Sunday, 5 June 2016

Stage 11 - Lewes - Newhaven - Dieppe - Forges Les Eaux. It was up so early we were not even able to say goodbye to our hosts, Rachel and Becky. But we were refreshed - another wonderful welcome and warm hospitality.. Thank you both very, very much. So onto the bikes and onto the road to Newhaven, swooping between the green hedgerows and through densely wooded areas towards the sea. The road was almost deserted..and even arriving at the Ferry Port was not crowded, though there was both a convoy of Belgian motorbikes, and a number of cyclists like ourselves setting off on a tour of France, some with almost no luggage, others with laden with camping gear and tents. I would not have liked to have attempted Carter Bar so equipped. We rolled onto the ferry and quickly found a place to call our own. The weather was glorious - almostt perfect for cycling. Then to sea. I am afraid we both took the opportunity to catch up on lost sleep. The weather changed. We arrived in Dieppe in cloud but not as cold as the previous week. Fortified with baguette and croquet chèvre, eaten surrounded by the bustle of the Dieppois Sunday market, we set off down the Avenue Vertte. Dieppe is an attractive port completely different from the modern sprawl of Calais which I was expecting. It remains a very traditional French town with character - rather like the swaggering statue of Abraham Duquesnes 1610 - 1688' Lieutenant General, standing in the main square. Leaving busy Dieppe behind we cycled the next 30 miles down this wonderful route converted from the old railway - no cars - families out enjoying a stroll, cyclists ( a few) the occasional rider and horse, almost the whole way to Forges les Eaux. The landscape very similar to the south of England , but definitely French as were the villages with their churches, the cross with a strong central tower. Gardens were plots often boasting a cow or two - and many had chickens. We cycled past a country fair with livestock and enormous agricultural machines, the traditional and the new, just packing up. So we arrived in Forges les Eaux on a Sunday evening. We found the hotel...but food? All cafes/ restaurants closed dimanche soir- except the Chinese restaurant,. Fear not, it was excellent, friendly with an attractive menu served piping hot. The next stage will take us to the outskirts of Paris - 50 miles or so...onward.

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