Our trip to the Semaine Federale this year at Mortagne-au-Perche started early to beat the seasonal hike in ferry prices designed to catch those restricted to school holidays for travel.
With time to spare we decided to explore the area and our first stop was going to be Fougeres, a town I passed through on my French coast to coast last year but had no time to look around, its large and imposing Chateau had warranted further investigation.
After an overnight stop at Hermanville-sur-Mer Kaye had agreed to drive the motor home so I could cycle to Fougeres and it was nice to wake up to sun and blue skies although the stiff south-westerly wind was going to be in my face all day.
We had agreed on a lunch time rendezvous, Kaye can keep an eye on my progress using the “Find My Friends” app on the i-phone. My French trips seem to take on a familiar riding pattern of a morning stop for pan-au-raisen and coffee, lunch of bread and cheese and a post ride cup of tea and a French Tart, well………when in France…….
The first obstacle was getting through the town of Caen. I am not a great fan of cycle tracks so for route planning I use Ride With GPS set to “Driving” but at large towns I briefly switch to “cycling” and let the programme work out the ideal route. The cycle paths through Caen are well laid out with a joined up system to get you across the city and they are very busy at rush hour. All this takes time and with an extended wait as the marina bridge opened it took well over an hour to clear the city.
Once clear of Caen the countryside opened up revealing this years arable crop of choice which appears to be linseed closely followed by maize, the lanes are traffic free apart from the odd tractor and the road surfaces mostly smooth tarmac.
I had not paid much attention to the ride profile but soon discovered why the area is called “Swiss Normandy” as a series of steep climbs and descents slowed progress. The small country hamlets and villages are the very essence of France but signs of an economic downturn are clear with local shops closed and boarded up.
At Le Bosq I came across my first decorated water tower of the trip but I am not thinking this will win any prizes for artistic design. Travelling through France has revealed some really fancy designs and artwork on water towers and long may it continue to add interest to these otherwise austere concrete structures.
I met Kaye at Sourdeval only about 15 minutes behind schedule and as we ate lunch in the town square watched a steady influx of touring cyclists heading first for the tourist office and then the boulangerie to top up those calories.
The post lunch 40 mile ride to my destination was on mainly long straight undulating roads interspersed with the odd village that you can rely on to be demonstrating its civic pride with a floral display. All these villages enter the France In Bloom competition and passing through Le Neufbourg I was particularly impressed by a floral butterfly at the roadside.
Arriving at Fougere I met Kaye at the Free Camping Car Aire opposite the Chateau N48.35543, W1.21085 a good stopover with services that was very popular.
Stats for the ride: 92.5 miles 5416ft climbing