Worst Western

August 13th, 2011

Day 91 – Cormery to Azay-Le-Rideau

Tuesday August 2, 2011, 38 km (23 miles) – Total so far: 3,354 km (2,084 miles)

We awoke to rain. It’s crazy, we have had a few hot days in a row, then out of the middle of nowhere it rains!

We packed up a wet tent and went into town for some breakfast (we were out of cereal). We grabbed a couple of quiches for now and some pain au raisins for later in the day. As we sat by the river eating our breakfast, a couple of english speaking cyclists (with no luggage) looked a bit lost, so we gave them directions to the cycle route.

We also decided to follow the cycle route rather than the main roads. It was a but further but it was nicer riding. We caught up with the english speaking cyclists we met earlier. “Where are you guys from?” I asked as I overtook one of them with my fully loaded bike (I just had to point that out!). “New Zealand” she replied. “Cool me too”.


They are the first kiwis we have met on the trip. They were doing a weeks ride, but someone else was carrying their luggage and they were staying in hotels. That’s cheating.

There were some houses built into the hills on the route.


It rained on and off all day so we decided a hotel would be the way to go. We noticed there was a Best Western in Azay-Le-Rideau so we decided to navigate to there, and coincidentally, that’s the way the cycle path would take us.

We arrived at the Best Western soaking wet. We asked to view the room, but the lady told us we weren’t allowed to view the room first due to security practices. This seemed odd, as we have never been refused to view a room. She assured us it was a lovely room with a double bed and shower. This triggered alarm bells, but I chose to believe her as the standards of
Best Westerns has been really good in France.

So we checked in and the room was tiny. The bathroom also was tiny. We have stayed in better 1 star hotels. We felt we had been conned into taking the room – but it was wet outside, we were tired, the stupid lady on reception could not speak English – so we left it at that.

The more I thought about it, the more I believe we were conned and I started getting really pissed off about it. So I emailed a note of complaint to Best Western (using the Best Western internet).

Azay-Le-Rideau was really touristy and we couldn’t figure out why. We had been to far nicer towns with far less people. There is a chateaux here but big deal – there are chateaux everywhere.

All the restaurants were really touristy too and I didn’t like the look of any of them. Then Mike noticed a little restaurant tucked away down a side street. It was awesome. We had a really nice meal and it made up for the fact we were ripped off with our accommodation.

*** Update 13/08 ***

I got an email back from Best Western today (13/08) offering us a 50 euro Best Western voucher for use worldwide and it never expires. We were well pleased about that. So that 66 euro crappy hotel only cost us 16 euros.


August 13th, 2011

Day 90 – Rosnay to Cormery

Monday August 1, 2011, 88 km (55 miles) – Total so far: 3,316 km (2,060 miles)

It was really hot when we arrived in Loches. We found the tourist office and enquired about the camping but it was going to cost us 37 euros to camp! ‘Thats expensive’, I said to the tourist officer. ‘Oh, but it’s a 4 star camping ground’ she proudly announced. I whispered to Mike ‘In other words, no toilet seats OR toilet paper’.

Even though we were hot and bothered, we picked up some dinner supplies and decided to continue on a further 22km to the next campsite (hence the high kms).

We found a small municipal campground in Cormery, just south of Tours. It was quiet and we had another nice nights rest.

One Steep Hill Then lovely flat

August 13th, 2011

Day 89 – Cuzion to Rosnay

Sunday July 31, 2011, 53 km (33 miles) – Total so far: 3,228 km (2,006 miles)

It was another lovely hot day, the weather forecast was for 27 degrees (a lovely change considering it was 6 degrees a few days ago).

We woke up late as our tent was in the shade so didn’t get packed up until after 11am. It was really hot already and we still had that steep hill to deal with.

Thankfully it was only 600m that we had to push our bikes up so we just took our time taking regular breaks. It was probably one of the steeper hills we have had, but as it was at the start of the day it wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be.

To make up for it, the rest of the day was really flat. It was Sunday, so all shops were shut and we had to get bread before noon. Thankfully we found a bakery with a nice square so we bought a couple of pepitos and ate them. It was one of those stunning sunny days that just makes you feel so happy.

Square where we had our pepitos.


As we continued our ride along flat country rodes I kept saying to Mike “I’m so happy, I love this so much”. It was true, it was a real feel good riding day after all the crap weather we had been having.

After 58km we found a nice little campground beside a lake for only 6.30 euros. It was 20km to the next camp and we both felt like continuing as we were on a high from the riding.

We decided that it would be madness to continue. What more could we want. cheap camping, nice campground and we had done 58km already. so we stopped for the night.

I thought we left the expensive campsites on the coast

August 13th, 2011

Day 88 – Guerret to Cuzion

Saturday July 30, 2011, 58 km (36 miles) – Total so far: 3,175 km (1,973 miles)

We left Gueret and had another hilly days ride. We both couldn’t wait to get out of the mountains. We are carrying way too much gear.

