Kevin, Tom and Yvette's
Amazing Cycle Trip in France
From Paris to Chenonceau
September 7 to September 18, 2008


Photographs on this website were taken by Kevin Rodger, except where noted.


Large scale map shows our route

Day 1 - Monday, September 8, 2008 - Charles de Gaulle Airport to Paris
- 49 km -

Greetings from Paris, France!

The big day finally arrived. Tom and I drove from London to the "big town" of Delhi to pick up Yvette for the drive to Toronto. Her partner John had her bike set up for the rack on the back of the car, and her Mom and Dad came to bid her adieu. After loading up her bike and a small amount of luggage in the form of panniers, we were on our way. Or so we thought. Yvette has a gazillion pet cats and an elderly dog she considers "part of the family". Saying goodbye took a long time.

Yvette, Kevin, and Tom in Delhi, with the bikes loaded up Photo by John Walker

Due to very full flights, we were obligated to fly from Toronto to Frankfurt on Air Canada, then to Paris as guests of Lufthansa. We had a few initial issues in Toronto getting Tom and Yvette's bikes checked in. The agent informed me that we had to register our bikes in advance on Air Canada's web site. Only problem is - the employee web site does not offer this option. She said that if we were unable to register, she would be forced to charge the usual $50 charge per bike, as well as a fee of $125 per bike as oversize luggage. After a phone call to Air Canada's help desk, we advised the agent that she did not have to charge the $125, nor did employees have to register their bicycles in advance. With one hour to spare before departure, our bikes were on their way, but not before getting one stuck in the x-ray machine. The security staff allowed Tom to bypass the x-ray machine, but they swabbed his plastic cover for bomb residue.

The flight on Air Canada 872 was a very quick 6 hours and 30 minutes, owing to a good tailwind from the remnants of Hurricane Ike. We arrived in Frankfurt over 30 minutes early, at about 6:15 a.m. After a very long wait trying to get through immigration, we once again checked our bikes in at the oversize luggage area. It was a good thing this was available, as the line-up to check in for the flight was incredibly long, and we probably would not have made it. After paying an additional €70, Tom and Yvette's bikes were shipped out to the airplane. We arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport, Terminal 1 at about 10:00 a.m. local time. After picking up our luggage, we proceeded to put our bikes together. Out of the suitcase came Bike Friday. In about 45 minutes my trusty steed was back together. It was the first time I had traveled with the bike in its suitcase since I had bought it in Oregon 3 years earlier. I was beginning to like this bike - free travel and no hassles (...or so I thought). Tom and Yvette simply had to re-install their pedals, and re-align their handlebars. Yvette's front tire was also flat, so that was quickly attended to. The pump that her partner, John had given her would prove to be very useful on this trip. It was the kind of pump that had a foot post, and easily pumped up our tires to 80+ psi. The inline pressure gauge on the pump also proved its worth.

Yvette and Tom getting ready to leave just after lunch

After a light lunch of baguette sandwiches, we started for the door on ground level. Our route out of CDG for the Paris environs would be guided by the descriptions provided by a couple of web sites: Q. May's excellent write up, and another web site by Dan Smith that combined some excellent photos, and maps.

We did not get more than a few meters when Tom felt a very disturbing clunk. His derailleur had snapped off and then lodged into his spokes. Closer inspection revealed that a heavy object had bent the chainstay into the chain, snapped the derailleur and even bent the rear rack. Tom’s bike was toast! (Later, after arriving back in Canada, it cost Tom over $500 to have his bike properly repaired.) A quick discussion ensued, and it was decided that Tom would take the RER train into Paris and meet Yvette and Kevin at Notre Dame Cathedral. Tom would check that area regularly, starting around 4:00 p.m. If he had time, he would also secure a hotel for the night, somewhere close to Notre Dame. and try to get his bike fixed.

Tom's poor derailleur - sheared right off, rack bent, and possible bent frame. The wheel was able to be salvaged, but chain, derailleur, rack, and chain cassette were "toast", plus the frame itself was bent. Unfortunately, Lufthansa said we were too late in filing a claim. Photo by Yvette Mahieu

Yvette and I started our ride from the airport at approximately 1:00 p.m. We found it to be a very difficult route to get out of the airport, partly owing to the fact that we thought we would be arriving at terminal 2, so we threw away the information sheets about cycling from Terminal 1. Also, the road names were very difficult to find. C'est la vie. What we were trying to do was get from the north side of the airport to the south side. We had to stop and ask for directions several times in the first few kilometers.

