We are finally about to start our trip. Will be leaving Epsom for Cranleigh tomorrow morning. Doing some last-minute packing after the roundaround with the French visa for Dianna. Anna had to go back and forth twice to TLSContact: First they didn’t like the photos (it does matter whether there is adult’s hand on an a passport photo of an 8-month old baby, probably makes her completely unrecognizable to consular officials), then they have called and asked her to come back because they forgot to give her another form to sign. Mind that it’s an hour each way. Frrrrrrrr. Someone was a bit upset.
Dianna doesn’t yet understand what’s coming, went to bed at 7 sharp with a smile on her face. We really do hope that she will enjoy this as much as we will.
As it turned out, the northern part of France gets quite busy in this time of the year. We had to work a few adjustments into the route to fit it into availability schedule of hotels/gites on the way. I booked the first 8 days lodging at this point. This however could cause a potential problem in case the weather stops us from completing one of the planned days. Anna is strictly against the camping option, even in an emergency. According to the new route we will need to stay an extra day in Normandy and shorten the distances for the 2nd and 3rd days. We will stay in a small hamlet 9km West of Vimoutier and then cycle to L’Aigle, Senonches and finally Chartres on the way to Orleans.
The trip will be what they call a “credit card” tour. We are going to stay in hotels, B&Bs and gites on the way. Therefore, we are limited to traveling between towns and villages large enough to have one for us. Basically, there are two route options to southern France out of the UK. One can take the Dover-Calais ferry and cycle through eastern France into Alsace and then to Burgundy and then enter Provance through Alpes-Maritimes. This seems a shorter route, however, it is quite hilly almost all the way. First the Ardennes, then Alsace, there is hardly a flat section in the whole route. We decided against this option. Our route will take us to Portsmouth and then to Caen in Normandy. From there we will cycle through Normandy to Orleans where we will join the Loire river cycle path to Digoin. From Digoin we will take it to Bourg en Bresse and Grenoble. Thereafter Gap and Barcelonette. We will cross the Col de La Coyolle in the Alpes Maritimes ad descend to Nice via Gorges Duluis.
We will take it slow at first. Planning 3 days from Epsom to Portsmouth with stops in Cranleigh and Midhurst on the way. In France we want to get into the rhythm and start doing 65-70km days.
So, for all those interested 😉 We plan to cycle from our home in Epsom to the south of France with our 8 month daughter Dianna. Crazy would you say? I think not. No one is surprised by our idea, but everyone is shocked to find out that we are actually going to cycle all the way. When we say that we are going to cycle to France, most imagine us taking our car and bicycles, or flying to France with bicycles, but no one can imagine a family of three to actually cycle from the UK to France.
Strange is it may seem, people are totally fine with driving to the south of France with their kids and having them spend 14-16 hours in a child seat of a car and are amazed and sometimes quite critical of those who are about to put their children into a bicycle trailer for 3-4 hours a day.
For those with similar ideas, we will be publishing a detailed record of our preparations, gear lists, travel diaries, etc. There are a few families that publish similar blogs, however, the information on cycling with babies this young is scarce. We are starting our trip on around the 25th of June, 2012 (weather permitting). In the next week we are going to write on what we are doing to prepare ourselves and Dianna for the long ride.