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France


Two railway bridges. I think they might be different gauges. Spain has traditionally used a slightly... Almost the first thing I saw in France was this pile of baguettes. Cyclists on the border bridge. This is one of the stations where passengers change between trains on the different ralways. The front of the station. The Basque language is used in this part of France too. There's a car like mine! I think these are campaigning against the high-speed railway. The harbour of St. Jean de Luz. St. Jean de Luz. The flag to the right of the Irish one is the Basque flag. I don't know hat the one next to that is. St. Jean de Luz. McDonalds, St. Jean de Luz. That's a fancy crane. It seemed to be just holding a pipe. In St. Jean de Luz, there was a section of road which I wasn't allowed to use. As soon as I turned o... Biarritz Airport. Bayonne. Bike parking. I can keep an eye on my bike from here. In France, you can get wholemeal Big Macs. Vincent Vega never mentionned that. ... and this is a big Apparently, this village is having a night market tonight. I don't understand why four out of every six rows have been cut down. A pretty house and garden. A man and his chickens. The River Adour. If you didn't fancy the pillow menu, how about the dirt menu? Each of these piles has a little label... There weren't colours like this in Spain. This looks properly French. A view. I don't know what these flowers are. Another of these tree-lined avenues. But they never said bonjour. I assume these spaces just allow people to stop for a minute. This shop has typically French wares, such as caviare, foie gras and wine. There's going to be some kind of fete here tomorrow. some of the roundabouts have more impressive fl... I'm not sure whty the homeopathy is in the I had expected the spa town of Dax to be smarter than this. The fair being set up. It seems you can hire a cold store. I thought that was my hotel in the background but it turned out that I was in the other Grand Hotel ... Interesting building design. Dax sunset. My luggage before I put it in the bags. Customers of the spa. I don't know if they have actually come to sit there or if that's just the wai... A railway line. I rode past a lot of managed forest today. This machine must be doing some kind of logging. Laluque. The mayor's office. Piles of logs being doused with water. Presumably to stop fires. I'll pretend this was an artistic shot and that I didn't just drop the camera. Doesn't look like fruit to me. The end of one of the long crop irrigators. This church is in the middle of the road. A site of remarkable vegetables? A weather station. Nearby is a phone mast and a water tower. I assume that means I'm at a high point... Look at this colour. More pretty colours. Just a house and its land. I had a few attempts at taking this picture. First, I wasn't ready... ... then the bollard fell over. That's better. Those are the same two burgers which I photographed yesterday. Logs. The village of Pissos. According to its sign, that baker's shop won a prize for having the best baguette in the region in 2... Another tower. They obviously don't trust their own map. That say that if it differs from the signs, you should fol... I think this is a village hall. The two cyclists at the front look like fully loaded tourists. I think I may have just crossed some kind of appelation contrôlée boundary on the approach to Bordea... More grapes. Another mayor's office. This roundabout has a grape press on it. I'm not quite sure which way bikes should go here. The sculpture on the left is called Bridgend. It's part of an aqueduct with water pouring off the en... My hotel. The part on the left looks original. The desk in this room is a funny little thing. Bordeaux sunset. The bridge sculpture and the restaurant by night. This restaurant is designed to evoke the original american restaurants from the 1950s, except for th... The restaurant in Bordeaux. The restaurant in Bordeaux. This isn't the normal French uniform. It must be to fit in with the classic look of the restaurant. The restaurant in Bordeaux. The restaurant in Bordeaux at breakfast time. Hire bikes. A market in Bordeaux. Funny bus! Bordeaux. This seems to be a district of halal meat shops. Is that his office? The highest window in this picture is just painted on. The bell tower of St. Michael's Basilica, which isn't attached to the rest of the building. A market. Bordeaux. Bordeaux. Bordeaux. Bordeaux. Bordeaux. Bordeaux. This is a self-service hire car, working on the sam eprinciple as the hire bikes. You have to pay a ... Bordeaux. Sorry this one's a bit blurry. Bordeaux. Bordeaux. Bordeaux. Bordeaux. My route out of Bordeaux. It was very easy getting in and out. Bordeaux in the distance. You seem to get a lot of greenery around the tram lines. A large polyclinic. It seemed funny to ride past one of these without going in but they are now starting to appear more ... A vineyard building. My bridge over the Dordogne. A pretty church. The bridge. That's the railway bridge. Soon, this river will combine with the one which flowed through Bordeaux ... All vineyards seem to have round stone towers like this. I did stop at this one. This was quite a refreshing lunch in the heat. The village of Saint Savin. The same place. Just a building. I don't know what this used