The Concorde on a pedestal at CDG

The initial road out of the airport was extremely busy, and we sometimes found ourselves crossing 3 lanes of busy traffic to get to the appropriate exit. With the trailer on my Bike Friday, maneuvering proved to be quite difficult. The tires occasionally hit the curb as I found myself too close - this was the first time I had really used the trailer other than a few local test rides in Canada. I heard Yvette scream more than once ..."Keviiiin", as my trailer was almost airborne.

Just to the east of the airport, we start our south turn onto road D84- at last some respite from the busy traffic!!

At the south side of the airport, after we got on Road D88, we found a delightful bike path which we rode to the west side of the airport. Here we consulted the map and realized we missed the appropriate turnoff. Rather than backtrack, we decided to continue in the general direction in the hopes of regaining the planned route somewhere further along. In the village of Tremblay en France, Kevin had the only flat our group encountered while riding - just after hitting a bad bump on the road. Yvette hit the same bump, which jostled her red LED safety light onto her rear tire, jamming it. She stopped first, and yelled ahead for me to help her, as her tire would not move. We soon discovered the problem and quickly rectified it, only to discover my rear tire had gone flat. I am actually getting quite good at changing the small 20" tires on the Bike Friday. With Yvette's assistance we were underway in less than 30 minutes, with a lot of credit going towards her very handy tire pump. This sounds like a long time, but you have to remove everything from the back of the bike. Then, with small 20 inch rims, the tire beads seem to hold like glue. I have broken more tire levers changing a total of three flats on the Bike Friday (always the rear tire) than I have changing all the rest of the flats I have ever had.

While I changed the tire, Yvette fielded several inquiries in French about how to get to Paris - unfortunately, we were not much help in that regard.

Even though we were very close (we think), we never regained our road, and we ended up cycling through busy towns and suburbs of Paris with no bike paths. Once again, we found ourselves stopping several times to ask for directions to the Ourcq Canal, which would take us right to the Bastille in Paris. By the time we finally acquired the canal, we were just at the edge of Paris at the "Geode" in the Parc la Villette.

Kevin Riding the Canal l'Ourcq in front of the "Geode" Photo by Yvette Mahieu

From here, the last 10 km into Paris was quite pleasant - either directly adjacent to the canal on a wide bike path, on dedicated bike paths slightly away from the canal, or on shared bus/bikeways. The entrance to the canal was a welcome site, and it was followed by Kevin trying to maneuver his Bike Friday avec trailer between two narrowly spaced steel poles guarding the entrance to the cycle path. It didn't quite fit, and Kevin found himself anxiously unclipping just before hitting the pavement. More embarrassed than anything else, he picked himself off the pavement and commenced riding once again. About 500 metres later, Yvette commented that the trailer no longer seemed to be tracking directly behind the bike, but was displaced even more to the left. After quickly rebending the trailer hitch, all was well again. At this point, Kevin noticed blood coming from the calf of his left leg from three puncture wounds inflicted by the Bike Friday's chain ring. This was starting out be a heck of a day!

When we finally reached the basin of Canal l'Ourcq, we angled slightly more south and followed the Canal St. Martin, then cycled along Richard Lenoir Boulevard to the Place de la Bastille and then over to Notre Dame. We arrived at Notre Dame at 6:00 p.m.

Our arrival at Notre Dame Photo by Tom Jolliffe

Tom took the RER to the St. Michel station. With no elevator, he ascended two long escalators holding his bike. He then had to climb a set of stairs, lift his bike over the turnstiles and then go up one final set of stairs. Once he surfaced, he realized that he had a flat. He proceeded to repair his flat, and managed to find a closed cycle shop - Gepetto and Velo. Tom then checked into the Hotel Vendome, left his bike and headed for Notre Dame to find the rest of the crew.

As planned, we met at Notre Dame around 6:00 p.m., walked to the hotel, cleaned up and
then went out for dinner. We then altered our original plans and decided that we would
spend the next day in Paris and arrange to rent a bike for Tom.

Kevin's arrival beer - man was I thirsty!!! Photo by Yvette Mahieu


Total Distance: 49.5 km Total Time: 5 hours
Average Speed: 14.7 kmh
Conditions - Fairly busy initially the first few kilometers out of CDG, then fairly quiet country roads, followed by busy sections through small continuous suburbs, followed by delightful bicycle paths along canals through to the centre of the city. Very complicated route instructions had us asking for directions several times.


Day 2 - Tuesday, September 9, 2008 -
Paris to Paris

Greetings from Paris once again ...

