I have just returned from a fantastic week in Normandy with my family where I managed to sneak in a couple of rides in the hills above Honfleur and along the Seine estuary.
Quite an eventful start as my rear hydraulic brake was not working when I unpacked the bike, with no way of fixing it, I took it off! I was riding an MTB with slick tyres as this bike fits nicely in the base of the boot with pram, luggage a bucket & spade on top.
The bike certainly received a few funny looks from the group of cyclist riding from London to Paris, I helped with map reading; and a Dutch couple touring who were fascinated by my lack of rear brake. It did make the bike lighter but unbalanced from an aesthetic perspective.
We are a great fraternity.
French roads are brilliant, whenever I ride in France I am amazed by the surface quality and the lack of traffic. The locals also have great respect for you as a road user. Riding along the coast road toward the Normandy landing beaches through the Calvados region (the jury is still out for me regarding the local apple liqueur (maybe that's cos it's pear - ed)) you really get a sense of the momentous events which happened along this coast. I recommend I ride along this road to the war museum at Caen (visited a few years back when my wife was at University in Caen) and the cemeteries of the fallen.
One morning I decided to ride over the Pont de Normandie, which was very disconcerting; fast moving traffic, a narrow cycle lane, the height above the river and the wind all contributed to an interesting experience.
Filling bidons from village spas, eating Parisienne style baguettes with cheese and drinking copious amounts of local wine are the rewards for 2 or 3 days touring.