to be. These are the first clouds I've seen in a few days. More stone towers. Also, those sunflowers don't look very healthy. Jonzac. There must be an event on a Jonzac Cultural Centre. A lot of people have just gone in there. Jonzac. Vines and a stone tower. A pretty village. More roundabout art. A department boundary. There's a sheep village! Cognac, in the distance. This is the road to the town centre but the sign only mentions brandy distilleries. These don't look much like cognac to me. Cognac. Cognac. The restaurant in Cognac is slightly hidden. I think there's a market for tan-through helmet straps. Mine wasn't the only bike at this hotel last night. The yard of the White Horse Hotel. The view into the street from the White Horse Hotel. The centre of Cognac. I didn't spot any of the other distilleries. The view in the other direction from the same bridge. A village near Cognac. This sundial says it dates from 1984. It also seems to show local solare time, which is over two hou... This place was available for rent. The town square in Aulnay. One of many people who I have seen each morning in France taking baguettes home from the baker's. Th... Aulnay. Some people come here for their bread. Another village. An otter. This is where the otter was. These are the crops where I am now: things with little purple flowers, things which look like grass,... Lots of pheasants in a big cage. This was just one end of it. This car specialised in British cars. Hidden behind the Mini is an Inspector Morse car and a dog sle... Today's lunch stop happened to be next door to a sports superstore so I took advantage of that to bu... This road was straight but rather undulating for 13 km. After a while, I realised that it was going ... Here's a new crop. I was riding past apples for a few hours and saw a few lorries full of them. There aren't many of these in the landscape around here. I was only thinking that this morning. I'm not sure what types of tourist attraction get a maze symbol like this... ...obviously not abattoirs. More roundabout art. This one is outside a garden centre. Ornate balustrades. I thought the church tower in Bressuire looked strange, partly for having what looks like an extra s... The pair of legs on the left, the lamp post and the bushes are real. Everything else on that wall is... Dinner. Another roundabout. Tonight, I can see my bike from my room. A rather extravagant war memorial. Flower beds in Thouars. Flags in Thouars. The town of Montreuil-Bellay. While riding through Montreuil-Bellay, I couldn't understand why the town had so many hotels. Seeing... I'm not sure what the megaphones on top of the water tower are for. That doesn't look like a house of wine to me. A market in Saumur. The Loire. The mayor's office in Saumur. Confusingly, the flags aren't all blowing in the same direction. In fact, the wind was in my favour ... Some metal, probably aluminium, waiting to be shipped. That car has just come out of that totally thatched garage. Whatever is growing in there is very small. Bales of hay get used a lot for advertising. In many villages, rectangular and round bales have been... I slipstreamed this combine harvester for about 7 km. It set a good pace. An impressive gatehouse. This shop sells paint, tiles, wallpaper and so on. Canoeists in La Flèche. A boy fishing in La Flèche. La Flèche. This roundabout art reminded me of one in Turkey, which pretty much heralded the end of my 2009 ride... I can see my lunch stop! This road has grand milestones. The Greenwich Meridian isn't marked on this road. It turns out that this is the Liberty Road, the route taken by Allied forces from Utah Beach to the ... As usual, these horses came to see what I was doing when I stopped. Beyond this junction, the country lane which I have been following begins to look a little different... The dark tarmac is part of the Le Mans 24 hour circuit. The Le Mans circuit. I didn't realise until reading something in my hotel room later that the 24 hou... This is a corner on the circuit. The gravel on the right is a run-off area for cars which get it wro... This timber yard has its entrance on the circuit. Looking along the Mulsanne straight. Le Mans FC's stadium. Trams at the depot. Le Mans. This fruit caught my eye. It's a shame I can't eat any. Le Mans. Le Mans. Le Mans. These buildings look like they should pack inside each other. A tram in Le Mans. My bike gets to spend the night outside Galleries Lafayette tonight, sheltering from the rain. Getting to the rooms in this hotel is a bit of an adventure. You have to go up here... ... then past this toilet, then up some stairs which slope down to the left so you keep bumping into... My room is odd too. There's a big bed in one room and two small beds in this room up a couple of ste... Le Mans at night. The Sunday morning church service is about to start here. Le Mans. My bike. Often in rural French communities, there are maps like this. They don't normally have every place wi... A small railway station. Montfort-le-Gesnois. Fuchsias. The view along the railway towards Paris. I'm on quiet roads at the moment. Caravans. I've never seen statues like this highlighting where a zebra crossing is before. La Prousterie, an impressive country house. Inside McDonalds in Nogent-le-Rotrou. Inside McDonalds in Nogent-le-Rotrou. I saw four of these ridiculous things today. This poor elephant was discarded by the roadside. The inside of that quarry is a striking colour. I don't know. Chartres Cathedral, seen from 21 km away. Courville-sur-Eure. A view from the handlebars. I was experimenting with shooting videos from this viewpoint. The <i>Schtroumpfs</i>? Chartres. My hotel in Chartres is opposite the station, where there seems to be a de facto bike park. Chartres Cathedral, this time seen from about 300 metres away. Chartres station as sunset. Chartres. Look! It's true! In France, you can get beer in McDonalds!