Checkout time at the Hotel Vendome was 11:00 a.m. Kevin woke up and went “It’s 11:00am. I can’t believe I slept that long - 12 whole hours”. Having not slept the previous night on the flight, it’s not surprising that a few extra hours of snoozing were in order. We did not take long to get ready, but the checkout was delayed until 11:30 a.m. Thankfully, the hotel did not bill us anything extra (I think €160 was enough for one night!).

We quickly packed, checked out, and headed to the Gepetto & Velos cycle shop 59 rue du Cardinal Lemoine, 75005 Paris to inquire about bike repairs. Tom’s bike could be repaired, but parts needed to be ordered and would take about three days. Tom opted to rent a bike so as to not hold up the trip. For only €50 for the entire week, Gepetto et Velos set Tom up with what we would call the "Tomahawk". This was a hefty 30 pound steed that had the unfortunate characteristic of self regulating its tire pressures at 25 psi. Once filled with air to 80 psi, the tires always found their way back to 25 psi by the next morning, but never went flat. Tom also found the bike difficult to shift (probably due to lack of familiarity). Unfortunately, Gepetto & Velos was a very small shop so they were unable to help with the storage of Tom's bike for a week while we were gone. After arranging to pick the bike up on Wednesday morning, we set out to find another hotel, as the Hotel Vendome did not have a room to accommodate three people for another night. Not even one block away, we found the Hotel Familia. The manager was very accommodating, and took us next door to the co-owned three star Hotel Minerve. The staff was wonderful, and when we explained our dilemma, they allowed us to store not only Tom's bike, but Kevin's rather large suitcase used to transport his Bike Friday. Of course, we also had to book and pay for another night on our return - only €180 for the night, inclusive of breakfast.

Outside the bike shop before we picked up the "Tomahawk"

After a light lunch of (guess what) sandwiches on a baguette, we were off exploring the City of Lights. We walked to Notre Dame, and took two L’Open Bus Tours - the Bastille, and the Grand Tour. Cheese, wine, baguette (yes, again) and pain au chocolat made for an inexpensive but basic French dinner.

Rental bikes in Paris - thousands of them!!!

View down the Champs Elysee toward the obilisk. Photo by Yvette Mahieu

You might start to think we have a drinking problem after all these "bar" pictures
Photo by Yvette Mahieu

Local "scenery" - we thought their hair matched the fence.

Tom, is that the alcohol talking? Photo by Yvette Mahieu


Day 3 - Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - Paris to Versailles
- 29 km -

Greetings from Versailles, France!

Kevin and Yvette had their bikes packed and ready to go by 9:00 am. We went to Gepetto & Velos and Tom picked out a hybrid bike to ride. With a few adjustments and a change to clipless pedals, we headed off towards Versailles, via the infamous Place de l'Étoile, a large road junction in Paris, and the meeting point of twelve straight avenues (hence the name "Star Square") including the Champs-Élysées which continues to the east. This is the location of Paris' arc de Triomphe. To get to l'Etoile, we followed the Seine River to Pont de l’Alma and then the Avenue Marceau to the Arc de Triomphe. After some pictures and a few hesitations, we rode the path of former Tour de France champions, and we did it with the road traffic!! We rode about three quarters l'Etoile, exiting at Avenue Foch which took us to the Bois de Bologne.

Kevin about to ride around the Arc de Triomphe!!! Ten lanes of traffic.
Photo by Tom Jolliffe

View from the footbridge towards la Defence in Paris

Generally, we followed Q. May's directions for the most part out of the city. We crossed a footbridge over the Seine to St. Cloud and attempted to follow a route through St. Cloud to the Parc de St Cloud.

The Eiffel Tower as seen from the footbridge in St. Cloud, just after crossing the Seine River.

We missed our intended route through the park, so we elected to ride road N185 all the way to Versailles. We found the traffic very light, and we did enjoy some bike paths part of the way. There were a couple of hills along this stretch that did keep our average speed down, including a hill in St. Cloud, just after the footbridge that found Tom and Yvette pushing their bikes.

We entered Versailles around 2:00 p.m., and after 30 minutes found the tourist office. Our plan was to tour Versailles and then cycle to Chartres the next day. However, we were informed at the tourist office that due to the setup of a special art exhibit, the palace would close early at 4:00 p.m. today. This didn’t leave us enough time to get a hotel and then tour the chateau. So we changed our plans again, deciding to tour the chateau in the morning and then take a train to Chartres the following afternoon.

Yvette and Tom just outside the palace at Versailles

The rest of the day was spent finding a hotel, getting cleaned up, meandering about Versailles and enjoying the atmosphere, beer and pasta at a couple of sidewalk cafes.

