Caen to Angers
5 a.m. and we get a short message “we will reach Caen, France in 30 min”. It’s safe to say that my body didn’t agree. As I was getting off the ferry, I didn’t even know what my name was but I had to smile and say “Bonjour” to the officer that checked my passport.
Quick tuna sandwich at 6 a.m. and on my way, I was. As I left the port vicinity I hopped on a cycling path and didn’t get off for at least 50 kilometres. To such an extend is the bicycle worshiped in France that you could probably cross the country and never leave a cycling path! The rain apparently followed me over the channel from England for the most of my first day in France. I had to download an audio book to stay sane – The Art of War by Sun Tzu – great book about war tactics but very short. Considering it was raining I said why not Moby Dick next? If you would like to use a free audio book app that has a decent number of free books – LibriVox is a good option. You see, this is informative as well!
The cycling path took me on a smaller river valley and at one point everything started to look similar and repetitive. So, what does the Romanian do? Picks up a fight with the hills in the Normandie-Maine natural park. This round went to me but by the end of the 105km of the day I barely managed to go up the hill of the fortress Domfront. But what a relief I did! Domfront, although not being well-known between Frenchmen, it’s a medieval village in Normandy that hand on heart, was the most charming and peaceful place I have ever been to. The cathedral took the center stage with bars and bulangeries all ready for a 1900’s film. Stone houses and cobbled streets were accompanied by “nobody” on the streets apart from the locals.
Camped overnight overlooking Domfront and off I went to welcome the Loire and EuroVelo. Today was on the same theme, haystacks and rain plus some overly-photogenic cows. I can safely say that North of France is mainly industrial and agricultural with corn fields everywhere. After around 80 kilometers I got bored of it and reaching out to the Warm Showers community there was a host that was happy to have me for the night. What is Warm Showers you may ask? It’s a community of cyclists hosting other cyclists. It’s a niece version of couch surfing but let me say what a great community it is! The last 20 km were a pain, google maps taking me to pass through hedges and bushes numerous times but I got there!
The beauty of meeting people
Arriving into Angers, Cecile straight away put a smile on my face welcoming me with 3 kisses – even if I have never met her before! Her house was gorgeous, having a balcony overlooking the fort and the main square. Location, location, location… She shared the house with 4 flatmates all of them being of the nicest kind. One “warm shower” later and Cecile tells me that they are going to a concert and I should join. With a little picnic basket off we went and what a great way to immerse in the French culture. Meeting her social group, I could not help but notice what a pleasure of life everybody had. Simple, happy lives. Apparently, the concert is every Tuesday and Thursday of the summer months and that was just a context for people to meet share food, drinks and smile. Every person was smiling while talking and the relaxation was floating in the air. C’est la vie, I would say…
Furthermore, one of her friends was hosting other 2 cyclists through Warm Showers coming from Brussels to cycle the Loire valley. Meeting more than 15 people I made sure I placed a smile on their faces with a little compliment or anything that could improve their well-being ( although they didn’t need that) – another 15 on my smile-meter please!
Next morning, I said goodbye to Cecile and her flatmates and I could not thank them enough for taking care of me and showing me their ways of life! I didn’t even had to ask what made them happy because it was so clear. Their friends and family was their center of the world – they haven’t even mention work, only pleasure. Have fun on your cycle next week Cecile and Merci beaucoup pour votre hospitalité!
And if I covered so much ground already, why not share with you what I have seen first hand from the saddle?
Loire Valley, please do not disappoint!
Overview: Caen to Angers
186.8 km,1643 m climbed,11h