We navigated to a town called Eguzon as it looked pretty major and we were sure to find accommodation there. We are pretty paranoid now as we have had numerous occasions of being cold and wet and there being no accommodation.

We were knackered by the time we arrived Eguzon. We found the tourist office and enquired about the camping but it was going to cost us 25 euros to camp!

We knew there was another one about 6km away, but when we got there it was a 3km detour (which means a 6km detour there and back).

We ummed for a bit trying to decide whether we could do the 23 kms to the next campground but decided a 6km detour might be the better option. Until we came to an extremely steep downhill. Extremely steep downhill means pushing our bikes up the next day. We ummed again about whether to continue.

We decided we had come this far we should continue. I was panicking that is was going to be expensive like the other campground. Greedy campgrounds really piss me off. We made it to the bottom and were pleasantly suprised. It was a nice quiet campsite next to a river, and it was only 6.90 euros to camp. Panic over!

We cooked our dinner, drank some red wine and tried not to think about that steep hill to climb in the morning.

Nice reflections from our camp.


More Hills

August 13th, 2011

Day 87 – Felletin to Guerret

Friday July 29, 2011, 52 km (32 miles) – Total so far: 3,117 km (1,937 miles)

It was a nice downhill run out of Felletin. After 8kms of downhill we came across an awesome campground that would have been nice to have camped at. Pity the stupid girl in the tourist office didn’t tell us about it – would have saved us 65 euros!

We stopped at the Ambusson carrefour for lunch supplies.

We cycled through this town that was playing pink floyd music as we rode through. very cool.


It was more hilly riding but we managed to stay off the main roads for most of the day.


We decided to try and find the campground in Gueret. The GPS took us via some funny routes, down a dirt track and up some steep hills.

We finally found the campground beside a lake. It was 12.40 euros, which wasnt bad considering it is in a major town. The facilities were poor though, with squat toilets.

We found ourselves a quiet little spot, sat down and started cooking dinner when a french caravan turned up and camped right beside us. FFS – there were plenty of spaces but they chose to camp right in front of where were were cooking. No idea of personal space!


August 12th, 2011

Day 86 – Ussel to Felletin

Thursday July 28, 2011, 57 km (35 miles) – Total so far: 3,065 km (1,905 miles)

We awoke to a pretty cold morning. There was high cloud in the sky. but it didn’t look like it would rain. We did the usual routine. Mike got up and made a cup of tea, I stayed in bed.

We backtracked to the supermarket and picked up some bread and ham for lunch.
We then continued on up a steep hill. Mike ran out of steam and started pushing his bike up. “I’ll wait for you at the top” I said as I cycled past him, stopping about 2 feet in front of him. “Think I’ll give my knees a break” I said as I started pushing my bike as well.

Most of the day was really hilly. We were uncertain which direction to head. We knew if we headed too far NW then we would end up on mount villechache something and that was pretty high. The tourist offices only have information for their own region. Trying to get information from them about other regions is useless. They don’t know and they don’t care. This is something that has started to piss me off as sometimes we only touch on a region.

We stop in a town which is in a new region but couldnt find a tourist office. It is a pretty small town, so we figured it probably didn’t have one. We find a seat, which is possibly in someones back yard, eat a couple of pain au raisins and study our maps. It is 25 kms North-East to Crocq or 37km North to the bigger city of Aubusson. We were unsure if Crocq would have a hotel or camping ground as a lot of the smaller towns don’t have anything. The extra 37km will push our kms to about 64 kms for the day, which is a lot when we aren’t used to all the hills.

We decided to push on the 37 km to Ambusson as we know they would have a hotel if the weather turned bad. We hop back on our bikes in the direction of Ambusson and viola, the tourist office!

We stop, dump all our old region maps in the bin, load up on new region maps and are on our way. There is a town 28km km away called Felletin, which has a hotel and a camping ground. We arrive in Felletin feeling pretty knackered after a hilly 52km. We stop and the sun comes out. The decision for camping is made.

We go to the tourist office to find out where the camping ground is. “It’s only 5km out of town” the tourist officer anounces proudly.

“Shit, I don’t reckon I can do another 5km, especially if there are hills” I say. We check out the hotel. It looked pretty 1 starish. “OK, lets camp. We’ll go to that shop over there and get some cream and I’ll do a mushroom and had creamy pasta with that tin of mushrooms we bought the other day”. Deal done, we grabbed some cream (a 3 pack was cheaper than a single pack) and 4 beers.

We leave the shop and there is a big black cloud hovering over us. after 30 minutes procrastination, I decide we should stay in the hotel. It was only 44 euros and the bathroom was right next door. Thing is 44 euros turns in 75 euros once we have dinner. oh well, it was comfortable. But of course it didnt rain.

To Ussel

August 12th, 2011

Day 85 – Saignes to Ussel

Wednesday July 27, 2011, 59 km (37 miles) – Total so far: 3,008 km (1,869 miles)

We awoke to sunshine – YAY!. I was out of bed at 7am determined not to get rained in again. By some crazy miracle we were on the road by 9am (normally we are lucky to get away before 11am).

