Friday, 3 June 2011

FRANCE - DAY 1

CHRIS AND MIKE IN EARLY MORNING MODE
 For our recent French Touring trip it was an early morning start for the ferry.
Well it was 'early' if you happen to be retired..!
The ferry was booked to leave Poole docks at 0830 hours....we had to be there at about 0700hrs. Peter had stayed at my place overnight so that he didn't have the trouble of getting to the ferry from his home at Blandford.
Mike and Chris were going to cycle in from their home at Wimborne a distance of about 9.5 miles. When Peter and I arrived at the ferry port at about 0715 Mike and Chris told us that they had been there since about 0600hrs having left home at about 0500hrs.
Now that was EARLY !!.... Apparently they wanted to make sure that they didn't miss the ferry...!!! The photo above shows the effect the early start had on them both....they sat in the lounge area of the ferry for most of the trip with a glazed look in their eyes.
CHERBOURG - STRAIGHT TO TOURIST INFORMATION
 On arrival at Cherbourg at about midday we set off in the opposite direction that we needed to because there was a tourist information office at the other end of town and we wanted to get some leaflets on cycle routes and camping sites.
I waited outside the TI with Mike and the bikes while Peter and Chris went in to raid the free leaflet racks.
In the 10 mins that Mike and I stood outside two people approached us interested in our ride.They wanted to know where we were from? ...where we were going?.....what sort of bike we had?.....What GPS etc etc. Apparently there was a cruise ship in the port and both these people were passengers from the ship. Both were Americans and they stood and chatted to us for quite some time.
Finally Chris and Peter emerged with the required leaflets and we finally set off back in the direction we had just come. It was a nice bright and sunny day- warm but with a nice breeze.
MIKE IN PRO PHOTOGRAPHER MODE PEERING OVER A FENCE
 We soon found the route that we needed to be on and after a minor problem with routing at a roundabout we broke free of the environs of Cherbourg.
After about 10 - 12 miles Mike could be found peering over a fence.
Now Mike is a Professional Photographer.. but I never thought that he was into peering over fences to try and get a scoop shot of some French Celebrity !!  As it turned out Mike was just trying to get into a good position to take some shots of a Chateau.
CHATEAU - OBJECT OF MIKES DESIRE....(AFTER CHRIS OF COURSE)

ANOTHER BUILDING IN THE GROUNDS OF THE CHATEAU
 After our first of many photo opportunities we set off again heading for L'Etang Bertrand where we had it on good authority  there was a good campsite there.
Now I love French campsites, as even the municipal sites offer good facilities and at reasonable cost.
When you have a small one or two man tent and no car you don't want to be charged the same as a family with a car and a six berth bungalow tent!
In the UK I think that backpackers and cyclepackers often get a raw deal at a lot of campsites where they just don't seem to cater for the lightweight camper. In France it is different....they have a good pricing policy which includes the lightweight camper....Not once during the whole trip did we pay more than 6 euros for a pitch and some of the facilities were really 5 star.
OUR FIRST NIGHT'S PITCH
After about 26 miles (I told you we wouldn't be doing high mileages) we arrived at our first nights campsite.
It was a Farm campsite and it was in a fantastic rural setting.
Three grown men pushed Chris into the farmhouse in front of us all as she is the only one who can speak French. The Farmers wife showed us all the facilities which were pretty good and told us that it would be 4 euros each.... UK campsites please note...4 euros..!!
Mike and Chris were pretty tired after their early start but we were all glad to have arrived at our first site of the trip. There only seemed to be a couple of other people camping in the field and I must say that it was a really nice and tranquil spot.
It had been a longish day for everyone...but the trip had finally started..........

To be continued.......................................

NB: I will also be posting some 'arty farty' type pictures taken in France on my Photo Site 'Aura of Past Shadows'. 

4 comments:

Chandra said...

Trevor,
Kick-ass story. I love your picture of the castle. I like your observation: pay based on the size of your footprint. That's the way it ought to be whether it is campsite rental or auto-insurance. Well, but then there is the greed.

The photo of your group in Cherbourg reminds me of scenes from old western movies, where the weary travelers were shown walking to their horses.

Can't wait to read the rest of the story!

Peace :)

Steve A said...

Chris and Mike looked like they'd been captured and turned into zombies! Perhaps the Farmer's wife took a look at Chris and took pity.

Mark said...

I look at those loaded bikes and think, 'I'll stick to hosteling thanks'. Never been much of a fan of cycle camping, though I love touring.

Trevor Woodford said...

Chandra*
It just happens to be one of my pet complaints....your right about the greed..!!

Steve A*
Chris was looking a bit spaced out by the time we got to the farm...

Mark*
I think the panniers look heavier than they actually were.My net weight was 261bs...
I am pretty sure that there are lots of people carrying at least that in extra body weight.
If you like cycling and you enjoy camping and an outdoor life I can't think of a better adventure..!!