Tuesday 16 August 2011

London to Paris - on a bike - Day 4 - PARIS!

Jacqui takes up the story:

Day 4 dawned and this was to be the final leg of our journey.  I only had coffee for breakfast - maybe not a wise move considering we had 50 miles to cover.

We set out just after 8.00 a.m. along quiet, but windy, flat roads. 
8.05 am

The countryside is stunning as we travelled south, passing St. Quentin and Auteuil

The knee was mending,
although it looked as if I had spilt custard on it. 
After about an hour the dreaded brick wall had hit me and I felt I couldn't go on. I'd stopped to scoff an energy bar about half-an-hour earlier, but my injury plus a bloody strong wind made me feel awful, I had no energy or enthusiasm.  After stopping and thinking long and hard about what I was doing and why I was doing it I believed that yes, I can do it.  I gave myself a mental telling off and got on with it.  Collette encouraged and spurred me on: "you can do it!" she kept on telling me.  She also kept singing the Queen song 'I like to ride my bicycle!' again and again and again.  At first I wanted to kill her but eventually I was singing it too! 

9.55 am

10.05 am

10.10 am
The beautiful River Oise

crossing the river

We approached Vallangoujard Village 
where we had our water stop.

We left Picardie and stopped for lunch beside this::

Insect Hotel

- at last -

Lunch stop

After lunch, and feeling energised, we set off in small groups towards Paris.

1.25 pm

2.00 pm

2.25 pm  River Seine

 We arrived at the Bois de Bologne, the Holding Point, before our final stretch took us into Paris itself.

2.35 pm

We were all given blue "I Cycled London to Paris 2011" T-shirts and then, at to 2.55 pm were off, in convoy, to France's capital city.

2.53 pm

2.55 pm

2.57 pm

2.56 pm

3.04 pm
Getting ready for the final push 3.07 pm

Arc de Triomphe 3.11pm

Champs-Élysées 3.13 pm

3.17 pm

3.26 pm  La Tour Eiffel
Just amazing!
We were cheered along by people in the streets and under the Tower.

Celebratory Champagne on arrival.


Tuesday 2 August 2011

London to Paris - on a bike -Day 3 - best day yet!

Feeling well rested and raring to go. Our route takes us out of Abbeville and along the River Somme for a while.  Perhaps most people when they hear the word Somme think about the World War 1 battle which began on 1 July 1916 where thousands lost their lives (to read more about WW1 click on this link - but please don't forget to come back to hear about today's journey!)  Somme is also a Celtic word meaning tranquility, and this area, once scarred and desolate, is now beautiful and a joy to cycle on the quiet lanes. 

8.30 a.m. and off we go

8.34 - lovely quiet lanes

The beautiful River Somme flows quietly through the countryside

The splendid Somme

Tranquil bliss

Fields of poppies (another reminder of lives lost) and oil-seed rape flanked the roads as we swept along.

Then:   Mange-tout Rodney! 
Field after field - yummy!

Thankfully, the wind dropped and, after all the earlier struggles - I knew I could do it! 
9.15 a.m.

Half-past nine

Our morning water stop was at Selincourt Village.

Lunch time saw us in Sarcus Village after leaving Picardie.  The roads here are less 'hilly' than we have been used to - it was a "walk in the park" 

More oil-seed rape - mid-day

Our afternoon water stop was just after Grand Oudeuil  
Ten minutes to two

and we finished our 65 mile journey at Beauvais

Anyone you recognise?

 And then we saw our destination: the first time Paris had been on a sign-post. 
We knew we were nearly there.

Paris here we come!

Hotel de Ville, Beauvais

As we cycled in to the village the fabulous Hotel de Ville was before us. 

Several of the houses close to the Cathedral apparently date back to the twelfth and sixteenth centuries.  If you click on the Beauvais link above, there are photographs of them to see.

Our hotel, The Ibis, was lovely and it was wonderful to enjoy a well-earned shower and partake of a cool beer - or two.  At the hotel I was told they catered for 'gluten-free' folks - great - I chose steak and rice.  But, this is France: the steak was raw mince! (rice was OK though).  My lovely fellow cyclists donated some of their meat and sauce from their lasagnes - bless. 

And so to bed.  Looking forward to the final stage of the journey.  Don't miss it.

If you like the look of The Somme - you may like this:  Best Billet on the Somme