Europe Bike Trip – Part 2 – Chaumont, France to Les Adrets de l’Estérel l’Eglise, France

After a hearty continental breakfast in a restaurant full of some kind of French senior citizens’ coach outing, we hit the road again at 08:20. The weather was much improved – cloudy but at least there was no rain, and we got back on route towards our destination, intended to be somewhere around Nice. Heading off, we passed through from the the Champagne area into the Rhone-Alps region and then into the South of France, marked by the transition in the types of trees growing and the style of buildings.

By mid afternoon, we were very much in the south and the weather was much improved. The French autoroutes system served us well and we were 32 miles outside Nice when the black clouds loomed again. I had checked the weather forecast in the morning and heavy thuderstorms were predicted for the Cote d’Azur, so we sought out the nearest campsite from our trusty Garmin Zumo 550 satnavs, and headed straight there – a campsite in the picturesque village of Les Adrets de l’Estérel l’Eglise. Unfortunately, we were just too late, and as we were just about to set up our tents, the heavens opened… big time. The camping area we had been shown was on a raised bank in the trees – quite a nice spot, but by the time the storm had passed, the ground was soaking wet, and the tents were soaked through and muddy. Fortunately, as the ground was so warm, it didn’t take too long for the ground to dry off fairly significantly, and, as I had literally held my tent above me off the ground to keep my bike clothing dry, I faired reasonably well, even if my tent didn’t.

Having set everything up, Chris headed down to the small campsite restaurant for a drink. I joined him a bit later, once the remaining bits of rain had passed, and we both had a pizza for our evening meal and a couple of beers.

Distance: 472 miles

Europe Bike Trip – Part 1 – Home to Chaumont, France

I set off at 05:21 on from home, meeting with Chris just off junction 3 of the M6, who told me that the police had already pulled him over (clearly out of boredom) on his way from Birmingham. When they asked where he was going and got the reply "Monaco", they were probably a little taken aback, but sent him on his way, and so we headed down to Dover, picking up a nice bit of heavy rain just as we got into Kent, which meant that our rain ‘resistent’ bike gear was already wet when we boarded the ferry at Dover.

A short hop over the channel and a cooked breakfast later and we were in Calais… and it was still raining… heavily. We continued heading southwards; our plan had been to get somewhere between Dijon and Lyon by the end of the today’s riding, and we took the autoroute (and toll) option to get as far south as quickly as possible, but we had constant driving rain all day and were completely wet through, so, at 17:39, we decided that we’d had enough and sought out a local hotel, Le Grand Val, in the nearby town of Chaumont and managed to get the last available twin room. Putting our bike gear next to the radiators to dry we went to the hotel’s Wild West themed restaurant for our dinner and a couple of drinks. After the day’s riding and weather, we were both pretty exhausted after dinner and so we turned in.

Distance: 521 miles