Archive for 'France'

TORINO, AMALFI, CINQUE TERRA & MONT BLANC

 
What an incredible week!  Our first stop was Torino, where Fabio, in expert style, hosted us at his parent’s house.  Antoni, Rach & Gabrielle also made the effort to join us from the UK.  It was a brilliant weekend.  As only Mama Cosenza can, we were treated to the best food in all of Italy.  We ate, drank wine, caught up on news, and somehow even managed to squeeze in a visit to a museum too!

We then headed south, to spend a few days on Italy’s, rich & famous, Amalfi Coast.  The scenery was amazing – sheer cliffs plunging into the sea, dotted with quaint little villages clinging to the mountain sides.  We camped right on the beach, rested and relaxed, and to top things off, spent a day cruising by boat to Amalfi and the very beautiful Positano.  Can this 10,000km holiday get any better?

Yes, it does!  Another night train and we arrive in La Spezia, our base for the Cinque Terra coastal village walk.  We splash out and stay in a proper hotel – if this is to be a holiday, then we need a proper bed!  The village walk was magical – right along the cliffs, from village to village, we enjoyed perfect weather and marveled at the human effort to build such a magical place.  10 out of 10.

Full of pizza, pasta and gelati, we left Italy and headed back to France.  But it didn’t end there.  Tom had arrived back, and together with Celine, we had the opportunity to enjoy their French Alps home that we had heard so much about in South America.  Tom even took us to his favourite place on earth – Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest peak.  Lucky for us though, we convinced him to take the cable car and leave the crampons and ice picks at home!

An incredible week, and for those that made it so, a very big Thankyou, Grazie and Merci…

Jules & Jess

A great weekend in Torino

A great weekend in Torino

Stunning Barolo countryside (near Torino)

Stunning Barolo countryside (near Torino)

 

Arrghh! A real mummy. Egyptian Museum Torino.

Arrghh! A real mummy. Egyptian Museum Torino.

 

The rich & famous, Amalfi

The rich & famous, Amalfi

 

Jess, living it up!

Jess, expertly blending in

 

The very beautiful, Positano

The very beautiful, Positano

 

Jules, not blending in with that hat!

Jules, not blending in at all with that hat!

 

The magical Cinque Terra coastal walk

The magical Cinque Terra coastal walk

 

You walk from village...

You walk from one village...

 

...to the next!

...to the next!

 

Tom showing us Mt Blanc

Tom showing us Mont Blanc

 

Just us and the mon-tains!

Just us and the mon-tains!

 

That's Chamonix down there!

Lucky we came by cable car! That is Chamonix down there!

 

The hard way up...

The hard way up...

 

...and the even harder way!

...and the even harder way!

Sun, Sea & Snow

MONTREJEAU to VIVIERS DU LAC

 
Leaving Montrejeau, we continued in the footsteps of our ancient Christian pilgrims.  Slowly, the peaks of the Pyreenes peaks gave way to flat (ish) farmland.  The sun came out, and the riding was blissfull.  We passed by the fairytale city of Carcassone, then crossed the stunning Alpilles down to the coast.

Riding along the Cote de Azur was much better than we expected.  It wasn’t that busy (yet) and the scenery was just spectacular.  The road literally clings to the seaside cliffs!  We passed by secluded coves, gawked at the mansions and super yachts, and pretended that we were rich & famous.

We were fortunate enough to stay with four French families on our way to Nice.  On each occasion, our hosts went out of their way to make us feel welcome.  It was an incredible experience and gave us the opportunity to see the “real” France.  We thank – Saubine & Vincent, Fabrice & Sandrine, Tristan & Laetitia and Regine – for their kind hospitality.  We hope that they got something out of the experience too!

From Nice we headed north into the Alps.  The transition from sea to mountains happens very quickly.  We were excited, the weather was perfect and the passes were open.  Like Tour de France pros, we crossed six of the Grand Cols – Cayolle, Vars, d’iZoard, Lautaret, Galibier and Telegraph.  It was hard work on heavy touring bikes – your legs ached, your breathing was heavy and the top was always just out of your reach.  But once you got there, you know you had earned it.  That’s what makes mountain riding so special… not to mention the great views and the downhill too!!

Incredibly, we have now clocked up 10,000kms on our bikes!   It has been a fantastic journey and a great achievement for us both.  To celebrate, we will spend a week in Italy (without the bikes)!  We then head north into Switzerland and Austria… I think after all that pizza and gelati we will need the exercise!

