France did not treat us kindly for our first few weeks here, it tested us a lot, but we learnt from it. Important lessons like pushing Donkey is actually just as hard as cycling him and sometimes the Internet lies about campsites existing.
It was tough both physically and mentally, but our luck changed when we landed a last minute weekend house sit on the outskirts of Paris and ended up changing our entire plans for the rest of this cycling tour.
We got some important down time, a place to wash our stinking clothes and a base to explore Paris for the first time.
Paris is a city I’ve dreamed about visiting for a long time. I don’t know why I’ve never made it the short distance over there in my 35 years on this planet.
We played tourists for the morning visiting the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. To be honest we became bored quickly. I know these are the must see things, but I just found them a bit meh.
So we stepped away from picture postcard sights and spent our afternoon wandering the beautiful streets of Paris and sitting in a patisserie drinking tea and eating cake far away from the crowds.
Cycling through Paris!!
The day of our departure, from the house sit, we experienced an exhilarating and scary ride through the streets of Paris with our fully loaded tandem. Weaving between the impatient Parisian drivers, down cobbled streets onto main thoroughfares surrounded by cars, past landmarks we flew.
The adrenaline was pumping; instead of panicking when our chain came off we laughed our way through the quick repair. So much fun, we have now decided cycling is the best way to see a city and walking is yesterday’s news.
Paris you are beautiful and one day I will return.
Next up we had to speed over to the East of France, to meet up with Rob’s parents for a week relaxing in Colmar. With clean clothes and a fully functioning Donkey we hopped on the train to Besancon before cycling the rest of the distance to Colmar.
It was at this point that our world began to change as we were introduced to the wonderful Eurovelo 6. A mostly flat (FLAT!!!) bicycle route that weaves alongside rivers, betweens hills and through the countryside. We came across it by chance.
We spent the days camping by rivers, stopping for lunch in forests and enjoying the open countryside and flat(ish) route
New plans. New route…
Over the next few days our legs felt stronger than ever have. On day one we went past our first campsite in favour of cycling another 18 miles to the next one.
Even Donkey’s gears breaking couldn’t rain our parade. On our last ride before Colmar, we cycled 30 miles with only one gear. We didn’t care anymore, he still moved. Maybe we are toughening up a bit and becoming proper hardcore cyclists. Or maybe we just got lucky on a flat route…
Whatever the reason, it was bliss. We were firmly back in love with this trip.
In fact so much so, we changed our whole plans!
It started with Rob singing Bohemian Rhapsody extremely loudly. A sure sign he is in a good mood whilst cycling. Sadly there is no escaping it on a tandem bike.
“Bismillah! WE WILL NOT LET YOU GO!! LET ME GO!”
Pause in singing.
“Kel, it’s a bit nice this Eurovelo 6. Do you think we should carry on cycling it all the way to the end?”
It heads through Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary and Romania.
“YES!” I shout, practically screaming with excitement.
“WE WILL NOT LET YOU GO! LET ME GO!” He carries on singing.
And just like that we will no longer be heading to Italy as originally planned. Instead we will be cycling alongside the Danube towards the Black Sea. Places we had never considered before, but can’t wait to explore.
We make plans. Then tear them up. That’s part of what makes this an adventure.