One thing is for sure, I’m not picking an overnight stop which ends in “mont” again…

Chalons en Champagne was a peculiar town at night, as I sat outside a bistro sipping a beverage or two it seemed to be that the town square was the venue for what I can only describe as cruising. Young and “still want to be young” guys cruising around in suped-up cars trying to attract the attention of young ladies. As far as I understand it, the technique is to wear sunglasses at night, turn up your stereo with some Turkish drum and bass and ensure that your car has a baked beans tin for an exhaust…hmmmm.

Anyway, after two drinks I was feeling a little tipsy so headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.

In the morning I went down to the best breakfast of the trip so far;

I plunged in with gusto and probably ate far too much, but it was good.

The Google cycling map elevation profile told me that the days cycling was to be all uphill. It didn’t look too steep, but I didn’t really know what to expect.

The day began with a little ride along side the canal.


I didn’t believe entirely that this was going to last too long so I made the most of a rare opportunity to get up onto the big cog and chuffed along quite nicely for a few miles through some lovely valleys;


Past a man backpacking with his donkey…(pretty standard for France right?)


And by lunchtime I’d managed to put away 39 miles and found myself in Saint Diziers eating pizza in the town square, feeling quite chuffed with the day thus far;

So after stuffing my face with artichoke heart, ham, mushroom and caper pizza i headed for the boulangerie. Loading four pain au raisin into my panniers as a snack for later. Fully prepared, I hit the road again and it was back onto the Canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne. This is essentially a canal which connects the Marne and the SaĆ“ne rivers and is particularly handy for anyone taking my route to the south of France on a bike….

My original plan was to stay rural and head for a campsite near a tiny village called Froncles, but I was making such good progress that I decided to push on and head for Chaumont.


When you are riding through countryside like this, the fact that you are going uphill into a headwind seems irrelevant;

There was only one thing which slowed me down all afternoon;


Reaching a point about 3 miles from Chaumont it suddenly occurred to me to think about the town’s name. Mont. Oh right. Well it is a “mont” and coming after 90 odd miles of pedalling flat it was particularly unwelcome!

The views from the top though are great;


And it looks to be an interesting and historic town;


This morning as I write, I am recovering from perhaps one glass too many last night, and contemplating the prospect of taking it easier today.

There are a few areas of concern which need attending to – I need to find a better battery power management solution for gadgetry, some more plasters, nail scissors and a French sim card so that I can phone EE and moan at them about not being able to make calls while roaming. Weirdly I have data roaming working perfectly….so this morning I’m going to wander round a bit of Chaumont and then get on the bike and head for a campsite near Villegusien-le-Lac – which sounds like it ought to be nice, right??

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