Author Archives


Le Grand Tour: Day 44 – Lyon To Sault-Brénaz (81km)

I don’t like Mondays… Someone has beaten me to the song. I really don’t like Mondays in France as most places are closed. There is a special corner in hell for bank holidays that happen to be on a Monday in France. Today was one of the latter. Nothing open whatsoever this morning. We are celebrating the ‘Assumption of Mary’. Not being a man of religion I don’t know what Mary was assuming but perhaps it was that there might be something, somewhere that was open to buy lunch on a Monday bank holiday in France. There isn’t. Even the French are exasperated; one couple who were cycling in the opposite direction stopped me in desperation at around midday asking if I’d passed an épicerie that was open. I hadn’t. They broke down and sobbed beside the cycle path in desperation. I told them my plan was to survive on my box of peanuts until I could cook something in the evening. I scarpered as quickly as I could lest they use force in getting hold of the cacahuètes. When I did I turn to look, I could see them chasing after me using surprisingly fluent Chaucerian language vowing to prise the peanuts from my hands. The entente cordiale only goes so far… They were my peanuts. I digress.

Le Grand Tour: Day 43 – Tain L’Hermitage To Lyon (By Train)

Caught the train to Lyon this morning. After all the heat it’s perhaps not surprising that when the rain decided to fall it put on quite an impressive thunder and lightening show. The downpour was, at times, torrential but as I stand here looking over the Rhône in the centre of Lyon, the rain has stopped, the clouds are breaking and perhaps we are in for a better afternoon.

Le Grand Tour: Day 41 – Chateauneuf-Du-Pape To Montélimar (93km)

Today has seen some of the best cycling of the trip so far. I had, in my mind, relegated the Via Rhôna to a fill-the-gap route that I would have to endure in order to get me from the Mediterranean to the Alps. If today’s cycling is anything to go by, it’s no fill-the-gap route. Far from it… There is real geographical drama in the Rhône valley and I can only see that increasing. I (almost) feel sorry for the hoards of touring cyclists passing me heading south to that roundabout in Sète which has about as much geographical drama as your granny’s pond. I’m heading to the Alps and the drama can only intensify the further north and east I travel. After the relative disappointment of the Canal du Midi, I have embraced – and am loving – the Via Rhôna after just two days. Montélimar? Mmm… Keep reading.

Le Grand Tour: Day 40 – Montagnac To Chateauneuf-du-Pape Via Sète (77km + Train + 24km)

Day 39 existed. I didn’t just time-warp myself from day 38 to day 40 but having met up with friends Basil and Liz in Pézenas yesterday lunchtime after having done my pit-stop tasks (washing, post office, podcast editing…) we had a very enjoyable afternoon and early evening of drinking, eating, wandering, drinking, eating and drinking. I took one picture…

Episode 057: Le Grand Tour, Part 6 – La Véloroute Des Deux Mers From Bordeaux To Sète / Canal De La Garonne & Canal Du Midi

The Cycling Europe Podcast continues to follow Andrew Sykes as he cycles on his ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe. He has now arrived in Bordeaux at the start of the ‘Two Seas’ cycle route – La Véloroute Des Deux Mers – that will take him along the Canal de la Garonne to Toulouse and then the famous Canal du Midi to Sète on the Mediterranean coast. As he cycles he takes time to speak to the people he meets and explore the places he visits. And what will he make of the notorious Canal du Midi towpath that he encounters?

Le Grand Tour: Day 38 – Pouzols Minervois To Montagnac Via Sète (134km)

I’’m glad to have finished the Canal du Midi section of the Canal des Deux Mers cycle route. Now in Pézenas – I’ll explain in a moment – the highlight of yesterday was cycling along the excellent voies vertes that brought me inland from Sète yesterday evening. Cycling at the end of the day is something that doesn’t often happen (the way I tend to organise my days) but the advantages of cycling at that end of the day are similar to those of early morning cycling; quieter roads, cooler temperatures and the ‘golden hour’ sunlight that washes a beautiful soft tint over the landscape. It’s also worth noting (and remembering) that the winds tend to die down in the evening. Mmm… Perhaps I should do night shifts on the bike.

Le Grand Tour: Day 37 – Alzonne To Pouzols-Minervois (71km)

I’m on one bar of 3G tonight so getting anything uploaded aside from some good old text is very doubtful. No, more than doubtful; it won’t happen as I’m not even going to try. I’ll update this post tomorrow morning with the pictures and the video (which is ready to go!) and for anyone thinking of cycling the Canal du Midi, it really is a video you need to watch…