Newhaven to Dieppe by ferry.
Dieppe to Neufchâtel en Bray.
Cycling time: 02:16:58
Trip total: 202.2km (including trip into Newhaven for supper last night).
Departed campsite: 08:30
Arrived Neufchâtel: 17:30
10:02 – I had probably the best night’s sleep I’ve had in months last night, despite sleeping in a tent. I was asleep by 22:00, and woke up feeling totally refreshed and ache free at 07:30. 9 1/2 hours of uninterrupted, restful sleep. I had a quick shower, and packed away the tent and gear. I left the campsite at 08:30, and it was just a quick 4km ride to the ferry terminal.
I checked in and went to the front of the bike queue, where I met two other cyclists doing the same trip as me, Andy and Julie from Sydenham. We started chatting and comparing the routes we had taken from London to Newhaven. Like me, they’re new to touring, and this is their first London to Paris trip. They’re staying at B&Bs along the way, and just finding them as and when they need to. They’re allowing much longer for their trip than I am, doing about 50km a day.
Shortly after I’d arrived and started chatting to Andy and Julie, two girls in their 20s turned up – Alice and Megan from London. They’re 23 and 24, and also doing London to Paris, and camping along the way. They could teach me a thing or two about traveling light, and don’t really have a plan.
All of us have sat together at the back of the ferry, and have been chatting amongst ourselves about all sorts of things, and now they’ve gone off exploring while I write this.
It’s been really nice to meet some like-minded people this morning, doing the same trip as me but in slightly different ways. I knew it was likely I’d meet people along the way, but to have done it so soon has been nice. The girls aren’t sure where they’re staying tonight, so I’ve said I’ll show them where I’m going and we can cycle together if they want to.
I’m really looking forward to my first few km in France, and it’ll be an easy 35km to Neufchâtel. The trip is turning out to be everything I had hoped it would be, and more. I can’t wait to see what the next couple of days and 200km or so have in store.
23:26 – When we got off the ferry at Dieppe, Alice, Megan and I had agreed we’d set off on the first leg together and stay at the same place. We left the ferry and cycled into Dieppe centre and had a quick coffee at a tabac. We then made our way out of Dieppe, picking up the Avenue Verte after a few km. This was made much easier by the fact that I had a GPS, and it would have been a lot more difficult and time consuming to navigate our way out.
The Avenue Verte is cycling heaven. It’s flat, the surface is perfectly smooth tarmac, it’s entirely traffic free, and it passes through beautiful countryside. We made really quick progress along the 35km to Neufchâtel en Bray. Megan and Alice are both pretty quick, and we settled at a decent speed we were all happy with, cycling three abreast all the way there, chatting and laughing.
I’m quite envious of how they live – they seem very free, and have come away on this trip without really having a plan. They didn’t even bring a map! I asked what was next after Paris, and they said ‘oh we’ve got a friend in Cannes, so we might go there’. Alice has just quit her job, and Megan has the summer break from university, so they’ve got as long as they need.
We arrived at the campsite at about 17:30, and went straight to the supermarket to get food for supper. After that we set up our tents and cooked, and ate a meal of pasta, chicken, bread, cheese, radishes, and tomatoes. We then sat chatting for ages, and a friendly bloke from Cardiff brought over three portions of pudding for us. We then washed up and had a coffee at the bar, and have just showered and all gone to bed.
They’re going to set off with me in the morning, and we’ll see how the day goes and whether they want to stick to my route and daily distances, or do their own thing. It’s been really fun getting to know them, and great to have some company along the way. They’re doing their trip in such a different way from the way I am, but we seem to get along perfectly regardless.
Another absolutely perfect, unforgettable day, and I’m still feeling fresh and full of energy, and definitely don’t feel I’m pushing myself too hard. Perfect cycling, on a perfect cycle track, and a tailwind all the way! I fear I may have caught the touring bug…
(Sorry, very few photos taken on the phone today, to save the battery. Most were on the SLR, so they’ll have to wait).