18 Sep
Day 6

Well it has been a champagne day today, let’s start with some stats to get us going:

Chaource to Arc en Barrois

52 miles

5 hours and 8 mins cycling time

Fastest speed - 39 mph - not even going to tell you who that was but I did do 33 mph!

5 barking dogs - very few! Not so many villages and towns to go through today just a great deal of huge space and big skies. 

3 lizards

So many buzzards - they were everywhere

1 kingfisher - I am almost breathless with excitement over that one!

It really has been a wonderful day today. The weather continues to be kind, but not only was it dry again, it was one of those days with not a cloud, but a brilliant blue expanse interspersed with cloud kisses from Maddy. 

The temperature was a very crisp 3 degrees when we set off, after the best breakfast yet, where I was able to finally get my fill of fresh fruit and have enough goodies to snaffle away our day’s fuel! See photo - one of our morning routines is to pack the days fuel and fluids - we try to drink at least 3 litres of water a day while cycling - one bottle has a hydro pill with added vitamins etc to help keep you hydrated - sport science stuff! Snacks are stolen from breakfast and we buy fruit like apples and bananas to keep us going. I am usually ravenous after about one hours cycling - HOO seems to go on forever on nothing. In fact the thought of food does fill quite a few of my pedalling hours. The last 10 miles of each day is definitely all about wondering what will be for supper!

Sorry I have ambled off! So with fab weather conditions and a great night’s sleep and yummy breakfast, we were in fine fettle. Off we set on beautiful tree lined roads, with few climbs and a fair wind. The day warmed up quickly and before we knew it the landscape had changed and we spotted our first vineyard. In fact, without knowing it we were in a champagne valley, surrounded by rolling hills of vines. Our first pit stop was in Les Riceys, a delightful ancient town, full of champagne caves and actually some people!

On cycling out we crossed a small river, a tributary of the Seine it turned out, and as we looked up stream, the unmistakable, iridescent blue streak of a kingfisher caught my eye, darting into the willows on the banks - such a sight. The highlight of my day.

The wonders continued as we cycled our next 15 miles, crossing the Seine at Mussy - wide and strong you could feel the strength of this magnificent river surging past.

It isn’t all wondrous sights each day, we have also climbed 3 major hills today, one 2 miles in length is beginning to warm us up for the Alps. however, today has been mostly pure pleasure. There have been buzzards flying alongside us, across us, high above us and sitting on posts as we have descended. On another descent, I heard the cries of, “Allez, allez..” - well I felt a Tour de France moment ripple through me! One village we cycled through was holding a kind of car boot fair, except it was through the whole village, with trestle tables outside selling or giving away their jumble. I glimpsed such treasures but HOO said no stopping and I said, “Boo hoo!”

Our hotel this evening Phil thinks is an old hunting lodge, and we are cosy and comfortable, full of rustic supper and ready to sleep. Funny how slumber comes easy after our days in the fresh air. Bodies holding up well as are the bikes and now only 2 more nights in France - wow we are actually getting somewhere!

Some facts:

Climbing hills is hard work particularly with full panniers

Even days cycling shorts are more comfy than odd days - random but we are both in agreement1

Washing clothes at the end of each day is very boring.

I miss the radio, my pillow, my dog and my family - in reverse longing order

I love my bike and HOO - also in reverse order!

Responses to comments and messages:

Huge thank you once again for all your comments and messages and sorry not to reply to each individually. They make us feel very supported and together with you all.

Just for the record, Carol, I think that the book or film idea is a very generous thought of yours and has made us giggle and as for who would play HOO, of course HOO is my real life Mr Darcy, so Colin Firth is the only choice XX

As for the cheese season, Susanna and Dave, who knows which cheese is when, but there was a poster up about it in one of our hotels and thanks to Gilly we know there are 365, so we can have a different one each day for a year - what a thought! By the size of the cheese ‘chariot’ that came round the other evening, I can very much believe that statistic.

Many thanks again, one and all for all your encouragement. We will be thinking of you all tomorrow as we pause our pedals in a small token of silence for our Queen. Sleep tight and more tomorrow, P and J XX

* The email will not be published on the website.