France - Day 18 : Party day?
We left early and bought bread and raisin buns at the first bakery we passed. We followed an easy, big road to Champlite. The weather was terrible but became better throughout the day. At about 11 o'clock we realized there wouldn't be another village for another 40 km, so we went in search of food. Every town we passed had no bakery or supermarket. We figured we might reach Montesson before all stores closed at noon. The village was on top of a hill, with a 12% climb. At 11:55, we still had one kilometer to go. We made a final sprint, hungry and thirsty, and arrived just in time. There was no bakery.
We ate our last piece of bread and continued. In the city Bourbonne-les-Bains we hoped to find some food. Unfortunately, there was a street fair, so the main road was closed. At least we found some ice cream. We considered waiting 45 minutes until the stores opened, but that seemed boring. We hadn't really eaten anything since breakfast 70 km ago. Along the way we passed through other villages, but those were small. It seemed like today was some holiday. When we arrived in the big village there was a detour which we ignored. Suddenly a whole bunch of speed cyclists passed with a car behind them. I heard them say this was their last loop. Bram just wanted to continue, over the race track. We almost got into a fight, until I told him that I heard this was their last loop, which Bram didn't know. After the last cyclist we continued to the village center. The only baker in the town was closed because it was hard to reach because of the race.
We had no choice but to again continue without food. Ten kilometers further we entered a tiny village. There was a big sign indicating there was a large supermarket in the previous town with the cycling race, which we must have missed. Eventually, we came to a larger village (although we needed to take a detour to get there). By now, we had also been out of water for two hours. In the village was another fun fair. All stands were closed, so we couldn't even buy candy. The local bakery was again closed for this joyous day. It didn't feel like a party for us.
We didn't know what to do. In Neufchateau would almost certainly be a store, but that was another 20 km. I wanted to go there as fast as possible, just to have it over it. Just when we left I noticed a plum tree in the garden of an abandoned house. We jumped off our bikes and started eating. After 10 minutes we were still devouring them. We didn't have any water but the plums helped. Now we could reach Neufchateau without starving.
In Neufchateau everything was closed as well. The Aldi, Lidl, Intermarché, everything. After a long search we found an open bakery. They also had some drinks. Finally, we could eat, it was 5 o'clock. After dinner the weather seemed to get worse. Today we wouldn't be able to reach an official campsite. The nearest was still 70 km away. We wouldn't be able to arrive there before 10 and have to cycle through the large city of Toul, potentially in the dark. We took a smaller road 30 km before Toul in search of a spot to pitch our tents. What we saw there was classic cycling vacation material. Everywhere along the road were vegetable gardens with plums, apples, pears, berries, and a lot more fruit, while we had been starving the entire day. We picked some brambles and put plums in our pan to eat before going to bed.
Around 8:30 we searched for a camping spot, which wasn't easy because of all the vegetable gardens. There were forests just a kilometer away, but all behind the gardens. In the next village we were finally able to reach them. There was mud everywhere. We walked along while trying to reach the main forest and find a place invisible from the path. We ate some plumbs before going to sleep. Just when we got into our tents it started to rain, which became increasingly worse. After 30 minutes it was a torrential downpour. It kept raining hard the entire night so we both hardly slept.