Back on the bikes in France, freezing our tits off but having a ball

It was a bit of a shock to the system landing in chilly Paris after spending six weeks in Southeast Asia, we expected it to be a bit cooler but still relatively comfortable since it's the middle of spring, but it was (and still is) coooold! The temp sits between 10-15 degrees during the day but feels like about -30 with the wind chill, we're both starting to look like raccoons with our wind chafed cheeks and white circles around our eyes where the sunnies are.

We're jumping ahead a bit though, before getting back in the saddle we spent five days relaxing in "Paree" and checking out the sites, initially we were only planning to spend a couple of days there to shake off the jet lag, but then we found a cheap(ish) apartment right in the middle of the city that had the exact thing we were looking for, one of those cute little balconies with the black iron railing with an unmistakably Parisian view, when we saw it we got excited like a couple of little kids but saved the jumping up and down until the owner had left.

The excitement of being in Paris didn't wear off for the whole time we were there, at different random moments one of us would look at the other with a big cheesy grin and say "we're in Pareee!!!". We think it was partly because it was so completely different from where we'd just come from, but also because there's just something about being in Paris, the most famous city in the world, that feels kind of special.

On our last night we unpacked the bikes and put everything back together, we had a bit of a scare when we found that Tina's back wheel had been pretty decently buckled in transit, bloody baggage handler bastards!! We wanted to go and find who did it and punch them in the face lol, but once the panic had subsided we gave the old spoke wrench a try and (with a bit of help from youtube) hey presto, we'd trued our first wheel!! *pat on the back*
We were on the road by around 7am and were surprised to see how few people there were around, the place was pretty much empty, we've witnessed this a couple of times now and concluded that these Frenchies just like sleeping in, at least now Jason knows where he gets that from (sorry Mum). The awesome thing about this though was that we had the place to ourselves, we got to ride through the grounds around the Louvre while the sun was rising and the only other person there was the grounds keeper who'd kindly opened the gate to let us through, needless to say we felt pretty cool...

The coolness sooned turned to freezing coldness though when it started to rain icewater and the wind tried to freeze our bones, we were looking forward to roughing it on the road again but this was a bit harsh for the first day back in the saddle. Getting out of Paris was a bit of a mission too with all the stopping and starting at lights and trying to find somewhere undercover to check the GPS every few streets, it took us about 2 hours to get 15km out of the city by which time our fingers were so numb we had to look at them to check if they were still on the handlebars, so we took cover in maccas (which they call "McDo" here, frenchies...) to thaw. After about an hour we braved the weather again and made it to Dourdan 60km southwest of Paris and setup camp for the night.

The french countryside has been really beautiful, the part we're in at the moment is covered with green and bright yellow crops that are really picturesque, from a distance Tina thinks they look like peas and corn, there are heaps of cute little towns dotted all over the place and they've almost all got a medieval castle or cathedral dating back 800 years or something, we were expecting to see quite a few castles but not in every single little town, we're not complaining though. The houses in the towns all look pretty old too with those double wooden doors on all the windows, they remind us of this clip from the Disney Beauty and the Beast movie.

We're now five days and 300km into the cycling and happy to report that we're loving it, it's still a bit cold on the road but hasn't rained too much more and is slowly showing signs of warming up, plus we got beanies and extra blankets to help deal with the night time chill in the tent, actually the day we got these we didn't end up needing them because when we got into the next little country town, Bonneval, and asked a local for directions to the campground he instead offered to let us stay at his place! He seemed nice enough so we thought what the hell, why not? and took him up on the offer. Then when the neighbours found out there were a couple of Australian cyclists in town we got invited over their place for dinner lol, we couldn't believe how friendly everybody was and wanting nothing in return, people like this don't really exist do they?? So there we were having dinner with a family and their neigbour who we'd just met in a little country town in the middle of France, managing to communicate somehow with our broken French and having a great time, thanks for the invite Bruno :)

Travel tips

  • In Paris stay in an apartment instead of a hotel, you can get something much bigger and better for the same price, we found ours at http://www.paris-room-rental.com/
  • If you're travelling with bikes or other heavy luggage check EgyptAir prices, they had the second cheapest airfare for our flight and allow 46kg/person of luggage so we didn't need to pay for any excess baggage
  • In France cycle tourists should stick to the smaller D roads and avoid the N roads, they add a little bit of distance but are much nicer and quieter, they pass through little towns and don't have trucks flying passed you every few seconds
  • Take advantage of McDonald's free wifi in France, we've spent a couple of hours straight in there having only bought a coffee without any problems, you probably don't even need to buy a coffee but we'd feel awkward otherwise