Monday, June 9, 2014

Day 2- Wissant to Wisques- 80km

The day started out on a high with one of my all time favourite "French cliches" coming to life. Ben was in at the hotel reception while I waited out on the main street of Wissant. I was people watching and saw a young boy holding two very large baguettes and trying to get on his bike and ride it one handed whilst holding the baguettes in his other. He tried and failed about three times and then dropped the baguettes on the ground, snapping them in half. He looked so despondant and didn't know what to do. I motioned for him to come over to me and then pointed at the rack on the back of my bike and then to the baguettes and the rack on the back of his bike. He seemed to understand so I held his bike for him while he strapped the baguettes onto the rack and then went off on his way with a "Merci!". No French from me, no English from him but I did my good deed for the day and finally the baguette bike came to life!

Leaving Wissant a little later than usual (9:30 as we stayed for hotel breakfast) we headed out on well marked trails under the sun. We followed the Via Francigena signs instead of our book as the route was so well signed all the way to Guines. The route was mostly dirt, and at times incredibly steep! But it took us past some old war bunkers and through some beautiful pastoral area with spectacular views (After we climbed up the mega hills).

The start of our day




From Guines the trail markers suddenly stopped and we were forced to return to the book and Bens GPS route. This took us through some amazing country backroads with zero cars, a spectacular climb and past some very cute French children yelling Allez Allez at us as we went past. The kids in france are far from shy and are very intrigued by our bikes loaded up. I get constant smiles, bonjours, and the occasional poke, yes one poked me! I only wish I knew more French so I could reply to them when they speak to me.


We stopped for lunch in Liques after buying a wheel of Camembert for 2 euros!!!! If only cheese was as cheap in Australia!



It was not long after Liques that our fortunes changed for the day. We became incredibly lost after Tourneham sur la hem and ended up doing a 10km loop through some of the rockiest, steepest fire roads we could find. Damnit. It's not a nice feeling when you realise you are back at somewhere you have already been...

We eventually found the route again and then came the grass. Riding on grass with a 30kg bike is tough work. Now try doing that in a storm. And getting lost again. We had noticed the sky starting to turn grey, then heard the thunder, then it started pissing down. Our original plan had been to get to Therouanne today but due to the extra km from getting lost and the storm we decided to call it quits at Wisques. 80 tough km all up, a big day on some very slow but rewarding trails.

Grass fields with a ruined Chapelle in the background
All smiles in the sun!
Yes this is a track!

Wisques is a VERY small town. It does not have a main street. There are two accommodation options, a monastery and a nunnery and both ask that you call in advance and book. So with no pre warning we rocked up at Abbaye Notre Damme wet, muddy, tired and very hungry. The beautiful nuns took us in and made accommodations to add us for dinner. They were so lovely and put up with my terrible attempts at French and helped with the English that they knew. We had a three course meal with red wine included and have a room in their guest quarters. I am now sitting in the garden listening to the church bells chime and thanking my lucky stars. The nuns assure me it was fate :) looking forward to tomorrow and the adventures it brings!


Abbaye Notre Damme


The guest quarters where we are staying

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