<br><br>Actually, it's been available ever... They've got beer too. Outside the restaurant. Pretty fountains in Chartres, where it's just raining slightly. Chartres. About twenty of the buildings in Chartres have pictures projected onto them at night. Some are stati... The side of the same building. On the front of this small church, theatrical curtains are just closing over a picture of the Cathed... Chartres Cathedral. I don't know who the figures are supposed to be. The side of the Cathedral. This place makes me quite glad of my exclusively fast food diet for this ... Chartres. Just a door. Chartres. It's remarkably quiet. Even the people who are here are hardly making any sound. Chartres. That's not a projection; it's a painting. I have no idea what these figures are meant to be. This is the church which previously had a picture of curtains on it. Behind it, you can now see the ... Even the buildings which aren't part of the light show are prettily lit. Here's one of those tourist trains. The train again. The stairs in my hotel. Nothing is parallel in this room. Even the toilet has to be at a funny angle to make it fit. Unusual sign. Chartres Cathedral by day. I wasn't quite sure if these people were going in as tourists of for a service but some were coming ... More tourists. Inside. The pavement maze. Inside Chartres Cathedral. Inside Chartres Cathedral. Inside Chartres Cathedral. Inside Chartres Cathedral. Sorry, there weren't really meant to be two of these. You can see the maze again in this picture. Guess which day of the week this bike shop doesn't open. I retraced yesterday's route for a few mile... My last view of Chartres. I think this is the first sign I have actually seen pointing out the best cycling route to somewhere... The remains of one arch of the 17th century Maintenon Aqueduct. The original plan was for three laye... Interesting stonework. I stopped just to admire the simplicity of the view in this direction... ... but then saw that the view in the opposite direction was this. That's a lot of signs. A motorbike and sidecar. I passed a shop which specialised in them yesterday. Another village. Boules! I passed some perople playing it back in Spain. These are the first ones in France. This is a restaurant. All of the buildings in this area were done in this bold, slightly brutal style. The obelisk, one of... A shopping centre. The Arts Centre. I was slightly disappointed to realise that the information on the matrix display b... Layers of buildings behind one anoher. Another shopping centre. One entrance into the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. Another entrance into the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. What looks like a grey wall beyond th... Opposite the Palace grounds. Versailles, featuring another of those huge staircases. Versailles. Versailles. I think the white building at the top is the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, where the... The Seine. The road here is the Périphérique, Paris' motorway ring road. On the left is the building where I fi... The St. Cloud Gate. Yes, I like Haribo too. I'm not getting any on this trip though. The balloon gets repeatedly let up and down by a cable. I couldn't see any of the people in it so it... The Eiffel Tower, of course. Paris. Paris. The Radio France building. Paris. Paris. Paris. Paris. This place is called the Trocadero. Paris. Paris. Paris. Paris. The Arc de Triomphe. I thought this roundabout was always meant to be terrifyingly busy. Yes, it's me. People photographing the Arc. A cycle rickshaw. The Champs Elysées. This again. Paris. Sorry, there weren't meant to be two of these either. Paris. Tonight, my bike gets to stay next to something called a Chrysler Crossfire. I don't know what that ... My room. This is a very smart and slightly unusual hotel, which I have got for about a quarter of th... The view from my window is of the hotel's outside seating area and the stairs which lead up to stree... The breakfast room. The black door on the left is one of the bedrooms. I don't think I've seen a hot... This is the view into the hotel from the street. The reception desk isn't quite as near to the front... Paris. The Champs Elysées by moonlight. A queue at the cinema. People posing in front of the Louis Vuitton shop. The Champs Elysées. Here it is in the dark. Pavement cafes. The Peugeot shop. It wasn't a s busy in here as I had expected. I gave my order and paid, then it turned out that they had sold out of some items so my orange juice... Other diners. This McCafé sells some cakes which I haven't seen before. I think I'll try those for breakfast. Some outdoor diners. Peering inside the Peugeot shop didn't explain why it was here. It seems there is a Film version of <i>The Trip</i>. Breakfast on the Champs Elysées. Breakfast on the