Bike Trip Paris to Metz – Sept 26 to Oct 1, 2009

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I am biking from Paris to Metz for the General Navereau school reunion. The route is described here and I will add notes as the ride progesses as long as I can get an internet connection at my hotel.

The Interactive Map of the route on Map My Ride gives the overview and you can zoom in for details including a pretty good route out of Paris if you’re heading east. The route was laid out with a view to travelling on small scenic roads and mangeable distances of 60 to 70 km most days each night ending in a town with a hotel. The last day is deliberately short as we want to arrive in Metz before noon. In planning the route I found the Via Michelin website most useful as it has a tool for determining bicycle routes in addition to various auto options.

Route Details

DateFromTokms
Saturday Sept 26ParisCoulommiers56
Sunday Sept 27CoulommiersMontmort-Lucy60
Monday Sept 28Montmort-LucyChalons45
Tuesday Sept 29ChalonsBar le Duc68
Wed. Sept 30Bar le DucPont a Mousson73
Thursday Oct 1Pont a MoussonMetz28

Photos

This is a gallery with some photos I took along the way.

Pre-Ride Sept 25

Ready to go now; bike all tuned up and saddle bags packed with not much stuff. The trick to packing light is to “camp” in hotels.

Unfortunately, Marilyn won’t be doing the ride as she had to stay with a very sick friend in Halifax. She hopes to fly over and get to Metz at lot quicker — just over an hour on the TGV. I’m hoping for a slightly lower speed — 20 to 25 km/hr.

Sept 26th Le Départ!

Coulommiers:

Got off at midmorning and am where I was supposed to get. The exit route from Paris was perfect as I was beyond the dreaded Peripherique in about 15 minutes.

As you can see from the photo of my bike in the gallery all loaded up, it’s not too heavy; and I even managed to get my Net Book in for these updates.P9260394

Michelin gets about 7 out of 10 for the route. They got me through the sprawl around Paris on pretty reasonable roads. If you haven’t been here, it’s quite incredible; I went about 35 km before I saw the first farmers’ fields. There we some nice Chateaus, parks and woods before that though I did make a few wrong turns (not hard to do with all the roads out there) so that I ended up doing 70 km today instead of the planned 56. The route picked by the Michelin website lost its marks for the last 16 km which was quite straight (although with one long hill) and with some fast traffic in spots.

Coulommiers is fine and with some pleasant spots along the canal.

I am staying at the Hotel de L’Ours (Hotel of the Bear). It’s a typical small town hotel and does have a stuffed bear in the lobby (from the US I think). It’s functional and inexpensive and appears to have a good dining room. I will eat there tonight. This will be my first meal this trip that I didn’t make myself. So I guess I’ll give them the money instead of Brenda and Daphne. Today, the cycling was slow with lots of traffic and innumerable stop lights and stops to navigate. Tomorrow will be a lot faster as it should all be in the countryside.

Sept 27th — Entering Champagne

Montmort-Lucy: As predicted yesterday, the ride was easier today with little traffic or navigation to deal with. The photo shows one of the roads – a 10 km stretch where I saw one car.P9270404

I am passing through Champagne and it is very agricultural but no grapes to be seen. That’s just a bit further north – this village is about 20 km south of Epernay. The Michelin route planner gets 10 out of 10 today; the route couldn’t be better. I’ll even give it back a points from yesterday. It would be hard to get to Coulommiers (The destination I chose because it has a hotel) without taking the road I objected to. As was the case yesterday, the weather continues to be perfect – not a cloud to be see with afternoon temperatures in the low 20s. From time to time there is a bit of a headwind but the forecast says even that will change.

Montmort-Lucy is a pretty village overlooking a valley. It has a rather spectacular fortified chateau which, according to the plaque, was also the site of a major battle in WW II. I’ll look this up at some point. The village is quite small but has two hotels and this one has a huge dining room – at leat 200 spaces. The other hote is fancier. I asked the waitress about it and she said they get lots of people from all over for the Champagne.

Sept 28th − Halfway There!

Chalons-en-Champagne: As planned this was short ride (just 45 km) so it was done quite a bit before lunch. The first 25 km were good scenery – through a combination of woods and farmland for about 12 km and then you come out on a ridge overlooking the town of Vertus; winding sown the hill you pass through a slope completely covered with grape vines. This is indeed a wine town – just one Champagne maker after another. Then the road is pretty flat and joins the road into Chalons-en-Champagne. This road ran straight for 18 km and was pretty dull.

Chalons is a reasonable sized city with lots of interesting architecture, the Marne River and canals. I put a few photos in the gallery. It seems pretty touristy the Champagne again) with lots of high end shops. It’s even a little hard to find the basics like wine and cheese.