Thanks for all the comments and support – it’s been fantastic!

Jules & Jess

The sun finally came out

The sun finally came out

 

We left the Pyreenes behind

We left the Pyreenes behind

 

Road by the fairytale city of Carcassone

Passed by the fairytale city of Carcassone ...

 

... and the stunning Alpilles

... and the stunning Alpilles ...

 

... down to the coast

... down to the coast

 

The Cote de Azur

France's beautiful Cote de Azur

 

I found my dream boat

I found my dream boat

 

Jess found her dream house

Jess found her dream house

 

It was much better than we expected

It was much better than we expected

 

In fact, it was nice to be in Nice

It was nice to be in Nice

 

Many thanks to Saubine & Vincent ...

Many thanks to Saubine & Vincent ...

 

... Tristian & Letiata

... Tristan & Laetitia ...

 

... and Regine for their kind hospitality

... and Regine for their kind hospitality

 

Headed north into the Alps

Headed north into the Alps

 

Tour de France country!

Tour de France country!

 

Your legs ached

Your legs ached

 

Your breathing was heavy

Your breathing was heavy

Top always just seems out of reach

Top always just seems out of reach

 

But once you get there ...

But once you get there ...

 

... Its worth it !

... Its worth it !

That's what makes mountain riding so special

That is what makes mountain riding so special

 

Not to mention the views

Not to mention the views

 

And the downhill !!

And the downhill !!

LONDON  to  MONTREJEAU

 With our long awaited visas in hand, we bid farewell to our friends and set off again on our bikes – this time in the right direction – towards Australia!  The weather leaving the UK, was not surprisingly, bloody awful!  But despite the cold, rain and blustery winds, we still felt a little sad to be leaving.  The UK has been good to us, and we’ll both miss her (just a wee little bit).

We sailed by ferry to Santander, where Franky, our “warmshowers” host was waiting for us.  We were a little apprehensive to be honest, as we had met Franky through an online cycling community website, but the experience turned out to be brilliant and a great introduction to Spain.  We very much thank Franky and his family for their warm hospitality.

There is no question, cycling in Northern Spain is hard work.  You are either going straight up or straight down, there is no in between.  After nearly a month off the bikes, this came as quite a shock to our poor legs!  But it didn’t take long, and we were soon back in the swing of things and enjoying some amazing coastal scenery.  I never knew Spain was so green?

The transition into France was so effortless, you almost didn’t notice.  We simply boarded a commuter ferry and crossed the river from Hondarribia to Hendaye.  Strangely enough, you need a passport for just about everything in Europe, except for crossing international borders??

France promises everything a cyclist could possibly want – quiet roads, great scenery and lots and lots of yummy food!  Unfortunately, as we have found out, it also rains quite a bit.  With the famous Pyrenees peaks covered in cloud, we took a slightly more northerly route than first planned.  This hasn’t meant we have avoided the climbing though – like Spain there is nothing flat about South West France!

France is biking country and we are definitely not alone.  In fact, you see more lycra clad cyclists than you do breadsticks in this part of the world.  We’ve met a few tourers too, but most on shorter vacation style trips.  They almost fall off their saddles when we tell them we are headed for Australia!

So despite a little rain, it’s been a great start to our journey.  Western Europe isn’t going to be the “adventure” South America was, but it still offers challenge, and is importantly, enjoyable, which sounds just perfect to us!

We now ride down to, and along, the French Riviera, then head north, through the Alps to Switzerland.

We hope you enjoy the ride as much as we do…

Jules & Jess

 

Carl sending us on our way

Carl sending us on our way

 

Leaving London

Leaving London

 

Julia saying goodbye near Brighton

Julia saying goodbye near Brighton

 

Ferry to Spain, we'll miss the UK

Ferry to Spain, we will miss the UK

 

In Spain and back on the road

In Spain and back on the road

 

Hard work on the legs

Hard work on the legs though!

 

Stunning fishing villages...

But stunning fishing villages...

 

...and coastal scenery

...and coastal scenery

 

Jess breaking away from the peleton

Jess breaking away from the peleton

 

France is just over there!

France is just over there!

 

Its raining its pouring...

Its raining its pouring...

 

Misty Col d'Osquich, we decide to head north

A misty Col d Osquich, we decide to head north

 

France...great scenery

France...great scenery...

 

...quiet roads...

...quiet roads...

 

...and lots of yummy food!

...and lots of yummy food!