Champs Elysées. View from the Place de la Concorde. Place de la Concorde. I don't know what either of those buildings are. View from the Place de la Concorde. Place de la Concorde. Tourists. Tourists. There's a surprising amount of empty space in Paris. The Tuilerie Gardens. I was trying to make it look like the jet of water was coming out of that man's mouth. The Tuilerie Gardens. It's amazing that only about an hour ago, I thought it was going to rain. The Tuilerie Gardens. The view up the Champs Elysées from the Tuilerie Gardens. The Tuilerie Gardens. If you need a model of the Eiffel tower, there are plenty here. This is a different arch. Funny-shaped bushes. Me in front of the Louvre. This one is for soyloquesoy. There were several boxes for people to pose on like that. I think the idea is that it looks like the... Bored tourists. Another view of this. I got waylayed by a German and a Brazilian who had a flat tyre on their hire bike. It turned out tha... The Opera. The Grand Hotel and the Opera. This is the Paris branch of Galleries Lafayette, which seems to have somehow got away with adding tw... Part of my route out of Paris, which wasn't as simple and peaceful as my route in last night. Platforms of the Gare de l'Est. Leisure activities on an old dock. This is the first Urinoir I have seen. I think standing downwind of it was a mistake. More leisure activities. There are people inside those big rollers. Part of the docks region. Those look like enormous chimney flues inside that old building. Perhaps it used to be a power stati... An RER train. This cycle lane is slightly unusual in that we ride on the left here. To take the picture, I was sta... Two Ariane rockets at the Air and Space Museum. Just a large distribution depot. This cyle lane was annoying. It started off like this... ... and then turned into this. My last view of Paris. The Eiffel Tower is on the right. A small jet at Le Bourget Airport. Freight containers at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Puericulture? We haven't had a mayor's office for a few days. The town of Senlis. Senlis. I've found a bike shop that's open! Here, I replaced my inner tube which suffered when the old tyre ... A motorway toll plaza. The parking spaces in this village are in a strange place. Two of these pointed along the main road which I was following. The other two pointed along a comple... Tonight, my bike gets to stay indoors. There is a complimentary sweet in the room tonight. It's a shame I won't be allowed to eat it. It's only a short walk to dinner tonight. It feels a little chilly to be out in a short-sleeved shir... There are several eateries around the hotel. Here's another one of these signposts. This one mentions some of the places which are twinned with C... I was worried for a while because I thought this was the only bridge across the River Oise and it wa... This man used to be the mayor of Compiègne. A ship canal, probably the first of many. The town of Noyon is brought to you by the letter M. The bike parking here appears to be full already. Birdie. Flags. Every shop in the centre of this town was closed. I didn't find out why. They looked too closed to b... Oh, there's a sign to the village with the unbeatably short name of Y. Farmers at work. There will be plenty of World War I graves coming up later but this is the grave of somebody who was... The landscape. Part of the defences of Péronne. Péronne is twinned with Blackburn. I can't really see the similarity. An Australian war memorial. Rabbit for sale? Looks more like a chicken to me. The centre of Bapaume. When I saw this, I thought it looked familiar but somehown not quite right. It turns out that the tr... Arras station, where I spent a few hours sheltering from the rain two years ago while waiting for so... Arras. This looks like it used to be a good-looking building once. I couldn't remember whether I took a picture of this two years ago. I did. More war graves. A Polish war memorial. There was a Czechoslovakian cemetery on the other side of the road. A British cemetery. Roundabout art. I think this must have been a mining town once. There's a pit head in the distance. I don't know wha... The view from my hotel, of a different pit head and a modern cinema complex which is probably where ... The signage in F1 Hotels is very cheerful. Lens. I saw these heaps in the distance yesterday. It doesn't look like you can make much progress down this road. The colours made me think of those sugar flowers for decorating cakes. This was the second town where the main street had gone so I had to make a diversion. It looks like somebody is trying to make a feature of the underlying building material. The Porte de Paris in Lille, a big bit of stone with a tiny archway in it. Lille. Lille. Lille. Lille. Lille. Lille. Rearranging tonight's hotel after realising that with today's headwind, I couldn't sensibly try to r... Breakfasters in Lille. Lille Cathedral. Apparently, construction started in 1854. The transepts are done in a style which makes them look mu... This is starting to look a bit Dutch now. I haven't even reached Belgium yet. Lille. The Port de Gand. This appears to be a drive-through supermarket! The people in cars were ordering all sorts of stuff ... This little plane took off straight over me. Another town where the main street was missing. That's a fancy church.