CURRENT LOCATION: Dieppe
Phew! What a scorcher… And it’s apparently going to get hotter. I daubed myself three times today with factor 50 but I’ll be investing in a cap of some description tomorrow (as well of more supplies of the sun cream). Yet I’m staying well hydrated and fed by the French. Today’s food has all come courtesy of the toil of French labour; pastries from the boulangerie in Le Crotoy, fruit from a market in the same town and now a three-course meal in Dieppe at a restaurant called Le Sully. So far – a starter of smoked salmon and herring on a bed of new potatoes – so good, but I’ll update you as the meal progresses… I feel like Rick Stein without a film crew (and a bicycle).
That campsite last night was a cracker. The little wooded island in a sea of mobile homes was just perfect. Take note should you be cycling the EuroVelo 4 as the route passes right outside the entrance. As per usual, I was up and on the bike quicker than Nadine Dorris tweets vacuous platitudes about Boris Johnson when a crisis hits. The cycling consisted of bouncing off the coastal towns as the route of the EuroVelo 4 / VeloMaritime snaked its way south(ish) along the coast to Dieppe. Some cracking places to visit, chief amongst them Le Croytoy which was picture perfect to the point of me wondering if I’d wandered onto the set of a film. The main meal – faut filet with Rochefort sauce – has arrived so bear with me…
The cycle path followed the Baie de Somme for most of the morning which meant a confusing relationship with the wind. I never did figure out from which direction it was blowing, but such is the quality of the cycle route itself, why complain? The French have put some serious investment into this route and it’s evident to see. Easy to follow, signposted, mainly off road. This is what happens when you put your money where your mouth is. We were promised a ‘golden age for cycling’ not that long ago in the UK. Many countries – including France – are beginning to live it…
Cyclists were out there in their scores. Admittedly most were day trippers who had probably hired the bikes but there were a decent number of cycle tourists. I tossed a cheery ‘Bonjour’ in their direction. Some reciprocated, some didn’t. Update: the steak was very nice. Cheeses to come.
Mers-les-Bains was my first Belle Époque town. I’ve been waiting to find one since crossing the border into Belgium from The Netherlands but none have delivered until today. Another coastal town called Le Tréport, just to the south of Mers-les-Bains also has Belle Époque credentials but sandwiched between the two is a curious wasteland housing not much apart from the shared train station and the Canal de Somme. I think they should propose merging and sort out the bit in the middle. A Jacques Tati theme park? (You heard it here first Tim Saunders.)
Shortly after the climb out of Le Tréport – cracking views from the cliff looking north by the way – I found something that I had been looking for since setting off from the campsite: a sign telling me how many kilometres to Dieppe. 27. Fewer than I had imagined so with renewed energy I set off and counted down the kilometres through pretty countryside and smart little villages until a final decent brought me into the port of Dieppe.
I’ve never been here before and it seems worthy of a day of exploration so the plan is… two nights at the Ibis Budget hotel, a day of exploring and planning tomorrow before setting off for Paris on Sunday morning. I’d like to work out where I can camp on Sunday, Monday and probably Tuesday in advance. I’ll scrutinise the Cicerone guide but if anyone has any suggestions, please do let me know. Until tonight, my average accommodation spend per night has been just €10. I feel that if I can maintain that level of expenditure, it allows me to splash out a little on the rest day, sleep in a proper bed and eat in a nice place like this. Now, where’s that cheese???
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