Total Distance: 29 km
Average Speed: 14.7 kmh
Conditions - Fairly busy roads, and then quiet country.
Total Distance: 73 km
verage Speed: 20 kph
Conditions - Generally rolling hills, with two fairly steep climbs.

DAY 4 - THURSDAY, SEPT. 11, 2008 -

Greetings from Chartres, France!

Today we were up at 7:30 a.m., and out of the hotel by 8:40 a.m. We did not check out right away, but left our luggage and bikes at the hotel. We made our way over to the Chateau, which we toured until 1:45 p.m., taking in a guided tour of the King’s Quarters. By 2:15 p.m. we were back at the hotel, and by 2:30 p.m. we were on the train to Chartres. This was the only way given our time constraints to properly tour the Chateau at Versailles, and get to Chartres at a reasonable time.

Staircase in Versaille Chateau - yeah for elevators!!!

Infamous Hall of Mirrors in Versailles Chateau

What we called inappropriate art - for Versailles, kind of neat elsewhere, though

View out the window overlooking the gardens

I always wanted to say, "I painted that".

Chateau Gardens Photo by Yvette Mahieu

Kevin in the Chateau Gardens Photo by Yvette Mahieu

The only difficulty we had at the train station was getting our bikes down to the train platform. This invloved climbing down two flights of stairs, and then of course, back up two flights of stairs. The train to Chartres was well equipped for bikes, with a dedicated car to handle them. However, we were not the only ones with bikes on the train, so we had to stand holding them for the 50 minute train trip to Chartres. The ticket price was quite reasonable as well - less than 25 Euros apiece.

Tom on the train from Versailles to Chartres - his turn to hold the bikes

After arrival in Chartres, we scoped out several hotels in the downtown core by the train station. All of the hotels in our price range were full, however we were directed to the Novotel on the outskirts of town, where they had room. After riding six kilometres out of town, and meandering around a residential area close to a mall we found the Novotel, but the prices on the billboard outside were a bit pricey, at €110. We sent Yvette next door to La Bonne Étoile, where she secured us somewhat Spartan accommodations for the bargain basement price of only €48 for all three of us.

Yvette on the top bunk, Tom "down under" in our Chartres Hotel room

The desk clerk was most accommodating, and allowed us to store our bikes in the hotel laundry. The room consisted of a double bed on the floor and a single bunk bed above. A small desk with a television, and a shower cubicle rounded out the small room. Within 15 minutes of settling into our room, the heavens opened up – thunderstorms pelted the area with heavy rain for about two hours, and cooled of the temperature from about 25°C to only around 15°C. It was the only rain we saw on this trip.

After the rain ended, Yvette and Kevin sauntered off on foot to the grocery store (Carrefour) and picked up some necessities – cheese, a baguette, wine, chocolate, and some Kleenex tissues for Tom (who was by now suffering the effects of a cold).

Total Distance: 9 km
Average Speed: 17.2 kph
Conditions - Fairly busy roads.


Day 5 - Friday, September 12, 2008 - Chartres to Chateaudun
- 58 km -


Greetings from Chateaudun!


It was a cool morning – about 12°C under cloudy skies. We pedaled the six kilometres into town and toured Chartres Cathedral for about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Afterward, Tom and Kevin enjoyed a Café au lait at a café across the street from the cathedral.

Chartres Cathedral


Chapel to Virgin Mary in Chartres Cathedral


Intricate wood carving in Chartres Cathedral

At about 11:30 a.m., we started our bike ride out of town towards our first encounter with the Loire. It took about 30 minutes to find our way out of town on the meandering streets, with poor signage. Kevin said he saw a sign the day before that led to the highway we were looking for. Tom took us a “shorter” route, instead of backtracking to the train station. Unfortunately this route led us
to a one-way street (which would have been the correct one, had it gone in both directions), which we initially started walking down on the sidewalk with our bikes. After multiple map referrals and a few wrong turns we found our route, the D935 towards Chateaudun. This was to be the first of many D roads: D935 to Dammarie, D127 to Fresnay-le-Comte to Meslay-le-Vidame, to Bronville to D154 to Bois-de-Feugeres.


Just leaving Dammarie on the D127 "highway"


We crossed the N10 to join the D153 to Dangeau where we stopped to eat some snacks. Dangeau had some very beautiful rustic old Tudor style buildings. These roads treated us very light traffic. However, every town we cycled through was blessed with poor signage. This caused a lot of wasted time and frustration, as we had to continually consult our maps.


