You have no idea how much I was expecting this extended weekend, especially after being stuck in Doha for a few days. Although I’m trying to escape Paris routine as much as possible, and most of the times on two wheels, I didn’t take that much holidays this year.
After my short stay in Doha for work, I had a rest day on friday, which made this weekend a five days one. Does it still deserve the name of weekend?
My goal for those days was to reach Luxembourg by bike. I had a host in this city for sure, but my stops on the way were only decided last minute, on Thursday evening.
My first stop took place in Reims on friday evening. So my rest day finally turned into a 165km long ride.
I left at 10am and reached a milestone of 7000km in less than 12 months a couple of hours later.
There weren’t many things to take pictures from during that day. I expected Coulommiers to be a much nicer city for instance.
I rode through Montmirail at least:
I finished the ride crossing the Montagne de Reims, probably the nicest part but it was night already. I reached Reims cathedral only around 8:30pm.
My host in Reims happened to be the fulfilled owner of a Fahrrad Manufaktur T-400, i.e. the exact same bike I own myself. So we could only get along very well! The day after he guided me through his region to Charleville-Mézières.
The start consisted in crossing the boring flatlands of Champagne (yes not all Champagne area consists in hilly vineyards), but after the village of Asfeld it became much more interesting.
We crossed Sydney very quickly on the way.
Asfeld has a very nice and oddly-shaped church.
Which makes a nice background for a Fahrrad Manufaktur advertising.
Then we stopped for lunch in Château-Porcien.
It went steeper and steeper in the afternoon and we had the brilliant idea to buy some beers for our host in Charleville 20km before arrival, just before the steepest hill.
We finally reached Charleville after a 100km ride. The city center is really nice with its golden stones (under sunshine) and its Place Ducale which is closely related to the Place des Vosges in Paris. The architects of both squares happened to be brothers…
Charleville is also famous for its marionettes. Our host there is a student in a school for this form of art.
Every hour, in front of the « Institut International de la Marionette », a small play takes place.
The bikes were fascinated…
The day after, I rode alone East on my last day towards Luxembourg.
I passed Sedan and its huge medieval fortress.
Then I rode up in the Ardennes to the Belgian Border and the Semois valley.
The weather became really wet and cloudy, but it still didn’t rain. I crossed Belgium mostly on national roads, but there were bike lanes most of the time, although they were not well maintained. I reached the city of Arlon, the highest point of my trip (420m), before entering Luxembourg.
Once in Luxembourg I managed to follow some bike trails for a few kilometers and avoid the national road. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long because of a closed road. But I found Luxembourg’s drivers more careful than Belgian’s.
Here is a quick map of the trip:
And the detailed tracks (drawn, not captured with a GPS) for each of the 3 days:
- Friday: Paris – Reims ~165km
- Saturday: Reims – Charleville-Mézières ~100km
- Sunday: Charleville-Mézières – Luxembourg ~130km
I had a very nice host in Luxembourg who unfortunately had to work on both Monday and Tuesday although the 1st of November is a holiday in this country too. So I visited the city on my own.
Luxembourg is a very picturesque small fortified town. A bit overrated maybe, due to its position of capital city.
The pedestrian center extends only 2 to 3 blocks around the Place d’Arme.
The Grand-Ducal Palace is a rather discreet building.
I found Luxembourg far more interesting for its location overlooking the Alzette and Pétrusse valleys than for its architecture.
Some bridges and viaducts connect different neighborhoods and are allowing to cross the steep valleys without going down and up again.
The valleys are mostly urban gardens, bringing nature in the heart of the city.
Cliffs are an important part of the city defense system.
The « Corniche » (like in Doha) offers the best view on the Alzette valley.
The Grand-Duchesse Charlotte bridge connects the city center with the European district, the modern part with the only few high-rise buildings.
The European Investment Bank
And some cultural institutions like the Philarmonie
And the museum of modern art, located in an ancient fortress part of the city’s defense.
Without entering museums, it took me the whole day to tour the city.
I came back to Paris with the TGV, 3 days to go, only 2h10min to come back. And the customs asked me in the train if I had a sponsor to do that! Maybe I should start thinking about it.