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France - Day 2 : Today is going to be flat

The night had been quiet, so we had slept well. It was pretty damp and cold out. Yesterday's route had gotten pretty hilly near the end. Today we thought it would be flat after the first few kilometers. There still was no desk or owner to be found, so we just left the campsite. It was still early, around 8:30.


In Rochefort it took some searching to find the main road. The first 10 km were all uphill. At least that allowed us to get warm. Eventually we took off our jackets and zipped off our pants' legs. The roads were small and nice to ride over. In Paliseul we visited a bakery. From there we could put away last year's maps (1:300 000) and use the new (1:200 000) ones. That made a big difference. There was a detour on the way to Bouillon. Normally we would just go ahead, because 'the cycling vacation stops for no one', but there was police. This was the first detour of the trip so we were not happy. Workers were cutting trees, so probably it was good to avoid the falling trees. We saw a side road and stopped for lunch. The descent towards Bouillon was pretty steep and long, it was the first real one of the vacation. Bouillon was a very touristy town in a river valley. We had to find a small route that would lead us across the French border.

We easily found the road, but it went up at an 15% incline. Halfway Bram got thirsty and wanted to filter some water, which was his excuse to take a break. I just wanted to climb up in one go. After another 20 meters I also felt like pumping some water. Just when we started a man walked by, he looked confused that we were pumping something from a random stream. We didn't know if the water was coming from a sewer but Bram said it tasted OK. 

The road continued through a forest along the French border. The mountains remained but became lower and the road was relatively level as we were following a river for 50 kilometers. We bought some food and drinks, including a bottle of Oasis, which is a sort of lemonade. From then on we drank a 2 liter bottle nearly each day. There are 9 flavors in total of which we tried 6. We ate ravioli on a bench and rested. It got a bit burned, but at least our camping stove worked well.

Back home we had planned to end up in Dun-Sur-Meuse tonight, but we already arrived there before dinner. From there we had to climb another 20 kilometer to keep the lead we had acquired yesterday, and then another 20 km to build a buffer in case we were slower in the mountains later on. From Verdun it was about 30 km to the campsite. It was a nice road through forests. On our left was a river with a small swamp around it and on our right a train track. We cycled for over an hour to arrive at a campsite in Villers-sur-Meuse. The campsite was on a farm and they sold local farm products. We bought a jar of plum compote to put on our bread. It was made in a traditional manner, with a layer of candle wax to seal it and a flannel cloth on top.

There were also some Dutch people. A woman came up to us. She knew we were Dutch by Bram's military print bivy bag. She asked where we were from so I said Valkenswaard. She said 'oh I don't mind if you speak with a Limburg accent, I can understand that'. I said 'so do I, but Valkenswaard lies in the province of Brabant, not Limburg.' Then she asked how far we had cycled. All those type of conversations went roughly same, depending on if we were closer to the Netherlands or to the Mediterranean sea.

'How far did you cycle today?"
"173 kilometers"

"That's a lot, where are you going?"
"The south of France"
"Oh are you doing part by train then?"
"No"
"And how long will it take you to get there?"
"We think about 10 days"
"And then you will take the train back?"
"No, we will cycle"

The campsite also had good showers. I even washed some clothes, which was necessary.

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Near Dun-sur-Muese we deviated from the planned route. The plan was to cross the river on to a less busy road. Instead, we stayed on the same road because it wasn't that crowded and the cycling went smooth.
 

Daily distance 170.63 km

Average speed 20.3 km/h

Maximum speed 63.5 km/h