Europe 2009: Mile 3003

1st May 2009

Roads made for touring, France

Roads made for touring, France

Happy birthday to me! Yes today is my birthday. Always, for me, a depressing day, full of memories of achievements not achieved, of memories of people no longer with us. Strange maybe but this is always a day I do not look forward to. After breakfast at the hotel we packed the luggage, got the bill for the room (85 Euro/night + 10 Euro for parking – ouch! – definitely not worth that!) and left. We decided to head to Sedan via Vouziers andwewerevery glad we did. A very nice road with stunning scenery. Open, more agricultural but brilliant. The road was mainly “straight” with a few sweeping bends – nice easy riding. Since we are on our way home we took it slow (50-55 mph). On the way we went through the town of Pontfraverger-Moronvilliers which appealed to my puerile sense of humour. We filled up at Vouziers which was as it was a public holiday in France and the pump oly had a card reader with which to pay. Unfortunately all the instructions were in French. Anyway Isabel managed to work it all out (well we hope she did – otherwise we have managed to purchase the whole petrol station – we will see when we get the credit card bill).

Lac du Baison, France

Parked up at Lac du Baison, France

Off we went again and at about noon we stopped at a shop for some bread for lunch. We also purchased some nice strawberries because, well you have to don’t you? We then saw a sign to “Lac du Baison” so we decided to go and see what it was (yes I know it was a lake but we wanted to see how big etc.). This was a good move because the lake itself was very pretty. We stopped at a parking/picnic place by the lake for lunch.  We feasted on bread, tinned herring, coke and, of course, the strawberries. Simple, maybe, but in such a setting with a blue sky and the sun on our backs pretty damn perfect! 🙂 There were a lot of grebes on the lake, all seemingly unbothered by our presence.

After lunch we continued on towards Sedan. There were camping sites and more picnic places (including one with barbecue facilities) along the lake. The scenery had become more wooded but was just as pretty. Eventually we entered Sedan where we had thought to get a hotel for the night. One look at the town told us (probably unfairly) that Sedan wasn’t worth it so after a quick conference at the roadside we decided to head for La Chapelle. As we rode through Charleville-Mézières we decided to turn off at Renwez to see what hotels were nearby. Looking at the GPS showed that there was a hotel called “Abbeye de Sept Fontaines” about 8 miles away. It sounded nice so we decided to go and see. Indeed it was very nice but completely out of our price class. After a very dodgy u-turn in front of the parked Porsches and Bentleys and headed for another hotel shown in the GPS.

After ignoring the GPS trying to take us off across a grass field we got to the hotel. Unfortunately the parking area, roads and, in fact, the whole town were chock-a-block full of people there for a fete or some such thing. We decided to continue and see what we could find at La Chapelle. When we got there it was OK as a town so we once again plumbed in the GPS which indicated the presence of a hotel south of where we were. Of course, being us, we were pointing North so we turned the bikes around and off we went. The only problem was that we couldn’t find the hotel – bummer! So ignoring the GPS we headed for the next town – nothing – then, through sheer bloody-mindedness on my part, the next town where we struck gold (and platinum and diamonds if you ask me). Riding through the town we passed a “hotel” sign. As there didn’t seem to be anything else we decided to turn round (we are getting a lot of practice at that today!) and see if they had a room.

Luckily they did and what a place this turned out to be! “Le Clos du Montvinage” seems to be an old fashioned country house I think with old fashioned rooms and a quiet attached restaurant, a slightly eccentric host together with a Harley-Davidson trike riding cook (the hosts husband). Brilliant! For both of us it was love at first sight so we have awarded this hotel

Five sarges

We took the panniers to the room up a nicely creaking wooden spiral staircase that was so old it had a camber. We then showered and laid down for a rest because Mr Teddy was very tired. About 7 we arose, changed and went for a quick walk in the village (Etreaupont) before heading back to the restaurant for a birthday meal. Three course and cheese for 25 Euro together with a very nice bottle of St emilion (2005). I had Foie Gras in Aspic followed by young rabbit in mustard and cider sauce, cheeses (including Bleu de Brest which is very nice) and creme brulee. Isabel had Warm Duck Pate, Veal in creamy mushroom sauce, cheeses followed by a hot chocolate “thing” (her description not mine!) followed by coffees. All very very nice. After that we staggered the few yards (mercifully) back to the room (where the camber on the stairs was very useful), closed the window shutter (brilliant invention by the way) and were dead to the world. All in all not a bad birthday!

Lessons Learnt:

  • Not everything that is on the GPS is actually there
  • Sometimes a brilliant hotel is worth searching for

Adrian & Isabel

& Mr Teddy

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