Maintenon to Fleury, France

A very old French farm

The Cathedral at Louvielle
Great Flying Buttresses

Today I rode north, as much a the roads permitted, from Maintenon. I rode almost to Rouen, then rode east to get away form the congestion and to avoid riding into that big city, I rode 82 miles with 1700 feet of climbing in six hours and 40 minutes. Although riding conditions started out as less than ideal - I was back to being chilly under low gray clouds - most of the riding was very nice indeed. Well over half of my riding was on small roads that followed rivers by very small towns in a rich agricultural region.

Leaving the town where I had a great lunch
I think this is the first watch out for sheep on the road sign I've seen!

A typical town on D 71 today
These towns were all on one side of the road, i.e. the road ran past them

The towns were so small that a major concern today was finding a restaurant before 1 PM. After what seemed like dozens of tiny towns, D 71 - a great bicycling road that goes to Louvielle, a big town south of Rouen - finally crossed under an expresway and the town there, St Aquilin de Pacy, has three restaurants. The major customers for my kind of restaurant are workers and truck drivers, so you need a big town or a fairly busy road. D 71, there, was not busy at all, but the expressway was very busy and the restaurant, at 1 PM was more than half full. The 11 E menu, with four courses, cider (or wine), and cafe, was excellent and everyone was very friendly, even to this strange, non French speaking person.

Riding on the plateau, it was still quite cloudy

Entering Ile-de-France, the region of Paris

And the plateau is not very flat ;-}


I left Maintenon at 8:15 AM, heading north to Nogent-le-Roi. The ride was delightful, if a bit chilly. When I got Nogent-le-Roi, the road through town was closed. I started out on the detour but, when the detour started climbing out of the valley, I turned back and rode throug the route barre section with no problem. Leaving Nogent-le_Roi, I had some climbing to do because I headed for Houdan. The road climbed up, in a switchback, to a plateau several hundred feet above the river. The road entered Ile de France on the way to Houdan.

Then, after stopping for a snack break from my supplies, I continued toward Anet. This section was hilly and, because the road was turning east, headwinds were sometimes a problem. Finally, the road dropped down into a big valley a few km before Anet, and I was able to turn north, away from the headwind, and ride in the valley for most of the day. I didn't realize until I was writing this report that this was the valley of the Eure, the valley that Maintenon and Nogent-le-Roi and Louvielle are in. Hmm, I could have ridden in that valley all day if I had wanted to ride through Dreux. I must pay more attention to rivers in France! Note: I choose to take the low traffic roads today and I'm not sure I'd change that just to stay in that river valley all day.

Riding on D 16 in the rural valley

The Eure River

Once I got back into the Eure valley on D 16 and later on D 71, riding was much easier. By then, the valley was very rural and there was very little traffic on D 71. Sometime after lunch, D 71 crossed D 316 and I was finally sure where I was on my map ;-}. At that point, I realized that, if I continued down this valley, I was going to end up too near Rouen. I tried to use D 316 to get out of the valley, but, instead, ended up going down the valley on D 836. That meant, when I got to Louvielle, I had to do some compass navigating - I just kept riding north - quite a way, till I ran into the autoroute, then I rode east alongt he autoroute until I came to D 71 which is the only road that goes under the autoroute heading north. I got that info from a map in a park near the old town and from bus route maps along the way. Like most things, getting out of Louvielle was a lot easier that it appeared at first.

The problem with this valley is that the Eure and the Seine come togther between Louvielle and Rouen. There is a mess of waterways there and, for a bicyclist, only one way to get through them, go north on D 71, now reborn as a busy expressway that climbs a big hill just north of Louvielle and then come downs an equally big hill into Pont-du-Arch. I saw a bicyle tourist who did not have low enough gears struggling up the hill going south as I zoomed down it at 35 to 40 mph in fairly heavy traffic.In Pont-du-Arch,there is a bridge, with a bike lane, that goes over the Seine. On the other side of that bridge, D 321, which is rideable, goes east. That was the route I choose based on the maps I saw in Louvielle. There is only one other option after you cross the bridge, the expressway into Rouen. I think that section of expressway is autoroute, but with a bike lane, and, at 5 PM, it didn't look like a fun ride!

I'm in an inexpensive - this is 50 E with breakfast here - hotel in Fleury and, looking at my map, I think I'll continue north tomorrow. I should reach the atlantic near Calais the day after tomorrow and then I'll head east across Belgium. I should have enough time to ride all the way to Hamburg, but, if not, I can get a weekend ticket and take the train for the last part.

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