Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bike Tour in France - Arras to Reims

At the end of April, I did a quick weekend trip to France (again, who says that?!?!). John Booker hatched a plan to ride one of the stages of the Tour de France, from Arras to Reims. So, we organized some cyclists and support drivers and away we went.

Arras is a lovely town, no more than 90 minutes away from the Chunnel. It was easy to get to on Friday night and we arrived and settled in just as the sun was setting.

Arras is very Old World feel with several large squares, cathedrals and cobblestones throughout the city centre.

In order to fuel up for our monster ride (it turned out to be 120 miles, geesh!), we ate in a subterranean Italain restaurant. Interestingly enough, several of the buildings have 'caves' if you will and have been turned into great restaurants.

Gope is enjoying some pre-ride grape juice while Jeeves conveys his Italian order in French.

The next day, before we set out, the city centre is turned into a massive market. There were tables and stalls everyone. it was quite amazing what was for sale. It was giant farmers market and thrift shop all rolled into one.

Unfortunately, I didn't see much of the market. Instead, I saw the inside of the Arras police station to try and find my car. Apparently, after a late night of fueling, I neglected to read the sign that says 'don't park anywhere or the giant market will get  your car towed.'

Good thing the police station wasn't busy. I was quite impressed. It only took about 5 police officers to take my American passport behind that tiny door to discover where my British car was impounded.. in France. Well done Interpol.

You'd never know that I was actually here to go cycling. I only pulled out my camera once during 120 miles and that was for a photo at the lunch stop. Great to see du vin rouge and some biere on the lunch time menu for me and my fellow riders.

Speaking of food, while in France, it was time to try out all the culinary delights. We had frog legs.

And a classic escargot. You'd never know there were snails in there with all the garlic though. My dad would love it!

Also, I thought this was funny. As France is generally known as one of the cheese meccas of the world, it was nice to see that some of their cheese is still orange and comes in squares just like some slices we know.

How do you keep six bicycles safe when you want to head off to find some lunch? Use the John Booker method of security. An extra long cable.....

.... between all the bikes and both cars. Voila!

All in all, a lovely weekend. Who knew it was so 'easy' to cycle a leg of the Tour de France? (And by the way, the leg really isn't 120 miles. We thought it would be a hoot to cycle to the start. Not the best idea we've ever had.....)