Maastricht to Bagneau-s-Loing, France

Thursday 24/04/08 – Maastricht to Profondeville
7hrs 54min. Av. 13.9 110kms

Woke up at 06:00 and were on the road by 07:30. Our daughter Fem and Monique’s sister Liselotte came by to see us off.
The day started out great, nice weather, not too warm with some scattered clouds.
The first 25kms to Liege, Belgium were nice but the following 25kms were terrible. A lot of traffic, very bad roads and dirty neighborhoods. The only good thing about the day so far was that the sun came out in full strength and it started to get warmer.
We have ridden to Profondeville before so there really isn’t much new to write about.
The ride is flat and with the exception of the second 25kms it’s a very nice ride.
After the town of Huy, the ride became much more better with beautiful blossoming trees along nice cycling paths right next to the river Maas. It was at this time that we saw something very special.
This couple riding on a specially built tandem (with complete touring gear). The woman was riding up front, laying down, while the man was sitting up right behind her. The amazing thing about this picture was that the woman had no arms. Now I don’t know if they were a couple or related but man, if that isn’t love I don’t know what is. I couldn’t begin to imagine the care and responsibility that is needed.
When we saw them riding along it just made us believe there is hope for humanity.
We continued on riding along the river Maas (still with that couple in mind) past Namur were the river turned south heading for Profondeville.
The camping was still the same as it was a couple years ago when we were on our way to Barcelona.
No beer but OK I guess for €6.50 but the €2.00 for the 10 min. shower was a bit expensive.
It’s 21:00 and it’s started to rain, which means time to sleep, it’s been a long day.

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With the bikes pointed in the right direction…

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…and us besides them, it was time to go.

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Just past this farm after Eijsden is the border line into Belgium.

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In Luik (or Liege) we came across the first sign of the Camino to Santiago.

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Looking north while crossing the river Maas in Luik.

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And looking south.

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Finally some peaceful riding after Huy.

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And what a beautiful spring day this turned out to be.

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Nearing the junction where the Sambre (bridge right of picture) empties into the Maas in Namur, Belgium.

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Namen (Namur) with it’s hilltop castle. Click to view larger.

Friday 25/04/08 – Profondeville, Belgium to Fume, France
4hr. 50min. Av.13.7  66kms Total 177

Woke up at 06:45 and were on the road by 08:30. Last night it rained quite a bit and also got very windy which also brought the temperature down.
So this morning the sky was gray and there was a chill in the air. The ride began good along the river Maas, a bit later the cycling path turned real bad and we had to get on the main road.
Again we have been through here 2 years ago so nothing much new. The only difference this time was that we didn’t try to avoid a couple hills with taking a detour (by following the river to this power station) that really just added 5kms to the ride and in the end still had to do those hills.
The camping at Fume has actually gotten better than the last time we were here. Very cheap, clean and almost quiet. It was a good idea to have a shorter day today as we were a bit tired and also wanted to do some washing as we weren’t sure how long it would be before we found such clean facilities again.
After the washing we took a ride into town to get some supplies and find the tourist office and ask if there are quieter roads to Juniville, and the camping there. And to our surprise the girl at the office told us there is no camping there, (which she proved to us after I insisted), but she said there is one at Attingy a bit further south. So she called them up to make sure they were open and also showed us a nice way to get there along quite road and bike paths. We were glad we stopped there for some info.
After getting the supplies, and a few beers we headed back to camp and just laid back checking out all the para-gliders using the surrounding hills to float up and down using those huge parachutes. Nice entertainment.

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Great views near Profondville at the start to the day. Click to view larger.

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Later on the cycling path deteriorated some.

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Having our second breakfast near Dinant.

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Dinant with its castle atop the hill.

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Strange rock formations along this section of the Maas.

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Chateau de Freyr up ahead.

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Fights over for Battling Annie. WWII Sherman tank.

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Entering France, well in about a kilometer.

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Panorama from the D8051 right after Givet, France. And the noticeable road improvement in France. Click to view larger.

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Another panorama from the D8051 this one before Vireux-Molhain.

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Setting up camp in Fumay, France.

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And digging into some junk food.

