Day 8 – Forges-les-Eaux to Gisors
Today was a 40 miler – 6 miles longer than yesterday’s, and back on hillier terrain. We weren’t entirely sure what to expect – perhaps some more sections of converted railway, perhaps woodland tracks. We were hoping it would be more varied than yesterday’s though, as all that homogenous terrain was murder on the arse – it’s much better if things change a bit.
We had breakfast in the hotel in Forges-les-Eaux, which was really nice – there were some other cyclists in there who were going all the way to Paris in one go. We were glad we had a few days to do it in. As it turned out it was actually quite like cycling through a bigger version of Leicestershire. The same pleasant rolling hills and flat plains, rape fields, small villages and farms – but all big and odd because it was full of French stuff.
One thing I noticed a hell of a lot of was little balls in the trees – at first we thought they were rookeries, but I gradually realised they were mainly green, and that they were probably mistletoe. I have a question in with a clever chap who will confirm it, but for now I’ll go with my gut and say yeah, there’s lots of mistletoe. Some beautiful trees and avenues, anyway – dilapidated but strangely beautiful farms with complicated roofs and stuff.
There were a fair few ups and downs on this ride, but we still managed to motor along at a decent speed. I still crawled up most of them in what Rich refers to as a “granny gear”, but I did so without thinking I was going to faint at any moment. We stopped off in a cafe in Gourney-en-Bray, roughly halfway, which was a great break. The waitress even gave us a little chocolate marshmallow teddy bear, which only a madman would object to.
As you can see in the top right picture, we stopped in a lovely little village by a lake and had lunch – demi baguettes, emmental and tomatoes. Andy brought one of those little bottles of wine out as a surprise for him and Rich – it was all extremely civilised.
There were lots of pretty things along the way, but I didn’t actually take that many photos because we were too busy motoring along. We got into Gisors at about 20 past 2, and Shaun hadn’t been expecting us until 3 so we sat on a wall and waited for him outside the hotel. The part of town the hotel is in is a bit sketchy looking – it’s right opposite the station, and the town looks like a bit of a toilet from here.
Fortunately though a walk into the old town, about a quarter of a mile, brings you to a much nicer area. We had a poke around the really big impressive cathedral – as you can see Shaun was quite enamoured of a wall again. There was one really nice thing – in fact I’ll put a big picture of it below because it was cool.
After that there was a lot of milling around trying to find out where would be a good place to eat. Rich demonstrated a tremendous knack for stopping people on the street and talking to them in French, which led Shaun and I to hide like terrified little boys because we were too embarrassed. He did quite well though, the rascal. We ended up finding a bar that sadly didn’t serve food any more, but Andy, Rich and Shaun happily troughed down a couple of pints, and I had two oranginas because I can’t cope with proper butch big boy’s drinks. Andy and Shaun had a beer called Grimbergen Rouge, which was strawberry flavoured (Andy’s a big fan of fruity beers), and rich had a Kronenbourg.
The bar didn’t do food, so we had a brief foray further into town, argued about the prospect of going into an unknown curry house, and ended up buying bread, cheese and tomatoes from a supermarket and going home and having a picnic in the room. I got some awesome buffalo mozzarella and a super ripe tomato and had the best sandwich in the world.
Here’s the speedy video:
and the ride data: