I have been looking forward to a bike ride across France for over a year now. Last year, my nephew spent a school year in Provence and my wife and I were planning a trip to see him. My part of the trip included a ride across France.
Unfortunately, our house remodel got underway and caused us to delay the trip to France until this year. So, again, I am hard at it trying to plan a trip to France.
I have chosen the start time, early May, and the landing site, Caen on the Normandy coast via ferry from Portsmouth, England. I have been busy looking at guide books (very little about bike touring) and road maps of France. I am using a 3 miles to the inch road atlas (Christmas present for an English relative) to check out the possible routes. I like to do route planning with these road atlases as they show all the roads, cities, forests, and many interesting sights. Unfortunately, there is no elevation on these maps (the ones for England show elevation) so I have to rely on other maps for that.
I have several ideas on what to do. First, I plan to see the D-Day Beaches and the ride over to Mont St. Michel to see it in person and watch the tide. Then, it is south, possibly along one or more rivers toward the Dordogne river that I likely will bike along for a while. After that, I am uncertain. I may go up and over to the Lot Valley, which I've read is nice but not very touristy.
To get to Avignon, where this tour will end, I will have to go over some high ground. I'm not sure which path I will take to do that but I suspect that weather (a bit less than 1 day in 3 of rain this time of the year in France) and the arrival date (I have to be in Avignon on May 31) will dictate much of what I do as I get toward the Massif Centrale.
I do not speak French but am reading books and listening to tapes to, at least, get enough familiarity to find my way if lost and to interact with the people I will meet on the trip. This is a real challenge but trying to speak in a foreign language is something I really enjoy.
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Copyright © 2007 by Ray Swartz