Lac de la Liez, France to Maastricht

Day 18 – Lac de la Liez, France – Rest day

After seeing that our winged friend had found his/hers out from between our inner and outer tents we crawled out of our tent around 08:00.
First order of business was to inspect the tent for damage which thankfully we found none. Only a little bit of water got between the ground sheet and the sleeping area of our tent. Checking around our immediate neighbors we saw that quite a few had flooded pitches. Later on some of them came around to see how we fared i the storm and were surprised we didn’t sustain any damage at all.
The spent the rest of the day just chilling and planning our way back home. Around 19:00 a new front rolled in and the rain returned.

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Can’t wee it but the mud in most places was ankle-deep.

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The camping here is about half way from Holland to the South of France, so a lot of its business is from people just staying a day or two. Around 16:00 the camping fills up and most of the vehicles have Dutch plates.

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The new front moving in from the North. Click to view larger.

Day 19 – Lac-de-la-Liez to Montigny-le-Roi – 50kms

Got up at 06:30 to a dry morning, so we packed up and were on our way by 08:30. But we didn’t get 100 meter from the camping when the sky opened up. Heavy drizzle at first than a few minutes later proper rain.. It didn’t last long, about an hour and a half. but the sky was solid gray and it looked like it would stay like this all day.
We continued heading East for the source of the river Maas on the D52, than down this long hill to the junction than right on the D35 to Ranconniers. Just by luck in the village of Ranconniers we saw this bakery van making deliveries so we pulled over and got some badly needed supplies like Quiche, sweet rolls and a couple of slices of Pizza. We continued East on the now D14 which turned back to D35. We stayed on it till the junction with the D417 were it just changed to the D144 untill Le Chatele-sur Meusse (Meusse means Maas in Franch).
To find the actual source we had to go back and follow the signs to this other road. Now the river Mass has officially two sources so after having launch at the bus stop in Le-Chatele-sur Meuse we continued on the D144 for about a kilometer were we saw the second source on our left, but unfortunately it was in the middle of a farmers field and was fenced off so we just took a picture from the distance.
We continued on the direction to Parnoy-en-Bassigny than just followed the shortest route to Montigy-le-Roi wher we knew was a campsite. When we got to the camping we found it deserted so we began to wonder if we should stay, A mobile home came also but they gave up and left. We stayed for a few minutes trying to think what we should do when the owner came by and opened the reception we we decided to stay. As soon as we set up our tent, around 16:00, the others began to show up and in a couple of hours the place was full. Never saw that before, it really is just a stop over for the Dutch heading to the South of France.
Camping is very good, near the village with many shops and is fairly priced. The only problem is it’s on top of this hill. We also started thinking how we’ll get home. Our budged is nearly op and we can only tour for a few more days, eventually we’ll need to take a train.

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Just outside the camping this morning while it was still drizzling.

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Monique enjoying the ride in the cool and fresh country air after the rain.

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Much of the scenery on the way to the source of the river Maas.

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The very curious cows along the way. They must not see many cycling tourists come this way.

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The plaque above the source of the Maas.

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And the proof we were there.

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Now all we need to do is follow this river all the way home 🙂

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And in this field is the second source. We’ve always thought every river has once source but…

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And the close up.

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Taking a break near the village Lecourt.

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Our beloved steeds.

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One good thing about ridding with headwinds is that we can get close to animals before they notice us.

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We found out later that these deer are rare around these parts and we were very luck to have seen them.

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As the day progressed the river Maas began to get bigger.

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At the camping in Montigny-le-Roi.

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Being on top of such a high hill Montigny-le-Roi had some military significance in the past.

Day 20 – Montigny-le-Roi to Domremy-la-Pucelle – 68kms

We got on the road at 08:30 and while getting ready to leave this bakery van passed by the camping so we stocked up on the usual supplies of sweet rolls, quiche, and pizzas. When we got started we more or less followed rural roads hugging the Maas. The first part of the ride was great along old villages and hamlets where we almost got attacked by this farmers dog. We were glad he was out and called it back because it looked very serious and we didn’t have our pepper spay cans out.
The second half of the ride was a bit more hectic as we rode on the busy D74 all the way to Naufchateau. Let’s just say we were glad it was Saturday and traffic was light(er). Just before the town of Naufchateau we had this very difficult hill to get over which wasn’t much fun next to speeding traffic. We found out later that we had ridden along this road before in 2006 on the way to Barcelona. Once in town we got some infromation about train but no good, only the TGV rode south of Verdun and a bit difficult getting the bikes on one of those. So the plan now is to cycle as far as possible today and make Verdun tomorrow, about 165kms from Naufchateau.
At the tourist office we found that there is a small municipal camping in Domremy-la-Pucelle, which by the way is the birthplace of Joan of Arc. Maybe that’s why it was so expensive for a shit-hole of a camping. Anyway we got some supplies at the nearest mini market and bakery. Later a couple of other Dutch cycling tourists came by, Meindert and another couple, family De Vries. Meindert was traveling home to the North of Holland somewhere and the De Vries’s were heading to the South of France.
The weather today was a bit overcast and even drizzled a bit but when the sun came out it was really nice. We also had a strong tailwind which was nice for a change.
Camping here is very basic, very expensive and not clean at all, but it’s the only one around so…

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Gray day but the ride early on was very nice.

