Bar-le-Duc to Attigny, France – 66 miles & 646 metres climbed

They say to foreigners, who visit Britain, that if you have to eat British food then have the breakfast three times a day. I can see the attraction for the French as they don’t have hot breakfasts! And if I’ve complained how drab McDonald’s food is then finding that their Gallic restaurants don’t do the Breakfast Menu reaffirms that they’ve even missed out the best bit. With this in mind I pedalled past the Bar-le-Duc one knowing it was a ‘Sausage Egg McMuffin’ free zone. Inconsolable.

The harvested corn fields I cycled through were scenes of great conflict a little over a century ago in WW1. The Germans attempted their invasion in this area from the East and due to the nature of wide opened spaces it appears indefensible. Along my ride were cemeteries and memorials to these conflicts and horrific losses. As in British towns then villages always have a memorial with countless names on the cenotaph. The scale of the remembrance to the fallen throughout France is enormous. It is quite stark in its scale to the few monuments of the war 20 years later. Here you’ll see an odd roadside headstone to a member of the Resistance or maybe a plaque on a bridge that the Resistance defended or blew up against the Nazis.

In Saints-Menehould I stopped off at a roadside bar for a couple of Cokes and enjoyed the ambience of a busy Sunday social scene.

I soldiered on in the heat and the traffic was literally non-existent on this Sunday. I eventually dived into a town, Vouziers, and found a cafe in the square. Here I joined three Belgian lads in the shade having a late lunch. I had a large chicken kebab and they had pizzas. They were riding their motorbikes back from a wedding to Belgium and had stopped off to recuperate. We talked about the World Cup and my trip. One motorcyclist was interested in my thoughts on Croatia. I was positive but not as much as he was. One of his friends rather ‘popped his balloon’ by commenting that his enthusiasm was heightened by some holiday romance in Zagreb!

So where tonight? I decided Attigny looked good. In fact it would be my third visit – once by bike and once previously in the Morgan. I shall never forget my first visit when a Dutchman suddenly appeared on my pitch with a cold can of beer. No such luck today. Being such a short day on the bike I was able to wash and dry laundry and pop into town for a beer at a bar. This nearly proved embarrassing as I didn’t have any cash to pay for it and had to pop out to find an ATM.

Being Sunday the restaurants were shut but I found a boulangerie for a grim sort of pasty. In fact I can advise that if the French combine pastry and meat it is not a happy event, ever. It was a quiet night and the sleep was needed.

Heaven Is A Place On Earth (Belinda Carlisle)

(Hammer: French lady)

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