Monday, 6 June 2016

Stage 12 - Forges-les-Eaux - Cergy-Pontoise. Hotel St Denis despite a somewhat unprepossessing appearance, came up trumps; comfortable rooms - yes rooms - and then an unexpected breakfast - warm croissant and fantastically fresh bread. So we set off. We decided to follow the Garmin with the planned route. This took us through the countryside of Normandy and Picardy. A rolling route that was surprisingly easy to ride changing from a heavily wooded landscape to wide fields. The villages we passed through were traditional some well warn and dilapidated, others much more prosperous with well preserved grand houses. Yesterday we stopped briefly outside Mesnieres -en - Bray to admire the 15th century Chateau...lovely. Today our stop off was Gisors. This was a lovely town - a delicious Croque Monsieur followed by a wander round the church. This is dedicated to St Gervais and Saint Proteus, twins martyred by Nero ( according to the Golden Legend). The church was founded in the 12th century 1119 (I think) or there about. It was burnt down and rebuilt in the 13th courtesy of Blanche of Castille. It was then added to in the 15th and the architecture is a glorious mixture of the Gothic and Renaissance. It was - as might be expected - bombed during World War II, but has been well restored. There are fascinating little details that have survived - a stained glass window by Nicholas Le Prince from Beauvais (XV) detailing the extraordinary lives and death of St Crispin and St Crispinian who seem to have been rather difficult to kill. There was the trace of a mural portraying the members of the local confraternity, an extraordinary sculpture of a corpse with accompanying verse telling the viewer this was the fate of all. Definitely worth seeing. The journey then continued to Cergy. Unfortunately the planned route did not work, and though it meant we saw much more of traditional France it became a much longer, more drawn out ride than expected and became a real slog as we approached Cergy - not because the riding was difficult - but we had no idea of how many km/miles we still had to go and though not actually on the major road were riding alongside to the constant sound of traffic ( it was also very difficult to find the side roads - les routes Agricole). My legs were well burnt and gently frying while poor Agnes had a fall( wheels on gravel) and her back was hurting. Cergy is definitely not the place to go. Luckily neither the Premiere Classe(!!)  nor the Formula1 had rooms for which I am grateful ( I know they have merit - budget but...) so here we are in the Hotel Campanile, just as modern but at least with a restaurant, a comfortable room and no problem with housing La Naranja and Mrs Armitage. Thank goodness for that glass of wine. Tomorrow St Denis and  Montreuil.

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