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Another region of France from the not so nice D74.

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Crossing the ever growing Maas at Bazoilles-sur-Meuse.

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On the plateau just before Naufchateau and the weather begins to clear.

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Beautiful chateaus along the Maas river valley.

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And closeup.

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Statue of Joan of Arc in Domremy-la-Pucelle.

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Chatting with Meindert. Click to view larger.

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And chatting with family De Vries.

Day 21 – Domremy-la-Pucelle to Verdun – 95kms

From the three of us Meindert was the first to leave. Than we said our goodbye to the De Vries family and at 08:30 we got on the D964 heading North.
The D964 is not a dual carrieage way but a major road non the less and we were happy it was Sunday and there wasn’t any truck traffic. On a weekday it would have been horrible to ride on as there isn’t any shoulder.
According to our map we had several hills so we knew we had a long day ahead. There were scattered clouds and we had a strong tail wind and that made the ride pretty good.
As Saint-Mihiel we stopped at the tourist office for some information about trains from Verdun and also have lunch on the bench outside, and that’s when we saw Meindert. It was hilarious. We had a good laugh at the way he looked at us, because he had left earlier, cycled faster and we were at Saint-Mihiel before him. He was following a bicycle route from Paul Benjamense, from Barcelona to Holland, which took him over many hills and back roads, while we took the main road. So he did around 85kms to our 60kms. We agreed to meet up later at the camping in Verdun than he took off. He said he wanted to make sure he reached Verdun first, what a character.
Just before Verdun we had to take shelter several times from these short (and annoying) rain showers. At the camping we met up with Meindert and sat around drinking some beers and chatting. We told him of our plans to take the train tomorrow to Givet, France than cycle to Namur, Belgium the following day. From Namur we would take again the train to Liege, Belgium, because the ride is very boring through dilapidated industrial areas and also dangerous. From Liege we can ride the last 25kms to Maastricht along car free cycling paths along the Albert canal. Before this tour we had set out a budget and it was almost finished.
To get to Givet we needed no more than four connections. Well it didn’t take Meindert long to change his plans and accompany us to Givet were we’ll spend the night before continuing on to Manur.
I felt bad for not spending more time in Verdun as the place has a lot of history that I’m interested in but like Lángres, we’ll have to come back this way again someday.
Camping in Verdun is very good, clean and fairly priced, good value for money.

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On the D964, we were glad it was Sunday and had the road mostly to ourselves.

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Yet another region of France.

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Cresting one of the many hills today. But it was cool and we had a good tailwind.

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Taking a break from the rain.

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Before Verdun we had to take smaller roads.

Day 22 – Verdun to Givet – Only cycled a few kilometers.

We got up and left the camping at 08:30, went into town got breakfast, some supplies than to the train station for the tickets and wait for our ride.
All four connections went to plan without any hassles, the French are getting very efficient with cyclists.
The only problem we encountered to day was finding a place for something to eat in Givet on a Monday evening. And after riding around for a while we ended up going to a super market for some canned food and a couple bottles of wine.
Camping in Givet turned out to be the cheapest ever at €2.30pp with shower but Maindert complained about the lack of wifi LOL

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Verdun city center.

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On the warm, dry and very comfortable train.

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And with plenty of room for our steeds.

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Setting up camp in Givet.

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If all our camping’s were this cheap we would have ridden all the way home.

Day 23 – Givet to Maastricht – 91kms

We got on the road by 08:00 and with Maindert in tow headed for the Belgian border. We had ridden along this part of the river Maas before so we knew what to expect. But riding in Belgium always brings up surprises. Like detours for road works that lead you away from the cycling path and dump you on a dual carriage way with now way of getting back. And on top of that it started to come down pretty good.
At Dinant we stopped for a rest with some coffee, sweet rolls and wait out the worst of the rain. When we reached Namur we slowly made our way to the train station were we said goodbye to Maindert. He wanted to ride the rest of the way home which is a different direction to Maastricht. We on the other hand took the train as we wanted to skip the area between Namur and Liege. We had done this a couple of time before and swore we’ll never, ever do it again. Anyway the Belgian train, though not as good as the French, was cheap and we will be using it again if we ever want to cycle in this direction into France.
From Liege, Belgium to Maastricht is a well known route for us. We made our way to the Albert canal were which we followed to Vise, Belgium where we followed local cycling routes to Eijsden, The Netherlands and finally Maastricht.

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Heading for the Belgian border.

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Meindert navigating through some riverside traffic.

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On the Albert canal just North of Liege.

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Crossing the Albert canal at Vise.

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Border post between Belgium and The Netherlands, near Eijsden.

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Almost home.

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Maastricht, the river Maas has grown a bit since a couple of days ago. Click to view larger.

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Happy to be back home after such a wonderful tour.

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And one of yours truly.