Day 5. Villers РSire РNicole to Le Nouvion-en-Thi̩rache

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! Everything is closed here in France and we had no idea – until midday.

So yes – we arrived in France.

le drapeau a été changé aujourd’hui.

The Belgium flag was taken down and changed to the French flag.

The Google translate app has been really helpful. I’m especially enjoying using my mobile camera to translate French to English and I’ve had a couple of brief conversations with the locals.

Today was hot! Too hot for cycling – uncomfortably hot. My arms started to burn – even with factor 50! It sweated off and I struggled to keep on top of it.

Progress was slow – really slow today. We use Komoot for cycle touring and today the directions and the route was – awful. If I had a mountain bike I would have enjoyed it. So the route was off road – cycling on stones the size of golf balls and the vegetation swallowed us up a couple of times.

Today was definitely a day where our progress was dictated by the varying terrain.

Slow.

The route took us on very few comfortable roads. On occasions I had to get off and push. That’s 40kg of baggage and the bike on top. Potholes, loose stone, the bike clips holding the panniers snapped. Fixed with zip ties.

Midday. We got to a small town called Dourlers around. Thinking we will buy some food and enjoy a coffee in the sun. Think again and we had no food apart from some bread. We don’t always carry food because the bags make the cycling difficult – we carry minimally.

Then we heard a bunch of people chatting near a community centre. Something was happening – but we didn’t want to bother them.

Glad to say we got to talking to 2 people who passed by. Valerie and her partner and later we spoke with Marc. Here we ate and talked – as best as we could to each other. Valerie could speak good English.

Very thoughtful, kind and generous people. Even the president of the event said we could eat for free.

With the event being a fundraiser to help build a hospital in Madagascar – I paid,

On we went, more on roads later in the day. We came across a fair and met Raynald and his family . This was an event near Avesnes-sur-Helpe, it was a fair but also an equestrian show. It was very nice to drop into this and a nice break from the roads.

We were back on the road after about 30 mins and on our way . We arrived at Le Nouvion-en-Thiérache and had a beer at a bar with a lovely patron who told us his daughter was working in Amsterdam and appreciated our journey.

On to the camp site and after a tough but satisfying day we will settle down for the night.

Shattered.

Goodnight from my sore legs and us 2. Andy and I.

Ps I hope not to see these tomorrow.

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