On the road to Dangeau


The wind was very brisk, and in our faces as we headed west. Tom had a few problems keeping up with us today. He found the “Tomahawk” incredibly heavy and slow, and his cold was not helping. Much of the scenery on today’s ride reminded us of southern Ontario, without the trees. Generally, the terrain was very flat to gently rolling farm country. Some of the “D” roads seemed nothing more than single lane bike paths. Vehicular traffic on these roads was very light. We managed to see two deer and one pheasant today, as well as my first exposure to another French beast, the infamous TGV, or Train Grande Vitesse.



Tom relaxing after a struggle with "Tomahawk"


We left Dangeau on road D941, crossed the TGV line and headed towards Logron. While gearing down for a hill, Yvette’s chain slipped off and got caught between the rear fork and chain stay. It took about 15 minutes of prodding before Tom and Yvette were able to free the chain. Kevin, meanwhile was waiting at the top of the hill for a photo op. When neither Tom or Yvette
appeared after about 10 minutes, he reluctantly rode down the hill looking for them (reluctant only in the respect that he knew he would once again have to climb back up the hill).

After Logron, we crossed the busy road D955 and continued on D23 to Lannerayand the D31 to St. Denis and Chateaudun. Chateaudun is an old fortress town, so of course, it just happens to be on the top of a steep hill. The final 2 km into Chateaudun were very steep. Kevin pedaled up in his lowest gear. About ¾ of the way up, he came almost to a standstill as a school group was quickly chaperoned across the roadway in front of him. Yvette, then Tom – pushing their loaded bikes, followed him up the steep incline.


Yvette and Tom pushing their bikes up the final hill in Chateadun.
The picture does not do it justice - it really was quite steep!!!

We pedaled around town looking for signs to local hotels, and we settles into the Hotel St. Michel at 28, 200 Chateaudun. A triple room cost €56, and they charged an additional €2.00 per bike to have them stored in a secure, locked garage. Breakfast cost an additional €8.00 apiece, which seemed to be the going price for hotel breakfasts in France.


Fountain in the town square in Chateadun

Dinner that evening was at a nearby pizza restaurant, which served an interesting choice of pizzas, including salmon, and camembert cheese. Most places in Chateaudun appeared to be closed by 7:00 p.m., and we were fortunate that we were eating reasonably early (from European standards), as most of the tables in the restaurant were reserved, and people were turned away
after our arrival. The three of us dined for only €32.60, and could barely walk out!

Cloudy skies gave way to the sun, but the temperature was still cool in the mid- teens. However, we did walk around the town and were treated to one of the most delightful signed walks on the trip – through many narrow, winding, medieval pathways which led us past old Tudor styled timbered buildings built on very steep streets. We took many pictures of the castle at dusk bathed under a full moon.


Chateaudun at dusk...

Total Distance: 74.6 km
Average Speed: 17.9 kph
Time: 4:09
Conditions – Light traffic on narrow country roads, a bit busier approaching




Day 6 - Saturday, September 13, 2008 - Chateaudun to Beaugency

- 54 km -


Greetings from Beaugency!

History - Click here


We started down the hill from the Vieux Ville at about noon hour, after viewing the chateau for 1 and ½ hours. This chateau was my favourite that we visited during this trip. It was quaint, and was not overrun by a huge crowd of tourists. It did not look like anything changed since the middle ages. The château was built in four stages from the 12th to the 17th centuries. We could clearly identify the different construction periods and architectural influences on the chateau.

Chateaudun in the morning ...


Intricate masonry work at Chateaudun


View of Chateaudun from the chateau


Tom in front of Chateaudun in the morning ...



At first, it looked like we had “lucked out” when we easily intercepted our intended road, D31. However, after about 4 km, we rode into St. Denis de Pont (where we had come in from the previous day), and realized that we had cycled the wrong way out of town. Surprise, surprise!!! We backtracked somewhat until we intercepted the D925 south towards Beaugency.


We found it!!! On our way to Beaugency...



The farmland planted with corn once again reminded us of southern Ontario. The land was very flat, with few trees, and very few villages. Nobody seemed to complain. Conveniently, the D925 went directly to Beaugency, so traveling this route was much easier without the frequent road changes experienced the previous day. With the wind at our backs, and very light traffic, we decided to continue with D925 into Beaugency, instead of angling slightly eastward to Meung-sur-Loire.


