Stage 2 – Paris to Les Loges (somewhere in the middle of France)

After my rest day in Paris, which didn’t involve any resting as we walked the best part of 20km sightseeing – stage 2 began. Spent the morning frantically google mapping out a route which then had to get onto GPS and print out. The missus helped loads!

Silly photo of me

Important lessons learned about route planning here:

  1. If I had done all this before leaving I could have had a lazy morning eating croissants
  2. Google Maps notice ‘Walking directions are in beta. Use caution’ – is there for a very good reason
  3. Just using GPS traces and print outs of Google maps gives little room for on the go route changes
  4. A stark reminder that I am a total novice to cycle touring

That said, it’s an adventure! If I had carefully planned all this out before hand, I could have missed some excellent tracks and may have never made it out of the planning stage and onto my bike! At least I now know of some brilliant MTB single track outside of Paris in the Foret Domaniale de Verrieres – not so great with a loaded touring bike, but under normal circumstances would be just what I like!

I didn’t make it to camp site the missus found for me, instead to an autoroute intersection with motels. Felt pretty fed up. Talked them down from 85 to 55 euros but still, my daily budget didn’t come close to covering that. Wifi worked and my mum had checked the camping which, much to her amusement turned out to be a naturist camp. At least I slept well and took off early. Mainly off road on farm tracks and through some woods. Just got thinking how good this would have been for wild camping when came across a freshly stripped out obviously stolen car. Glad I wasn’t around when that happened.

Ended up on a busy trunk road I didn’t like. Went rambo (nothing to do with with getting naked) and took my chances on some quieter roads with out map or GPS track. Turned out fine and ended up back on route. Walking path for a while then the D97. Totally flat straight road for over 50km. Moody clouds ahead. Anxiety kicked in as not seen any shelter at all, just open fields. Eventually started to spit but luckily just as I entered a small town with a covered bus stop. It bucketed it down, a bit of thunder, then a full on hail storm. I sat there dry and so smug until a lorry past and I received a full on soaking.

Tried waiting it out and ate Mortadella sandwiches. A local with umbrella wished me a bon appetite. Eventually gave in and donned waterproofs. Not the best cycle route into Orleans with trucks and heavy rain, but at least stayed dry.

Orleans looks very nice and instantly made it onto my list of places to visit again. Tourist office very helpful. Camping misses found turned out really good although a bit out of town – more importantly no naked people! Finally met some cyclists. A very nice Australian couple who where doing a route along the Loire on fold up bikes and two English heading for the med. One of the English farted so much that I am surprised he didn’t suffocate in his tent.

Next day turned out superb – Aussi couple were so helpful, they told me more about their route and directed me to a nearby tourist office for a brochure. Another very helpful tourist office! Just about found the turning and a Dutch lady who had over shot it. She was on the Camino de Santiago and had been staying at the same camping. A Dutch couple caught us up on recumbent bikes, chatted for a while, then shot off. I am now curious as the the advantages of these bikes over long distance. We stopped to take photos, she went on ahead and I had a second breakfast.

View of Loire riverEnd of great day on La Loire

The Loire! What a ride! With sun shining, I followed the river downstream – excellently sign posted, nearly the whole day traffic free! Didn’t have a proper map or GPS track, but didn’t need one. Had a long lunch. The couple on recumbents passed again, then the lady just as I set off. They were sticking to their routes which must have been longer. She showed me her Pilgrims passport full of stamps and we cycled together for a short while. Her route then went off somewhere else and I carried on following the sign posts – enjoying the freedom of no maps! Just cycling!

Cycle path came to an end shortly before reaching Amboise and my next camping, but looks like they are still building it and the last bit on road was fine – passed some very inviting looking Caves built into the rocks.

Next day and back on dodgy Google maps walking path. Grey weather and trunk road. Luckily was a public holiday so no trucks, and soon ended up on very nice single lane country roads. A little more planning and could easily be a good route. All came to an abrupt end though as I turned onto a duel carriage way entering Chatellerault.

Remembered advice missus gave me from reading Good Vibrations about free wifi in MacDonald’s. I stood outside and it worked! Nearby camping turned out to be closed so ended up in another AutoRoute Motel – Lemon Hotel. Much cheaper though at 26 Euros. A bit grotty but friendly staff  and free wifi. Ended a 15 year boycott of MacDonalds and ordered the biggest meal they had. Partly in appreciation for the use of their free wifi and also nothing else open.

Vodafone ruined my day! If you use data on your phone you get a text to say its active, it will be £2, you get 25mb which should be plenty to last the day… plenty? Go eat my saddle! 11 minutes and at least £17!!! Thought my phone would be my emergency back up incase route went wrong. Maybe viewing satellite imagery caused it – I am not going to turn it on again to find out! Their app and online billing seem to not work from abroad either.

Up late that night trying to figure out route. So close to the end yet an impenetrable labyrinth of country lanes stood in my way. The Google route on my GPS followed way too much duel carriage way. I ended up penciling in parts on the bad quality print outs I had – what an amateur!

Set off early. Felt joy in discovering a cycle path with first 5 mins. Ended up a bit lost but the Vienne River came to my rescue. Eventually found the crossing that also marked a turn onto a small road that led onto another smaller road called the Voie Romaine. A strong headwind but at least this Voie was straight and rolled over a sea of fields. Tarmac ended and dust track began – a small rotten wooden post with a faded upside down scallop shell – no way! With my horrific planning!! I had accidentally stumbled across the Camino de Santiago!!!

Gave up on my dodgy scribbled on Google map print out in favour of following the white and red marks and scallops. Took me right into the heart of Poitier via some picturesque old town and to a park.

Lost sight of the marks but that didn’t matter anymore. I was on one! Had to stop in Iteuil to recover for a moment. A girl approached smiling and asked if I were doing le Chemin de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle, I replied ‘oui’ – she instantly figured out I couldn’t speak French and told me in English that she hopes one day to do it, and asked me to say a Prayer for her when I reach Santiago.

The head wind continued but more of those nice single lane country roads. A signpost to another Les Loges almost sent me off course – a bit like Wales but smaller hills. Joined my GPS track in Lusignan. Used some very bad language in several languages as thought it would take me along another trunk road but no, crossed a huge ditch then back on dusty track. Some more scallops! Lost them again and GPS took me down overgrown farm tracks in full spring wild flower.

GPS didn’t take me all the way but just about remembered the last bit from a visit last year. Les Loges – 800 meters – made it!

  • Day 4 – Paris to Linas – 35km
  • Day 5 – Linas to Orleans – 106km
  • Day 6 – Orleans to Amboise – 111km
  • Day 7 – Amboise to Chatellerault – 88km
  • Day 8 – Chatellerault to Les Loges – 110km
  • Stage total – Paris to Les Loges – 450km
  • Total distance – Brighton to Les Loges – 690km
  • Accuracy of my stats – not great! – cycle computer says 689.52km overall and GPS 680.4km

Some links:

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1 Response to Stage 2 – Paris to Les Loges (somewhere in the middle of France)

  1. Andrew says:

    Good to see that Good Vibrations: Crossing Europe on a Bike Called Reggie is also a source of technological advice! 🙂

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