The Road to Nice – Day 1 June 3rd 2015 – Brighton to Senlis

Day 1 : June 3rd 2015 : Brighton to Senlis

There are a lot of things I’ve done that I swore I’d never do again. One of those is eating andouillettes. If you’ve never had this “delicacy” then you must try it sometime. It’s unlikely you’ll ever do it again unless you’re French maybe. I once ate in what was supposed to be one of the best restaurants in Lyon for andouillette and I said never again and I never did.

Crawling out of bed at 5:30 to catch an 8:30 ferry from Dover was also one of those “won’t do it again” moments. I seem to say it every year and never manage to stick to it. My wife says I lack discipline, perhaps she’s right.

I think it’s important to choose resolutions you have some sort of chance of keeping don’t you?

Weather forecasting is an art so I’m told. It’s a load of Pollocks I’m thinking as water begins to find its way down my neck. Getting wet on the way to Dover was not in the script or the forecast.

Reaching the ferry and I’m waved straight on. It’s one of the most stressful times for me. Not only do I worry about dropping the bike on a slippery deck in front of a bunch of big tough bikers but I can never work out how to use those tie-down ratchets. One day I’ll learn how they work but I normally have to ask a matelot or a fellow motard for help.  If that’s not embarrassing enough I then have to also get them to help me to release it once we reach the other side.

I’m off the boat first and I’m shocked at the number of asylum seekers on the main road from the port. Last year there were a few but it looks like it’s getting out of hand and I don’t see any easy answer.

I end up on the D901 more by accident than design. I wasn’t paying attention to the Garmin Zumo (this would be a recurring issue). This meant I never took the road near the coast that Eric talked about (missing his roads would also become a recurring issue).

Nonetheless it made a pleasant change from the normal high speed escape from Calais even if I couldn’t relate it to Eric’s experience and make the comparisons I was hoping for. Sorry Eric.

Several very enjoyable hours later on roads we mostly ignore as we scoot south I arrived at Senlis. Not a bad start to the trip. I took a number of unintended diversions it’s true but good roads, the lack of traffic and perfect riding weather was a great way to begin.

The trip almost ended at Senlis as I missed yet another turning and ended up on a tiny street with the sort of pave encountered on one of the Belgium classic cycle races. I discovered it was not the natural habitat for nearly 500 kilos of cruiser, rider and luggage. The Thunderbird may handle better than any bike that size should but there are limits. A good job it wasn’t raining ……………..

The Hostellerie de la Porte de Bellon was expensive but very welcoming and even let me in my room despite arriving an hour earlier than I had said.

Eric described Senlis as a compact town and the old town still is. A maze of cobbled streets now given over very much to the tourist trade. Being the seat of French royalty in the past the town oozes history. Unfortunately the history I was looking forward to seeing was closed. The cathedral was encased in scaffolding and if there was a way in I couldn’t find it. A fine looking building though.

A wander round the streets and a beer or two and I was ready for dinner. A bit nouvelle cuisine in presentation but decent enough food even if I didn’t understand the block of vegetables.

A long day tomorrow so I made a few notes for this write-up and had an early night.

A couple of photos of old Senlis
DSC00053 DSC00056


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