Le Grand Tour: Day 13 – Nogent-Le-Rotrou To Alençon (93km)

CURRENT LOCATION: Camping Guéramé, Alençon

Today was the equivalent of a cycle touring spinning class. Well, mostly. Almost the entire route from Nogent-le-Rotrou to Alençon was off road and along a very long disused railway line. I almost felt guilty for having made all of those men work so hard 100? 200? years ago in building the railway line in the first place. Now it’s ‘just’ being used by cyclists and walkers. But hey! At least it’s still in use… 

I survived my night at the Camping Marie-Celeste (as I call it) in Nogent-le-Rotrou. I wonder how many campingd municipaux have closed or seriously downgraded their offer since COVID. It’s difficult to see how a place like the Marie-Celeste (real name Camping des Viennes by the way…) will survive once the local authorities are offered a few hundred thousand euros for the land to build flats. It’s another camping municipal tonight here in Alençon and, bearing in mind that it is high season, there’s plenty of space. A bit busier than last night; there are at least six cyclists here; two single tourers and two couples and a decent number of caravans and camper vans but if Billy Smart’s Circus were to rock up at the gates they’d fit in quite easily. The animals could be caged in the tennis courts and nibble the weeds. I don’t think a ball has bit hit on them since Henri Le Conte was strutting his stuff. 

This is all a bit depressing. I’m not depressed at all. Just sad about the decline in the popularity of the French institution that is the camping municipal. Perhaps my mind will be changed over coming weeks. Let’s hope so. 

Back to the spinning class of a cycle. A pretty constant rhythm throughout the day following the disused railing line. The shade afforded by the vaulted arcade of trees on most of the route was very welcome. There was a diversion at the point where I noticed the “bugger off we are not giving you water!” sign (loose translation there but that’s the gist of what they were saying). I wonder if the deviation and the hostility towards cyclists by that one person were connected. The (proposed) Ryburn Valley Greenway near to where I live in West Yorkshire faces struggles with nimbies not wanting the great unwashed anywhere near their front door. They dress it up as protection the environment but we all know the truth. It seems, perhaps, that this is a French example of nimbyism or pdmcaism (‘pas dans mon cour arrière’ which, admittedly, doesn’t really work in French). 

I deviated away from the voie verte voluntarily to climb the hill to Mortagne-au-Perche to seek out lunch and then again towards the end of the cycling day to seek out the Musée du Vélo in Villeneuve-en-Perseigne. That was an interesting little place. Listen out for the next podcast and I’ll give you a little guided tour… 

The video upload is struggling tonight so you may or may not see it in the next hour or so. If it’s not here, please return later as it includes views of me cycling (a rare thing indeed) and some GoPro timelapse now that I have cobbled together a Heath-Robinson solution to the battery issue. Still on course for Mont-Saint-Michel on Sunday…


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2 replies »

  1. That looks like a very easy ride. If only we could do the same with all our ex railways!

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