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Published: April 15th 2010
About to begin the trip
France - 23 Days Diary extracts in italics
The first 5 days of the trip were pretty tough, I had to battle against icy cold winds, tonnes of rain and even some snow. I slept my first night in a former Nazi defence post and visited some of the D-Day beaches and the grave yards full of Allied troops. On day 6 I had an amazing day of two halves and I wrote in my diary: “Day 6 - 23.1 miles - (€62)
‘la vida es un chiste’ is the perfect summing up for today.
I slept pretty good but awoke in a fluffing muddy field feeling a little under the weather - then I cycled nicely - legs and back ok, into Remalard for a tasty tuna baguette before cycling to arrive ahead of schedule in Nogent-le-Rotrou. Spirits were high enough although I was proper wet and all my stuff too - THEN WALLOP I started going a little hypo (without realising), I got a puncture and it really started to rain hard. I sweetly fixed the tyre - and proper fixed the buckle and continued, feeling a little miserable.
THEN WALLOP -
The former Nazi defence post
Where I slept the first night
my hypo worsened, as did the rain, the wind was against me, the road surface was really difficult, my back hurt and I was 28km from Brou (the next town) with hour and a half until I had to meet Jo on the phone - so I was trying to think of a time I had ever been more pissed off and failed - I was shouting at stuff and ready to beat up the next small person I met.
As I write this I have just realised that if somebody had given me a magic lamp and I rubbed it to unveil a genie I’d have probably asked for a stoner dude to pick me up, take me to the next town, buy me a drink after we’d just smoked a J I’d rolled then take me to an interesting place before dropping me at a hotel with a nice bit of hash he’d just sold me bon marche.
Well the dude was called ‘Lionel’ who I’d describe as a fucking crazy, bald non-English speaking geezer who loved hard house, played really loud - we had some funny conversations via my phrasebook. He handed me a big block of
hash hidden inside his steering wheel. The drinks were beer, two portugese chick friends of his came and one translated loads. The interesting place was a cemetery from WW2 with French, an Algerian, some jews and a mix of nations, which Lionel and the girls took me to. The hotel is sweet although 37 euros and I gave the knight in shining armour ten for the choclateee.
I spent 62 euros today so with the extra I’ve saved til now im 30 euros over my T.D.A (- ten dollar average) budget but well worth it for an amazing game of two halves day. Im now drying out all my stuff, scarily strategically - using the sink, bunk bed, radiator and designated sections of the room. Bon nuit”
Then I spent the second week cycling through endless farmland and some National Parks. I took a couple of days to cycle through the Loire valley via the chateaus du Chobord, du Blois, Amboise and I had tuna sarnies next to the charming Chatallion sur Indre before cycling into the Brenne National Park. I was a little ill for a few days so splashed out on a hotel and I enjoyed
very much the ‘Grotte de Lascaux’ cave. Day 11 - 37.6 miles (Hotel Ambazac) - (€35)
“I was feeling mentally exhausted this evening. Today I was ill, it rained 85%!o(MISSING)f the day and I had to conquer tonnes of hills. I thought about sleeping under a parked trailer, inside an electricity thing or a deserted house but in the end I was feeling so bad I paid 32 euros for a hotel. I slept, washed my balls, charged my phone and dried some shite before getting a long, warm nights sleep.”
Day 13 - 49.8 miles - (€15)
Went to Grotte de Lascaux to pay 8 euros to see some 17000 year old cave paintings - fucking quality if you ask me - there were horses (60%!)(MISSING), bulls, bison and loads of shit which the guide told us about but I didn’t understand - wicked and worth 8 euros.
The third week spent battling the cold, wet weather and crossing really hilly land. I got stuck up a mountain after Aurillac, having to sleep in a little wooded area in Carlat and waking up shivering in a puddle. This was the turning point
as after this mountain I would soon arrive to lower flatter land and the weather began to dry up. I quickly admired Nimes and Arles with a visit to the impressive aqueduct, Pont du Gord built by the Romans between 40 and 60 BC. I got out of the dilapidated Aix en Provence as quick as I could as I was a little lost, and I finished the week by arriving at the Meditterean coast in Toulon. Day 15 - 59.0 miles - (€8)
The cycling was hard again today, very hilly but the good side to hilly is fantastic scenery. These french baguettes are ripping my gums and inner mouth to pieces, ive a couple of ulcer type things.
Days 16 and 17 - 51.5 and 60.1 miles - (€8) and (€6)
Day 16 was tough - my legs kept telling me to ‘fluff off’ all day due to tiredness and I had some ‘Hi’s’ and some Lo’s diabetes-wise. At 6:30pm I decided to leave Aurillac and head towards Carlat, 19km away. Now on the map the road went over a mountain so I figured 10km up, 9km down into a nice ville or valley,
to camp near. BUT did that happen, did it FLUFF, after about 15km of continuous climbing and 4km of flat I arrived at a tiny village next to some ski lodges, covered in snow and it was getting dark. I camped amongst some trees, in someone’s huge garden; to hide me from the wind, things went well until it proper pissed it down.
So I didn’t get much sleep and woke up fluffing soaked in a puddle, it was freezing and I was in some rain clouds.
I very quickly, and therefore badly, packed up and descended to the next ville, shivering all the way, here I ate some food and changed into some better clothes to warm up.
Then the cycling for the rest of the day was cool - some ace scenery, some ups but some wicked and lengthy downs - which felt well deserved after the hilly last couple of days.
So now I´m 115km from Nimes and will hopefully arrive the day after tomorrow.
Day 18 - 60.0 miles - (€9)
“I love looking at the French as they see me eat - I wish I could have taken photos today when I was
My Knight in Shing Armour
In the bar where we shared some beer
eating sugar from the packet, they look disgusted - ha..”
I cycled through the Cevennes National Park to reach Nimes “Day 21 - 57 .3 miles - Sunday 9th April - (€3)
Well Sunday is supposed to be the day of rest and my fluffing legs played along accordingly. The miles I did today were hard fought after. I spent most of the day in a shite mood until I spoke to my dad at 6pm, which cheered me up loads then after the phone call I cycled along some ace cycle paths out of Toulon and along the coast, which also cheered me up, then I found a cool park on the waters edge and was able to wash - happiness restored. What a fluffing relief to wash, an absolute joy despite having to wash under a cold tap in a public park - I wonder if anyone saw my white arse.
My back wheel is buckled and its so hard to fix - like drawing the perfet circle freehand and today’s bullshit news is I left my sunglasses under the bridge where I had a WP (wilderness Poo) - BALLS, Oakleys too - although
Night 6 Hotel Room
Trying to dry everything
I did find them on a golf course so poetic justice, I guess.”
From Toulon I continued cycling along the hilly Mediterranean coast taking 3 days to reach Italy. I passed through Cannes and Nice quite quickly as they were a little too touristy and then ended up sleeping a night in a strange park in Monaco, full of sculptures. “Day 23 - 56.0 miles - (€4)
I cycled through Cannes and Nice, both tourist havens with restaurants, gift shops, hotels and casinos. I intended to camp before I reached Monaco but couldn’t find anywhere suitable so I’m now sat waiting for it to get darker and for the office lights to go out, they are lighting up this parky bit - quite DODGY, but exciting at least.”
The next day I continued around the coast and entered Italy.
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