Funnily enough it started to cloud over at 11am so it was a good call leaving early.

We followed the cycle path along the old railway for a bit until it ran out. It was then a pretty hilly ride into Bort-Les-Orgues. This seemed like a touristy town so we didn’t stay long. We tried to extract some information out of the tourist office but they were useless.

It was another steep ride out of Bort-Les-Orgues in the direction of Ussel. We both felt like we had heaps of energy after 4 days rest so it wasn’t too bad. It was threatening rain again so we tried to find a hotel in Ussel but they all seemed to be closed.

After mucking around in the town for ages we had to use the tom tom to find the tourist office. Turns out there was camping in the town and the sun was coming out so we decided to camp.

It was about 3 kms up yet another steep hill to the camping. It was a nice municipal campsite overlooking a lake. It was only 9 euros to camp and they supplied toilet paper (a definite bonus in France).

We set up our tent with a view overlooking the lake, then cycled back 2 kms to the supermarket for dinner supplies. We cooked a wicked chicken curry, accompanied by 1.5 litres of red wine. We ended up a little bit pissed but slept well.


August 12th, 2011

Day 81 – Ally to Saignes

Saturday July 23, 2011, 43 km (27 miles) – Total so far: 2,950 km (1,833 miles)

It was a pretty lousy ride today on hilly main roads. There was also a lack of hotels on the route. We checked with a tourist office earlier in the day, and there was a hotel in Ydes. We stopped there but the hotel was closed.

It was getting late in the day and was threatening rain. We were a bit worried about getting wet and cold with no place to stay. We saw a sign that Saignac was only 6 kms away along a cycle path that followed an old train line. Even though we were pretty buggered, we figured we could handle 6km of flat riding.

We left Ydes and it immediately started chucking it down with rain. We sheltered under a tree for a while waiting for it to ease off. That last thing we wanted to do was get cold and wet.

After about 30 mins, the rain stopped so we continued on. We had about 3.5km of flat riding, then the road to Saignac headed away from the cycle path and up yet another lousy hill for the final 2.5 kms. By the time we reached Saignac we were wet, cold and buggered.

We found a hotel which was 46 euros for the night but it was completely full. Despite the fact we were dripping all over the hotel floor, the kind lady rang a nearby Chambre Dote (B&B) for us but there was no reply.

We decided to go and check it out the b&b for ourselves. It was up the top of another bloody steep hill. So steep that we had to push our bikes up. To top it off, it was chucking it down with rain.

I was really starting to complain at this stage. We made it to the top of the hill and the b&b was totally deserted. Nobody was anywhere to be seen. It was 7pm, getting dark, it was cold, wet and there was nowhere for us to stay. We had no idea if there was anything in the nearby towns. We decided to head for the municipal campground as a last resort, although putting up a tent in this wet weather would be seriously miserbale.

As we cycled into the campground I noticed they had on-site caravans. Please Please let them have one free I thought to myself, not wanting to say it out loud in case i jinxed it.

Thankfully the camp ground was still open and they did in fact have a caravan free. It was awesome. It had a huge lounge area, two bedrooms, a toilet and shower, and a full kitchen including cooktop, oven, microwave and fridge/freezer. It also had a heater.

It was 50 euros a night and we ended up staying 4 nights here, as everyday we woke up to rain.

Castle in the mist:


Day 80

August 12th, 2011

Day 80 – Aurillac to Ally

Friday July 22, 2011, 50 km (31 miles) – Total so far: 2,906 km (1,806 miles)

It was a pretty uneventful cycling day. We were glad we stopped the night at Aurillac as there were no hotels on the route today.

Luckily we found a 1 star hotel after 51 kms. It was 40 euros for accommodation, but the room was one of the worst we have stayed in. There was no way I was going to be fussy though. There was no way we were going to camp in this dodgy weather.

On the positive side though, we had one of the best meals of the trip. They had a set menu of 20 euros. I had salad to start, omelet, lamb, cheese then desert (mousse I think).

Roannes Saint Mary to Aurillac

August 12th, 2011

Day 79 – Roannes Saint Mary to Aurillac

Thursday July 21, 2011, 22 km (13 miles) – Total so far: 2,857 km (1,775 miles)

It wasn’t raining when we woke up so we finally made the break from Roannes-Saint-Mary.

The ride started with a long steep downhill run, followed by a long steep uphill run. As I was struggling with the uphill run, a road cyclist came hurtling down the hill from the opposite direction and clapped at me. Insane, there is no way I would be taking my hands off my handlebars at that speed.

After about 10 kms we came across a Decathlon (our favourite store in the whole wide world).

I bought myself a cheap 6 euro raincoat as my 85 pound endura one leaks.

We arrived in Aurillac after only 15 kms, but again it was threatening to rain so we decided to seek shelter for the night. We booked into the Best Western restaurant for 88 euros including breakfast. A bit more expensive than Roannes-Saint-Mary, but still nice to have a roof over our head.