Ezy-sur-Eure – Orleans
Distance: 41km (bike) 2 hours by bus
Max Speed: 35km
Average Speed: 18 kmp
Today was a roller coaster of emotions to say the least. The morning began with a potter around the local market in the town square. The description of the place given by our patron last night didn’t over sell it at all. There were so many stalls, as in they were everywhere. Every street and side street had something on it. The covers came so close to each other it almost had the feel of an indoor market.
It didn’t take long before I spotted my treat for the day. There, propped in a sea of baked breads, was a deliciously buttery croissant. It just called to me! It was my first ever taste of a fresh, homemade croissant and it was amazing. I can only describe its magnificence in the words of the great Homer Simpson, “Ahgrerahaaaa”. As I bit through its crunchy layers, I could see Ruth in the corner of my eye looking at me. I imagine she was crying inside, trying to convince herself that her Medjool date was just as decadent, but really just cursing being a coeliac.
We only realised yesterday that it would be Bastille Day by the time we hit Paris. This made it impossible to get any accommodation that wouldn’t be a total rip off. As a result, we decided to change our route and bypass the Paris madness all together. According to the local signs, there should have been 40km of bike path left, which would nicely bring us slightly south of Paris. From there, we’d take our detour and continue east. Well we would have if the path hadn’t randomly stopped in the middle of nowhere after 10 kilometres. Confused as to where the cycle path had gone, we had to abandon it and take the main road into the nearest town of Dreux. Our maps weren’t detailed enough to navigate our way through the town and the road signs were as helpful as a knitted condom.
We’ve found that the closer we got to Paris the more assholey the people were getting. The people of Dreux didn’t break this pattern. Anyone we stopped to ask for help, in French I might add, brushed us off claiming they didn’t speak English, in prefect English. Either that or they would fob us off with any old directions. So after wasting the best part of the morning following one asshole after another’s wrong directions, we eventually stopped a cyclist who was convinced that the bike path we were on did continue. So back again we went, 10km up the road to where the bike path had ended. No bike path to be found. Imagine that. Needless to say, at this point we were pretty pissed off and fed up with the unhelpful attitude of everyone we met.
Finally, in our hour of need, a young French girl, holding a child against her chest with one arm whilst carrying a bag of shopping with the other, approached us and asked if we needed help. She confirmed our initial thought that the bike path was in fact unfinished. It turned out she was a bicycle tourer herself and was all questions about our trip. When told of our route around Paris, I could see her facial expression change.
“That is not a very nice way. The roads are not nice for bicycles and it will not be enjoyable.”
“Is there a nicer way around?”
“No.” Jaysus, fair enough.
She paused and then ushered us across the road to her house to top up our water bottles. She talked to her boyfriend about all of the options for us. When they returned they were both smiling. Ah, I liked the look of this. They were adamant that we should ditch our planned route and head south immediately to the Loire Valley. We could follow the Loire bike path east until we meet the Euro Velo 6 which would take us to Basel, our planned entry point into Switzerland. They had cycled the route before as a family and had only great things to say.
It’s hard to argue with the locals. If they tell you where they live is shit, it’s shit.
Our options to get to the Loire valley were to cycle for two days along flat, boring roads or take a bus to Orleans. After the day we just had, all we wanted was to get as far away from this area as possible and we were totally fine with taking the bus. I regret forgetting to ask the girl for her name, but whoever you are, thanks.
So it was back to Dreux again to catch a bus. We were guided to the bus station by a local cyclist. I have found that old men on racing bicycles in France are very helpful. Hats off to you sir, you are a diamond in a bucket of coal. The bucket of coal being you, Dreux.
We got the next bus to Orleans, with a change of buses in Chartres. We didn’t have enough time to see the famous cathedral that I had learned so much about in school but I did get to see it from afar on the way in on the bus. It was a pity I didn’t get to have a closer look but as I have no future plans to return there I will have to chalk it down as seen. We did have enough time to discuss the pronunciation of the town name; I always assumed it was pronounced Shartrezz, whereas Ruth went with the far more amusing, Shart, as in “I just shart in my pants”. It’s the little things in life.
Arriving in Orleans was a relief. Setting off on the bikes, we felt like we were beginning a new leg of the trip. The cycle through Orleans was amazing. Most of the streets were empty, allowing us to mess about a bit on the bikes. Oh and the cathedral, don’t get me started on the cathedral. It was such a beautiful city and it will definitely be somewhere we would love to return to.
Our campsite was 6km outside the city, set on the bank of a small river. It was the greatest thing I had ever seen. There was table tennis, trampoline, playground, restaurant and most important, a shop with wine. The camping area was in a wild meadow. Each pitch had its own private circle mown into the tall meadow grass for privacy. Once we had the tent up we treated ourselves to a bottle of wine from the shop to toast the beginning of our next leg of France … also to drink away the frustrations of the day.
I sensed earlier in the day that Ruth was seriously frustrated with the wrong directions and cycling back and forth earlier, so I asked how she was. It turns out the monotony of the cycling was beginning to get to her. She missed our lives back at home; the chats, the music, work, just stupid shit (her words, not mine), but stuff that makes her happy. She explained that even though we were cycling together, sometimes the silence was just too much. She was craving a bit more interaction with people. I can see her point as up until now it has just been the two of us cycling in single file on the empty roads. However, the minute we decided to take the girls advice and get the bus to Orleans, it was like a weight had been lifted from her. The second she stepped off the bus, everything changed and arriving in Orleans was like a new beginning for the trip.
It was so good to see Ruth so excited about the trip again and we were both looking forward to meeting more bicycle tourists as, up until now, we had only come across a handful. Roll on the Loire bike path tomorrow!
ar an rothar
endurance cyclist, adventurer and usually hungry