This post is somewhat late, but better late than never. Being the last post from this trip, there are quite a few photos to share...
The final leg of cycling and penultimate leg of the trip, from Nimes to Montpellier was a relatively easy 32 miles.
Mostly on roads so it only took a couple of hours to cycle down and roll into Place de la Comédie which I guess is the main square in Montpelier.
Montpellier is a busy bustling city with a vibrant mix of students, locals and tourists from many different backgrounds adding their own cultures to the historic location.
There is a real diversity of architecture, large parts of it are quite beautiful;
The city has been expanding massively in recent years and is currently pushing out towards the port and beach;
So I spent 4 days in Montpellier, exploring the city and spending some time with family before wandering up to the train station to catch the TGV back to Calais and heading home.
Here are the details of the cycling distances and route;
|Journey||Distance in Miles|
|Calais to Campsite||10|
|Calais Campsite to South of Lens||74|
|Lens to Crecy Sur Serre||73|
|Crecy Sure Serre to Chalons en Champagne||73|
|Chalons en Champagne to Chaumont||93|
|Chaumont to Villegusien-le-Lac||47|
|Villegusien-le-Lac to Chalons Sur Saone||101|
|Chalons Sur Saone to Macon||40|
|Macon to Lyon||54|
|Lyon to Thain l’hermitage||64|
|Thain l’hermitage to Viviers||47|
|Viviers to Nimes||65|
|Nimes to Montpellier||32|
Soon it was time to head back home on the TGV, but not without the complexities of having to buy a bike bag and dismantle the bike;
I would seriously recommend that if you haven't done this before, then you allow a reasonable amount of time before the train to try and organise your gear. I used the luggage straps I had with me to lace together my pannier bags and sling them over my shoulder, leaving my hands free to carry the large and heavy bike bag. Somehow I managed to get onto the train with it and just about stow it away in one of the luggage compartments. Having done that, the TGV is an excellent service - more than comfortable with loads of leg room and good facilities onboard.
I stayed over in Lille - having chosen this route to avoid having to change from Gare De Lyon to Gare du Nord in Paris - something I wasn't looking forward to. In Lille, the two stations, Europe and Flanders are pretty close to each other. I deliberately chose a hotel close to the station and headed out for food and drink.
The following day, having reassembled the bike I wandered down to Gare de Lille-Flanders to catch a local train to Calais. It's only the TGV and Eurostar who insist on bikes being dismantled and bagged so on the local service I was able to simply walk my bike onto the train as you would in England. By the time I hit Calais, the weather had changed for the worst. It was hammering down with rain and had turned distinctly chilly. Particularly for someone who had become quite used to mid 30's temperatures in the south of France. One major downside of taking a bike on a ferry is that you have to take it on as you would a car and go and wait in your allocated lane. By the time I was through both sets of passport control I was soaking and cold. Eventually I got onto the ferry and sat shiverring, clutching a large latte to try and warm my hands. Not the most pleasant crossing at all, but eventually I found my way home and after a bath and a Chinese take away I was able to sleep in my own bed for a long, long time.
Overall it has been a brilliant experience, the cycling hasn't been too tough and the bike held up marvellously. Not a single puncture all the way down and apart from the back mudguard shaking out of it's housing a few times during my off road adventures there were no mechanical problems at all.
Now just to figure out where the next adventure is . . . .