This week we departed on our own Tour de France. We cycled from Saint Georges-sur-Erve to Paris, a total of 273km over 4 days. We stayed in chambre d’hôtes (B&B’s) along the way for 3 nights. We arrived in Paris, the day before Bastille Day and will depart Paris the day after the real Tour de France hits town.
Day 1 – Saint Georges-sur-Erve to Belleme (86km)
Day 1 of our tour took us from Saint Georges to Belleme and was by far the toughest leg of our tour. Leaving Saint Georges we were faced with several climbs up and over 250m hills before hitting a flat section for about 30 km.
Our last 15km into Belleme involved more hills at around 250m. it seemed that we were just going up then down and back up again. By the time we got to Belleme, we were exhausted. Fortunately, our chamber d’hôte (Hotel d’Suhard) was not only warm and inviting, but it was also extremely beautiful, old, very French, and our hosts had paid attention to every little detail. Perfect. Paige didn’t want to leave.
We did not have lunch on Day 1. We had planned to get something along the way, but typically, like our past experiences, France shuts down between 1-3pm, making it difficult to get some lunch, so coffee and snickers bars would have to suffice. At least we had room for the pizzas we demolished in the evening.
Day 2 – Belleme to Courville-sur-Eure (65km)
Day 2 saw us leaving Belleme for Courville-sur Eure. This route had a few large hills to climb initially, with a larger 234m climb in the middle. The last 30km was all down hill.
We arrived at Domain du Tronchay, a working apple orchard. We had booked dinner with our hosts Edith and Francois as we were a bit out of town. That proved to be a real bonus, as dinner was a full-on French gourmet experience with our hosts. It gave us a great opportunity to converse in French as Edith and Francois did not speak much English. However that did not pose a problem and we were able to understand each other very well. The food was sensational and with many bottles of wine, calvados, hazelnut liquer in our bellies, we headed off for a good nights sleep.
Day 3 – Courville-sur-Eure to Rambouillet (65km)
Day 3 was an easy ride, basically flat the whole length. We got to our hotel around 4pm. This time there was no luxury as we opted for a basic motel. Nonetheless, it was comfortable for two very tired cyclists. Our motel was about 3km out of Rambouillet, so we caught a bus into the town centre for dinner. We had a few drinks in a bar before stumbling across a very nice restaurant that served lamb shanks. We had been hanging out for lamb shanks for awhile. These were no disappointment and nor was the rest of the meal. Le Cheval Rouge in Rambouillet is definitely a recommendation. We caught the bus back to the motel and crashed.
Day 4 – Rambouillet to Paris (64km)
With sore legs and backsides we started on our last day. This leg sounded easy, reasonably flat for the first 25km then cycleways all the way into Paris. Ha! The flat part proved easy enough, but the cycleways were another thing. Up and down, stopping and starting, dodging dogs, children and pedestrians. It proved to be quite difficult and by the time we had hit central Paris we were ready to call it quits. We eventually managed to make our way to our apartment, but had an hour wait until we are met by the apartment rep. We decided to head off for a few well earned drinks at a bar around the corner.
We had booked an apartment very close to the Eiffel Tower. Very close indeed. We have 10 days in Paris, but the first day will be spent recuperating we think. We have the fireworks for La Fete National (Bastile Day), so I think we will be sitting on our balcony for the evening with a bottle or two of champagne.
All up, we did 274km and spent 14 hours on the saddle. Not sure if we want to repeat that effort over 4 days again! Well we may, but we will be better prepared for it. The crap European weather has not allowed us much opportunity for riding.