Tom and Yvette on the D925 to Beaugency


Arriving in Beaugency at 2:30 p.m., the manager of the first hotel we tried, Le Relais des Templiers advised us the hotel was “complet” – full. He added, “This is the Loire Valley, we are always full”. Thankfully, he called ahead to the Auberge Maille d’Or, and reserved a room with two double beds for €97.50. After a day of cycling, the stairs up the winding staircase to the fourth floor “attic” were tough. Our room was quite spacious, and had exposed timber beams in the ceiling. This hotel had a very fancy dining room (which we never got to experience), and a lovely inner courtyard complete with chairs and tables, and a swing set for children.


Entrance to our Hotel in Beaugency


Beaugency hotel inner courtyard


We walked around the town, exploring the riverfront, which had a rather large campground, and Beaugency’s famous bridge over the Loire River. Beaugency was liberated in 1429 by Joan d’Arc, and was a constant battleground in the Hundred Years War, as it was the location of the only bridge over the Loire. The 26 arch bridge still stands, and apparently gives excellent views of the medieval castle, although we did not actually venture onto the bridge itself.


Yvette and Tom in front of the Beaugency Bridge


Tom checking out his "accommodations" in Beaugency. " A bit hard", he said.

After dinner, three tired cyclists retired to bed for a good night’s sleep. Tom’s cold was improving, but Yvette now was hampered with her own cold. Fortunately, Kevin remained free of a cold throughout the trip.


Total Distance: 54.0 km
Average Speed: 23.6 kph
Time: 2:16
Conditions – Flat terrain, with light traffic on narrow country roads.


Day 7 - Sunday, September 14, 2008 -
Beaugency to Blois (via Chambord)
- 45 km -


Greetings from Blois!


While the Hundred Years War raged, an event took place that determined the future of the county of Blois, the ancient fortress became a royal castle. At the end of the 14th century, the county of Blois was sold to Prince Louis of Orleans, son of the king of France Charles V. He lived in the castle for 25 years attracting a small court of scholars and poets. His grandson, Louis XII became king of France in 1498 and decided to move to Blois, in this way, the small town became a royal town and the capital of the Kingdom. Under Louis XII and Francis I the town of Blois grew considerably. But after the disaster of Pavia in 1525, Francis I never returned to Blois and his successors only paid short visits to the town.


After having the usual French breakfast at the hotel (croissants, baguettes, coffee), we got off to a 9:00 a.m. start. We had pumped up Tom’s tires to about 50 psi from 30 psi, and he found the riding to be much easier.

After wandering around Beaugency, we acquired a signed (imagine that) gravel cycling path along the Loire River. It eventually narrowed to a single lane, rutted, dirt “cow path”. After about 2 km, we turned off this path and regained city streets. We met up with a local cycling club out for their Sunday ride, and rode with them for several kilometres. They did not seem to be in any particular hurry, and in fact, many of their members seemed to be older riders in their 60’s. We
separated as we came upon a small town holding a town-wide street sale. Kevin answered several inquiries about the ubiquitous Bike Friday, and was offered cookies by one of the vendors.


Tom and Yvette checking over their bikes on the way to Chambord

After a few kilometres we joined a secondary road and cycled through small villages until the D112. The D112 crossed the Loire and lead us directly to Chambord. We entered the Parc de Chambord but still needed to cycle for another 6 kilometres before we reached the chateau.

We crossed the Loire River on road D112. This road lead us directly to Chambord. It was really no wonder to us why the peasants revolted against Royalty when you see the opulence of this chateau. It literally took us another 15 minutes to cycle from the entranceway of Parc de Chambord before we reached the actual chateau. The “gentleman”, Francois I, started construction of Chambord in 1519, and construction continued through the 1560’s when the
treasury finally dried up. Francois resided at Chambord, with its 365 fireplaces, and 440 rooms for a grand total of seven weeks.


Yvette and Kevin in front of Chateau Chambord - count the chimneys, all 365 of them! Photo by Tom Jolliffe


We toured the castle and its impressive grounds for about two hours, at a cost of €9.50. Here we met with other cyclists out on tour, including an American couple from Colorado.



Tom making like a prince in his cycling duds


Tom climbing one of the spiral staircases, supposedly designed by Leonardo da Vinci.



After leaving Chambord, we linked up with road D33 for the final 14 km into Blois, a very hilly city on the Loire River. We again crossed the Loire into Blois and looked for our hotel that we had pre-booked while in Beaugency.


Yvette and Tom crossing the Loire River into Blois, with Blois Cathedral in the background.


Walking the cobblestones on the way to the hotel



This hotel would be our base for two days – it would be nice not have to pack everything up the next morning. After checking into the Anne de Bretagne Hotel, we still had time to tour the chateau, for €7.50. The desk clerk recommended the “Monarch” for dinner, and made reservations for us there. Kevin had perch, which was served in a glass for €18.


