It was during a dinner with the girls in February that Clea announced she was leaving Paris in May and that it would be a good idea for us to provide her a personal escort over to London by bike from Paris.
So, on Friday morning, Kathryn, Georgia and Meg met Clea for a goodbye photo under the Eiffel Tower. Meg was to follow in the car until Dieppe, cycling with us on the last leg into London and Caroline was to meet us in Newhaven also on the 3rd day.
We quickly realised that trying to take the scenic route out of Paris would lead us in completely the wrong direction and after 40k of cycling, we could still see the Eiffel Tower and then road signs to Cergy at every subsequent turning! This was to be Paris to London – the long way round!
Day 1: 127km cycled. After getting on the right track north, it was a beautiful day’s cycling to St Germer de Fly. Trying to make up time, we decided to take the short cut over a very steep hill at Trier, to meet up with Meg at Menucourt for a much needed lunch out the back of the car. Never before had a ham and cheese baguette taste so good. We met several British cyclists coming the other way from Dieppe as we stopped for coffee at Marines. They confirmed they would reach Paris in a day as it was only 45km – hang on a minute, we’d been riding for 80km! Well, we comforted ourselves that we were triathletes and the extra kms and unnecessary hills were all part of our hardcore nature!
Arriving at our destination for the evening in St Germer de Fly made it all worthwhile, as our hosts at the beautiful Chambre d’Hote d’Abbaye welcomed us with cider and then an exceptional meal with all the guests and family together. The flowing wine and local cheese definitely helped us forget our sore muscles! This was to leave us some what bemused when we got our B&B on the UK side …
Day 2: 90km cycled. This was to be the easiest day, starting beautifully through rolling countryside and village lanes. We met Meg at the only cafe at Nesle St Serre for lunch and seeing as it was a straight and flat 50km cycle along the new Avenue Verte to Dieppe it was only fitting to have a bottle of rosé in the sun to rehydrate! We finally arrived into Dieppe at 4.30pm, with enough time to put our feet in the sea before boarding the ferry. Slightly scary moment when Kathryn got her back wheel stuck between the gap of the gantry while trying to ride into the ferry, but luckily no flat or burst tyre!
We arrived in the UK in the dark, but luckily our B&B was only 5 mins from the port. No warm welcome on arrival this side of the channel. Just a Vacancies sign in the window and confirmation that the local pub and chippy stopped serving food at 9pm! So it was a takeaway pizza and kebab eaten back in the hotel room with a bottle of French red smuggled over in the pannier that made it bearable!
Day 3: 130km cycled. After Caroline making a surprise entrance to meet us in Lewes, all 5 headed to London Town, having had breakfast with the Mayor of Lewes and sandwiches at lunch with Kathryn’s grandparents. Fueled up, we were able to tackle the numerous hills of the South, North and Surrey Downs to arrive triumphant into a sunny London. This was by far the hardest day’s cycling, but probably the most rewarding. The view of the Shard and the London skyline in the distance from the Surrey Downs was a welcome sight.
Highlights – c. 340 km cycled with no punctures !!! No crashes (albeit some comedy falls whilst stationary) and fantastic company.
Lowlights – getting the back tyre of a bike stuck down the ramp whilst boarding the ferry. Still seeing the Eiffel Tower after 2 hours of cycling and numerous signs to Cergy whichever route we took!! And the inevitable saddle sores that us ladies have to endure after 3 days !
Clea, many thanks for suggesting the trip. It was great fun as we wish you all the best in London.