Sept 29 — In Lorraine on my Birthday

Bar-le-Duc: Champagne is history and I am in Lorraine now. This is an interesting town and pretty historic (dating back to Roman times). Unlike Chalons, it’sa real town. Towns like this and Pont â Mousson (tomorrow’s destination) were just names on road signs when our parents were in Metz in the 50s. Normally, when traveling, we were off to places like the Loire, Germany, Italy and so on and didn’t explore the region. I didn’t get a chance to explore too much as most of the interesting things are up the hill and my legs told me they didn’t feel like walking that far today. I did take a few photos which are in the gallery.

Today’s ride was pretty good. The weather was mostly cloudy but mild with no wind. I was a little disappointed with my speed. The country was gently rolling but, when I looked at the profile, I had climbed almost 1200 feet. I had thought that tomorrows ride would be the hardest at 73 km but other than one not very long climb, it’s mostly downhill or flat; so it should be easy. Again today, except when leaving Chalons and entering Bar-le-Duc, the roads were very small (often going 10 minutes or more without seeing a vehicle). In Canada, such small road, where they exist at all would be very rough or even gravel, Here they are well paved and smooth. It’s a nice hotel here and inexpensive.

I will eat my birthday dinner here (69 if you’re counting).

Sept 30 — Almost there!

Pont à Mousson: Rode about 75 km today and am staying at this town just a 28 km ride away from Metz. That should take me an hour and a half or so — so, I’ll be there in the morning well in advance of the reunion. Will write more later. The route was different from what I expected with more climbing. I got mislead by looking at the profile for the whole route . In actual fact the ride started with a climb and then ended with a climb before a long 6 km descent into Pont a Mousson. The profile below tells the story (Elevation in metres).


Profile Bar le Duc to Pont a Mousson

I was starting to wonder if my legs had deserted me at the start as I expected (based on the Map My Ride profile for the whole distance) grades of mostly 1% with 2% in spots. As you can see it is more than that and the initial hill is quite long. An extra 15 pounds or so on the back certainly steepens the hill as well.

As I descended into the town, what looked like a kids cycling club was strewn all across the ascent. They seemed to age from about 6 to young teenagers. It was quite something to see a six year old on a tiny road bike. I didn’t even know they existed.

Pont à Mousson is quite nice with the Moselle River flowing right through the centre and (surprise) a bridge across it right from the main square. The main square is quite impressive — almost Italian with a huge expanse and galleried shops with shops and restaurants around it. I will see what I can doo with the photos as many views were cluttered with traffic.

Oct 1 – L’Arrivée!

Arrived in Metz at 11 this morning. It was an easy fast ride along the Moselle through nice scenery. Metz is a great city with lots of history but is often missed by tourists.

After four days at the reunion, I returned to Paris in 1 hour 15 (on the TGV). Taking your bike on the TGV is interesting. You need to reserve and there is room for probably two bikes.

9 thoughts on “Bike Trip Paris to Metz – Sept 26 to Oct 1, 2009”

  1. Hi Doug:

    Your route looks great. I suspect that I will be returning to France for future cycling and will keep both this itinerary and the Michelin website in mind.

    Have a great ride!

  2. All sounds so interesting Doug, enjoy your well deserved meal, hope it’s good. Well done your first day went as planned, pretty darned good for an old fella…..

  3. Good to have more news of your trip Doug – you sound as if you are enjoying it, glad to hear the weather is being kind to you (miserable here). Take care.

  4. joyeux aaaaniversaire,
    joyeux aaaaniversaire,
    joyeux aAAAaaaniveersaire Doug,

    joyeux a-ni-veeersaiiiire!!!

    bon on est un peu en retard, mais le coeur y est (ainsi que le choeur) .

    seeya

    Céline & Antonin

  5. hi dad.
    glad you had a good bike ride 🙂 enjoy your reunion and have fun. hope you had a good birthday supper, sorry it had to be by yourself but will have you over when you get home for a birthday supper:) lisaxoxo

  6. Joan Murray-Myles

    I enjoyed the day-to day entries about your trip to Metz. What a journey!

    You did a wonderful job organizing the reunion. It was an experience of a lifetime. I now know so much more about Metz than I ever did when I lived there.
    Your efforts are very much appreciated.
    We are sorry that Marilyn could not attend. Hugs for her.

  7. Wallace Clements

    Hi Doug:

    Just found your trip description while browsing the Internet. I never heard about the General Navereau Reunion. Who else showed up?

    Still remember my catching hand stinging with every one of your fastballs LOL.

    I am still working (not because I have to but because I love it), involved in laser research and fiber optic telecom.

    Great hearing about your trip.

    Best regards,
    Wally

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