One caveat when you are making phone calls home to North America from France .... absolutely buy one of the inexpensive phone cards for about 10 Euros. This will allow you to call home for about 20 minutes. We made the mistake of direct dialing from a phone booth using credit cards. Bottom line - $250 for 3 phones calls totalling 12 minutes. That works out to more than $20 per minute!!! Never again!!! Another option to calling home to Canada is using Canada Direct. Download a wallet size Canada Direct card.


Hotel Anne de Bretagne - our balcony on day one was right above where the bikes were stored overnight.

Hotel Anne de Bretagne - Tom and Kevin in their Sunday "best". Photo by Yvette Mahieu


Tom in front of the chateau at Blois. Nice jersey - haven't we seen that somewhere before?


Looking down on our subjects ... Photo by Yvette Mahieu


The spiral staircase at Blois Chateau


Room in Blois Castle. Notice the intricate mosaic pattern on the floor.


Stained glass windows in the chapel


Louis XII's Porcupine

I feel your pain - gargoyle in Blois Castle


Queen for a day



If this is opulence, where is the glass in this window?


Church in Blois



Total Distance: 45.2 km

Average Speed: 19.4 kph

Time: 2:19

Conditions - Generally flat terrain, cycle paths along some roads, but light traffic on most other roads. Sunny, with a good tailwind today.  



Day 8 - Monday, September 15, 2008 - Blois to Chenonceau

- 95 km -


Greetings from Chenonceau!


After breakfast, the three of us left for Chenonceau at about 9:30 a.m. The route out of the
city was very easy, and for the first time we did not get displaced, disoriented, or lost. We rode mostly on the N751 to Chaumont, then D114 for a 1 kilometre climb to connect with D27 to Chisay, then the D176 into Chenonceau. The road was fairly busy out of and into Blois on the D751, but other than that, there was fairly light traffic on fairly flat roads, with gently rolling hills once you got past Chaumont. We once again had sunny skies, with temperatures in the +10 to
+20°C range, and a 16 kph wind from the east.


A view of Chenonceau with part of the gardens


Kevin in front of Chenonceau (or is that the back) Photo by Yvette Mahieu






We are not alone ...

Tom left us in Chaumont, as originally planned, as he did not think he could make the entire trip on the “Tomahawk”. He toured the chateau in Chaumont instead. At the top of the hill in Chaumont, we were greeted by a nice patch of sunflowers, and on the way back to Blois, Yvette had her picture taken here. Yvette and I arrived in Chenonceau at 12:30 p.m.

Chenonceau is a reasonably compact, but beautiful chateau, which crosses the River Cher. Diane de Poitiers and Catherine Medici occupied it in the mid 1500’s. Indeed, women throughout the ages largely influenced this chateau’s construction. It took us all of 1 hour and 30 minutes to tour Chenonceau and its beautiful gardens. We arrived back in Blois at 5:30 p.m., which also included a one hour stop at the chateau in Chaumont (we couldn’t resist). Chaumont involved a big climb to the top of the hill where the chateau was located.


Drawbridge was down - we can enter ...




Imagine waking up to this view every morning


Sunflowers in Chaumont



After Tom arrived back in Blois, he booked our train passage back to Paris, and paid for the tickets. Our cycling was almost done.


Total Distance: 95.9 km
Average Speed: 22.4 kph
Time: 4:17
Conditions – Generally flat terrain, with some hills in Chaumont, followed by
gently undulating terrain thereafter.

The Rest of the Trip ...


Day 9 - Tuesday, Sept 16, 2008

We packed and left for the nearby train station at around 9:30 a.m. We caught the train to Paris at about 10:45 a.m. and arrived at the Gare D’Austerlitz at 12:30. We walked our bikes to the Hotel
Minerve, ditched our luggage and then returned Tom’s rented bike to the Gepetto & Velos cycle shop. It took almost an hour to return the bike as a group of about 30 cyclists were renting bikes from the shop.

We had the rest of the day to poke around Paris. We went to Sacre Coeur, Montmartre and the Hotel des Invalides. While in Montmartre, Yvette, Kevin and Tom parted with many euros as we purchased several paintings from the local artisans, and almost "lost our heads" to a couple of artists who quickly made paper silhouettes of our heads. In five minutes or less, they had made reasonable facsimiles of our profiles. All for the small price of 20 Euros apiece. Beware of Frenchmen with paper and scissors. After lightening our wallets here, Tom and Kevin decided to have a beer at a local bar across from the Place de Tertre. Again, we were "relieved" when our wallets were emptied of almost 19 Euros for two Stella Artois beers (about $15.00 apiece in Canadian funds).