26/04/08 Saturday – Fumay to Attigny
7hrs. 30min. Av. 14.1  105kms Total 282

Got up at 07:00 and were on the road by 08:30. It took some climbing to get out of Fume were we got back on the D988 following the river. By the time we got to Revin the sun came out and we turned on the D1 heading to Charleville, and after a few kms we noticed a brand new cycling path so we got off the road and enjoyed a great ride to Charleville.
At Charleville we got lost again and ended up going up this huge hill and only after asking for some help did we found our way out of the city by heading to Meziers.
A few kms later right by Villers-Semeuse we finally found the cycling/tourist path that the girl at the tourist office had told us about, the Route Rimbaud Verlaine. Now there are several such routes and if anyone is interested they would have to do some research on the net or check out a tourist office in the area.
At Villers-le-Tilleul, Monique said her front wheel wasn’t feeling right so we pulled over and when I checked it out I found that a couple of bearings had moved out of the front hub and where laying just inside the bearing dust cover.
At first, I thought this was really bad as I had no tools to loosen the hub but with a pair of pliers and a adjustable wrench with some elbow grease it came loose and I managed to put it back together the right way so we could continue.  I was very glad I didn’t tighten the lock nuts on the axle very hard.
The Route Rimbaud Verlaine goes through some rural roads and naturally there are several hills along the way and by the time we reached Attigny we were beat. I would also like to add taking all these rural roads there is no chance of finding a super market anywhere so dinner tonight is noodles.
I asked around if there was a place to get some beer but the manager of the camping said everything is closed so later on I saw this guy carrying a twelve pack of beer to his camper so I asked him where he got it, but he also said everything is closed.
A few moments later he came by and offered us two cold ones, we tried to pay for them but he refused which was very nice of him.
The camping is the cheapest we’ve ever had at €5.50 shower included. Later that night when we got up for a pee we were treated to one of the most beautiful night sky’s that we’ve ever seen, it seemed that all the stars were out this crystal clear night 🙂

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On the D988 right after Fumay.

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Still on the D988 looking back. No shoulder but smooth road and light traffic made for some nice cycling.

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Right after Ravin on one of the smoothest and most beautiful cycling paths we’ve ever ridden.

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Another section of this great cycling path. Click to view larger.

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Couldn’t take enough pictures of this cycling path.

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Climbing through the Foret DÉlan about 15kms south of Charleville-Mezieres.

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The Route Rimbaud Verlaine we’ve been following from Charleville.

Sunday 27/04/08 – Attigny to Epernay
6 hrs 45 min. Av. 14.2  95kms Total 377kms

Woke up at 07:00 and were on our way by 08:45, took a bit longer this morning thanks to our beer drinking neighbors that listened to hard rock till about midnight.  So there was a price for those beers after-all 🙂
This day could well be described as the day of open fields and head winds.
The sky was pretty clear and it was a very nice ride. We got on a major road heading pretty much SSW until we reached the river Marne which we than followed to Epernay. We tried to stay on the smallest roads we could find and also being Sunday it was very quiet indeed.
It did get quite hot when we finally reached champagne country but that’s always before the storm.
All the big names of champagne were there Moet and all the rest, it really is a nice countryside to tour, with many easy rolling hills and grape vines as far as the eye can see.
I’m beginning to worry about the itinerary I’ve made because time is limited and the kms are many.
Not that this should be a big deal for a tour but our minimum goal is to reach Santiago along the Camino.
The camping here is pretty busy therefore not cheap, even at this time of year, but it is champagne country. After getting some change (for the beer in the machine) at the reception, I asked about the weather and the girls there said it’s expected to rain for the rest of the week beginning tonight. That was not what I wanted to hear. And just before we went to sleep it started.
Oh well we’ve got to take the bad with the good.

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Early morning supply stop in the center of Attigny.

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On the D987 after Attingy.

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Looking back down at Vaux-Champagne from the D987.

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The views didn’t get any better when we changed to the D980.

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OK the sign says it all.

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We noticed this was a Route Touristique du Champagne.

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Big sky country. Click to view larger.

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Grape vines everywhere. Click to view larger.

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Modeling for Monique 😉

Monday 28/04/08 – Epernay to Sezanne
4 hrs. 20 min. 13.1 Av. 57kms. Total 434kms.

Got up at 07:00 and were on the road by 08:30, we could hear that it was drizzling outside so we took a bit longer to wake up and get going.
Getting out of Epernay on a rainy Monday morning was no fun, bad roads and many trucks made the going tough.
Just out of the city in one of the suburbs we stopped at a bakery to get some supplies and continued on where we found a smaller road that generally went our direction and we followed it for a while going over some pretty tough hills. In the mean time it just kept coming down good and it didn’t let up for a minute.
We stayed on the smaller roads for as long as we could but eventually decided to just get on the busier D951 (with no shoulder) and make a Bee line for Sezanne.
After about 40kms the weather had finally got to us and we just wanted to find a camping, take a warm shower and crawl into our sleeping bags.
As soon as we set up camp at Sezanne the weather cleared up (figures) but we are happy to be here non the less. As soon as the tent was up we rode to the nearest supermarket and got re-supplied as we were running low on everything.
We haven’t had a rest day yet and tomorrow the weather is supposed to be the same and on Wednesday more rain and even colder, so tomorrow we hope to get to a nice camping so we could sit out the bad weather on Wednesday.
Later that afternoon we met Denial another touring cyclist who was on the way from Belgium to somewhere in the middle of the Pyrenees to meet up with his girlfriend. We had a nice chat and shared a glass of Spanish wine, (in French wine country LOL), nice guy and we had a nice chat.
Tomorrow he will be heading south and we’re going Southwest.
Unfortunately due to the heavy rain we have not taken many pictures.

