 15

      Das unbekannte Frankreich

      August 14, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

      Wir sind wieder auf dem "Festland". Zwei Stunden hatte die Reise gedauert und ist trotz ruhiger See für mich und Sonja einigermassen flau verlaufen. Von Fähren haben wir in nächster Zeit etwas die Nase voll. Nichts desto trotz fiel der Abschied von Guernsey schwer, wir haben die Zeit auf dieser wunderbaren Insel sehr genossen.
      Und jetzt? Direkt nach Hause? So wie Sonja dies bei ihren Trips zu tun pflegt? Nein nicht dieses Mal. Wir entscheiden uns für eine Auszeit der Auszeit. Also sozusagen Ferien in den Ferien. Warum ich dies so beschreibe? Schaut mal auf der Karte, wo wir gelandet sind :-) Irgendwo in einem längst vergessenen (oder noch nicht entdeckten) Teil von Frankreich. Genauer, im Regionalen Naturpark Perche. Kennst du nicht? Da bist du nicht der Einzige. Wir entschliessen uns, dort, eingebettet in grosse Wälder und eines grossen Pferdetreibens Halt zu machen auf einem kleinen Bauernhof, der ein (1) Zimmer zu bieten hat. Wir sind aber schon ca. 4 Stunden unterwegs nach der Fähre und fallen müde ins Bett. Am Folgetag besuchen wir dann die nähere Umgebung und finden die Schönheit dieser touristisch fast vollkommen vernachlässigten Region Frankreichs, wo es fantastische kleine typische Dörfchen, unglaublich guten Apfelsaft und mind. genau so gutes Rindfleisch gibt. Wir erholen uns noch etwas, ehe es morgen weiter zum letzten Halt in Dijon geht.
      Mein Highlight im Naturpark: Das Dorf Bellême, welches uns von der österreichischen Inhaberin des Zimmers empfohlen wurde. Wir haben den Rundgang sichtlich genossen.
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    • Day 1

      Über den Wolken,

      April 17, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

      Noch über Frankreich.

      Leider gab es das erste Trinken erst nach einer Stunde und das Essen nach zwei Stunden. Zum Glück hatten wir vorgesorgt: Eine Flasche Wasser vom Flughafen und Vollkorn Brötchen von zu Hause retteten uns das Leben. 😳

      Aber dann: Es gibt jetzt Rotwein aus der Schweiz, damit kann man dann besser schlafen.
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    • Day 1


      April 17, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

      Wir fliegen noch ganz lange, jetzt gerade über Amerika.

      Mit der Sonne zu fliegen ist nicht so schlecht, dann ist draussen hell. Aber drinnen wurden die Fenster verdunkelt, damit man besser schlafen kann.

      Essen war gut, und mit richtigem Metall Besteck.
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    • Day 76

      Saint-Vaast-de-Hougue og route de Paris

      November 8, 2021 in France ⋅ 🌙 6 °C

      Vi fortsatte vores rejse på sporet af skibet “Vieux Copain”, som foreløbig ender i den lille fiskerlandsby Saint-Vaast-de-Hougue ca 10 km syd for Barfleur. Her ligger hun på land, uden mast og bom, og med mange planker pillet af siderne, en smule sølle og uden de store udsigter til at hun kommer på tur igen foreløbig. Manden der har købt hende, ejer et lille værft, hvor han restaurerer gamle både, og der lå et par flotte og mere sejlklare ved siden af, men om han på et tidspunkt får midler til at kunne sætte Vieux Copain i stand, er uklart.

      Byen Saint-Vaast var endnu en rigtig fin lille fiskerby her i Normandiet, og vi så et par både komme ind godt lastet med kammuslinger. Vi kørte så videre mod syd. Planen var at mødes med Michel i Saint-Malo i morgen, men da vi snakkede med ham, var han på hospitalet i Paris, da hans hofte var gået af led! Det gør den af og til, så han er snart vant til det, men vi har dog besluttet at besøge ham i Paris i stedet! Så vi er nu fortsat på tværs af Normandiet mod øst, på landevejen til Paris. Vi holder for natten i endnu en fin lille landsby, Chandai, med en lille parkering til autocampere ved siden af kirketårnet, hvor klokken slår hver halve time, men ellers er her helt stille.
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    • Day 14


      August 11, 2016 in France ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

      Supr stání v centru. Večeře a na skok na náměstí. S otevřenou pusou. Radniční věž snad lepší než Pisa. A 0 turistů! Pouze domorodci u kafe a vína. Chtělo by se zůstat na noc, ale chceme v noci projet Paříž. Jede se dál..Read more

    • Day 13

      Nogent-le-Retrou;Mortagne-au-Perche 44 k

      September 17, 2017 in France ⋅ ☁️ 9 °C

      Amazing bike path today for 3/4 of the ride. Converted railway line ... like ours at home but on steroids 😃. So hills were just getting into and out of the towns. We needed the hills in the morning to try and warm up. 7 degrees to start out...Brrrrr!
      But the good wind, no rain 😀. Now that's supposed to change today so stay tuned. (You sure do talk a lot about the weather when you're on a bike!).

      Very agricultural around here 🚜...with big field views, odours 😝, and four-legged friends to go with it. Very pleasant!

      The path made navigation super easy today. Until we ignored the 'deviation' sign so we could keep off the roads longer. Soon saw they were serious as the path turned skinny, wet and rutted. Then (and I called it!) a tree down across the path. Daryl's braun came to the rescue and I scooted the bikes along the side while he held the tree back. Voila! On the other side. But we'll follow the signs next time I figure.

      Great hotel in Mortagne-au-Perche. Super bike friendly with supplies for oiling and cleaning at the ready. And then a fabulous French dinner. Cool town. Tho tough to capture in photos...they all start looking the same 😄.

      On the bike maintenance file now my new bike has a problem. A piece of the front fork broke and my fender support brace came loose. Daryl taped it up and there's not really a permanent fix so we'll hope that does the trick. Ya figure ya should be good to go with new bikes!

      Off for petit-dejeuner. Can guarantee there'll be fresh baguette and croissants. Good thing we're using calories during the day...tho not sure the balance will fall on the right side 😮.
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Arrondissement de Mortagne-au-Perche

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