Well, at least they let us use their washroom for "nothing"... Photo by Yvette Mahieu



We walked by some famous landmarks including café Le Chat Noir, le Moulin Rouge (home of the famous cancan dancers, and a favourite haunt of Toulouse-Lautrec). We also walked by Le Lapin Agile (a favourite of Picasso). And don’t forget to mention your two very expensive beers – two Stella Artois beers for 18.40 Euros.. After dark we went to the Eiffel Tower to see the tower basked in blue light and to watch the sparkling light display that lasted for 10 minutes.


Sacre Couer in Paris


What were these two really doing in Paris?


Le Chat Noir - Pigale Photo by Yvette Mahieu


Yvette wanted to take in a show at Moulin Rouge - we convinced her that 80 Euros for the show were a bit much.


Each one of those white lights is a strobe going off in random order every night on the hour for bout ten minutes
Photo by Yvette Mahieu


Photo by Yvette Mahieu


Day 10 - Wednesday Sept 17, 2008

We had the day to tour in Paris. The Louvre was our primary objective where we spent most of the day. After the Louvre, we visited the Jardins les Halles and walked past the Pompidou Centre.


I.M. Pei's Pyramide - the entrance to the Louvre


Kevin and Tom in front of the main entrance to the Louvre Photo by Yvette Mahieu



Nap crowning Jo - painting in the Louvre


"The Lacemaker" - painting by Johannes Vermeer Photo by Yvette Mahieu


Painting by Peter Paul Ruebens Photo by Yvette Mahieu


Tom at the Pompideau Centre

We returned to the Hotel Minerve, where we caught a shuttle bus to the airport at 5:00 p.m. A wild ride to the airport kept us alert, as our driver took every opportunity to cut off or butt in front of other vehicles. No such thing as a polite driver, it was every man for himself.


Kevin and Tom waiting for the shuttle in the lobby of Hotel Minerve Photo by Yvette Mahieu

An enticement was required to have the driver stray slightly from his intended destination at the airport so as to drop us off at our airport hotel. He seemed relieved to bid adieu to us and our annoying bicycles. Either that, or he wanted to get the heck out of the way before we figured out he had ripped us off to the tune of an additional 15 Euros.

Our accommodation for the night, the Etap Hotel Roissy CDG Paris Nord 2 was quite inexpensive at only 49 Euros for the three of us, plus an additional 5 Euros apiece for breakfast. Not surprisingly, the room had very little space. There was no chest of drawers, only one chair, and not even a full washroom as the sink was in the bedroom. As well, another bunk bed rested over top of the head of the bed, a very cosy night. We did not even get a key for the room, but instead were issued a key code both for the elevator, as well as another password for our room.

Day 11 - Thursday Sept 18, 2008.

We attempted to catch the 8:10 a.m. shuttle to Terminal 2, but it was full. Fortunately the next
shuttle was empty. The driver hissed, moaned and groaned in garbled French as Tom enquired about loading the bikes on the shuttle. His ramblings were ignored by Tom as we quickly moved to get his and Yvette’s bikes on the shuttle. The front wheels were removed and the bikes stashed in the back of the shuttle, sprawled on the back row of seat. The groans from the driver subsided and we were off to the airport.

After some confusion we found our gate. As usual, the attendant didn’t know how to ticket the bikes. With some vague instructions we managed to find where to pay for our bikes and where to drop them off at oversize luggage.

The return flight was delayed but we soon bid adieu to France. We arrived back home between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m., 19 hours after having left the hotel at the Paris airport. This time, with no additional damage to our bikes.

Some final notes on the Paris to Chenonceau Tour


Recommendations: This bike trip could have easily been made on rented bikes, and would have been less hassle. I would recommend renting a bike in Blois and using Blois as a hub for out and return trips. Of course, if we hadn't had so much hassle with Tom's bike, I probably wouldn't be saying this, partly because we would not have discovered how easy it was to rent a bike in France. We would also not have known how inexpensive it was - only 50 Euros for the entire week. This would work on this bike trip only because we were doing a "loop" and were departing from where we arrived from. However, if you were coming in at one point of entry, and leaving from another, it would not have been practical.


Average high
Average low
Warmest ever
Coldest ever
Average dew point
Average Precipitation
Wonderful river riding! Spectacular castles and chateaus are to be seen along this route. Thanks for inspiring me once again, Paul. Also, we could cut a few days out of this tour by combining some of the shorter days. But then again, there is so much to see, so why bother?
Total Distance
Approximately 357.2 km

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