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This is one of the very few pictures taken today. Not much in the mod for photos this day, it just pissed down non-stop till we reached Sezanne.

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Looking ahead on the D951, the road to the lest leads to Mondement Montgivroux. We wanted to visit but on the day we just weren’t in any mood for detours.

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And looking back, just a miserable day 🙁

Tuesday 29/04/08 – Sezanne to Montereau
7 hrs. 13.1 Av. 91kms Total 525

We got up at 07:00 and were on the road by 08:30.
With a little headwind we headed SW on the D951, bad road with a lot of truck traffic. At Barbonne-Fayel we turned south on a much more quieter road and headed towards the Seine river which we followed to Montereau.
Around midday the southern wind picked up quite a bit and we were getting gusts up to force 7/8 and together with the hills the going got very tough.
The scenery was very nice even with the horrible gray weather. So we just put our heads down and cycled along for most of the day.
I do have to say that most of our tours we have endured really bad weather and we were hoping that this tour would be different but unfortunately the weather Gods were mean to us again.
At Montereau we had to pass through this ugly industrial area, it was only a couple kms but still not very nice after spending the whole day in open fields.
The camping here is OK I guess but there was no one here only us and this caravan with the manager. Apparently they had just opened up and nothing was clean, even though he charged us for shower there was no way we would go and wash up in there, every multi legged creature on Gods Earth lived in those showers.
So much for hopes of a nice camping with nearby supermarket to take a rest day at, we’re getting out of here first thing tomorrow.
I really don’t like being the only one at camp, I won’t sleep good tonight.

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Early morning Daniel passed by to say goodbye while we were getting ready to break camp.

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Open fields and gray skies. Click to view larger.

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I would have been nice to ride here in sunny weather. Click to view larger.

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On the D50 after Fontaine Denis Nuisy. By this time the cold headwind had really picked up.
But the views were still nice. Click to view larger.

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Days like these the shower caps over our helmets really came in handy. This is on the D250.

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On the D18 we passed these huge rapeseed fields downwind the aroma was just great.

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Certain spots on the D18 we just had to stop and take it all in.

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But when we did find the odd bus stop we took the opportunity to get out of the wind for a hot tea.

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One of the many typical farms we passed today.

Wednesday 30/04/08 – Montereau to Bagneau s-Loing
2 hrs. 45 min. 13 Av. 35kms Total 560kms

Well we made it through the night. It got a bit stormy around midnight and I had to get out and hook up extra guy lines to keep the tent from flapping in the wind too hard.
We got up at 08:00 and were on the road by 09:00, we decided to skip the coffee. We just wanted to get out of this campsite.
Again the weather this morning was really bad with high winds which made the going very difficult.
We passed through this nice old town of Moret s-Loing but the weather and the extremely heavy traffic in the center put us off and we just stopped at a bakery for some supplies and got out of there.
As the day wore on the ride got even more difficult with head winds gusting up to force 7/8, a few heavy shower’s in between and throw in a couple of hills you can imagine why we to stopped after 35kms.
The ride would have been very nice as we passed some really nice looking places but this crappy weather is really getting to us now.
We don’t mind some rain once in a while but these heavy showers and strong winds day after day is really bad.
The camping here is nice, surrounded by hedges, very clean and a market about 500m away. A good place to rest but we’ll just stay for the night, we’ll continue on again tomorrow.
We have decided to just take a couple shorter days instead of a full rest day.

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On the bridge over the Loing, waiting for the light to get into Moret-s-Loing. Click to view larger.

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Another picture of the Loing. Again not many pictures taken today as the weather just got our moods down.

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Our campsite at Bagneau-s-loing.

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Another panorama of our campsite with the heavy storm about to hit us. Click to view larger.

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And another picture of our campsite, I know boring but it was the only time it was dry enough to take some pictures.

Week 2 – Bagneau -s Loing to Montalivet les Bains