Day 1: #WorkCycleFrance
Subtitle: Not everything goes to plan but…
Brilliantly, the EasyJet flight from Glasgow to Paris arrived on time.
Annoyingly, the queue for passport control and then a hold up in retrieving my bike bag meant I missed a booked train.
Frustratingly, it cost 60 Euros more to book a far slower trains to my night’s hotel at Le Mans.
Fortuitously, this gave me lots of time to reassemble my bike.
Amazingly, it took only 20 mins including re-hanging the back mech, refitting handlebars and seat post, pedals, both wheels etc.
As expected (but still annoyingly) it cost 100 Euros to leave my bike bag in left luggage at the station in Terminal 2 of Charles De Gaulle airport, Paris. (There is a gap in the market for good ways to travel by plane with bike, go cycle touring and then return by plane with bike.)
Thankfully, it was not double that price. When I arrived at left luggage it said that large bags would be charged at double the price. I think that although the bag is big it is light so that cost the same as “ordinary” baggage.
Comically, I asked an armed security man to watch my bike while I popped to the loo. He agreed and smiled, but I wasn’t allowed to take a photo of this.
Scarily, the station guards were doubtful about me getting my bike on the train, despite my booked seat.
Thankfully, when the train arrived (late), the train guard said it would be fine to go to the bike carriage and place my bike there.
Excruciatingly, there was a horrible wait while other passengers tried to put their oversized bags into the bike carriage and I was made to wait on the station.
Forcefully, I barged through them, telling them it was a bike carriage and they could feck off. I did all this in English and I must have sounded bold because the French fell to the sides…
Annoyingly, (again) the bike carriage was full of bikes and luggage and so I had to make do.
Wonderfully, I sat down and a chap opposite started talking to me about his bike trip with his three fellow passengers. In basic English (his) and basic French (mine) we whiled away a pleasant half an hour chatting about my plans and his recent trip to Belgium. (Nice cycling apparently.)
Quickly, I departed that train at Massy to wait, with a beer and bottle of water, at La Gare for the next train to Le Mans.
Fabulously, I am combining a day of travel in France with bits and pieces of work and blogging.
Promisingly, it’s warm and bright in Brittany and I will be eating out in Le Mans with the PR representative for the Sarthe Department.
Truly, TGVs do not take bikes, even if you have a ticket for that train that was booked in Paris when you thought that you made it clear to the sales woman that, yes, the bike helmet and bike meant I needed to book only trains that take bikes.
Incredibly, and thankfully, the TGV ticket man took pity on me and broke all the rules to secretly stash my bike in a strange metal box style carriage, imploring me in basic English to tell no one about this.
Pleasingly, Le Mans, when I finally arrived, is clean and beautiful. The cathedral looks fabulous.
Tastily, I refuelled after my long travelling day on a traditional Sarthe meal and enjoyed the delightful company of Isabelle, the Sarthe Tourism representative dispatched to keep me company through dinner.
Superbly, my little Asus laptop is already offering great payback for the £150 outlay on Friday.
For a range of ideas for holidaying in the Sarthe area visit www.tourisme-en-sarthe.com