2009/11/16: Essey, just east of Nancy 90 km
Albert left early to act as a beater for a farmer friend who hunts. Hunting season is in full swing, and we’d passed several hunts in progress, with warning signs placed along the road and hunters in fluorescent garb. We’ve been hearing gunshots as we ride near wooded areas, and I’ve been happy to be wearing my bright yellow cycling jacket to reduce the chance of being mistaken for a sanglier.
Anny served us bowls of coffee, and provided us with rabbit pate sandwiches for a casse-croûte. We dressed to battle the elements. It wasn’t a pleasant day for navigating by scenic small roads, so we bent our heads down and pedalled into the wind and the wet on a more direct and major road than we usually take. We were entering the eastern suburbs of Nancy in the dark when we saw a sign for “Hotel Campanile.” This is a French hotel chain familiar to us because there was one near our house when we lived in Ferney-Voltaire, and Chris often stayed there when he commuted from Vancouver to CERN. We booked in, and were allowed to bring our bikes into the room where they were useful as drying racks for wet clothes.
2009/11/17: Day off in Nancy
We ate a huge breakfast and then dozed. Later, we took the bus and tram downtown to buy more Michelin maps, and to see buildings and squares that are the legacy of Stanislas the Builder, King of Poland and Duke of Lorraine.
During our days off, and when we have internet, we often follow up on historical, geographic, or cultural things that we’ve noticed. Upon entering Lorraine, I’d seen place names laced with the letter x and whose phonemes didn’t (to my observant eye and ear) fit with French. Some googling on the topic of ancient languages of the region led me to conclude that the place names were remnants of ancient Gaulish, the language of Asterix and Obelix. I even found a unique YouTube video published by someone who has taught himself to speak Gaulish. What a delight to know that a quintessential language geek is using the web to share his wonderfully obscure knowledge!!
2009/11/18: Toul 47 km (Lost passport)
As we rolled our loaded bikes out of the room, I realized I had a front flat, so our departure was delayed as we fixed it. We pedalled to just east of Toul, and when we stopped for coffee Chris realized he couldn’t find his brown leather wallet which contained his (Canadian) passport, two credit cards, two bank cards, and some cash. A methodical search of all pockets and panniers ensued, confirming that the wallet was indeed no longer with us. We called the Hotel Campanile, who said they’d check the room. We pedalled on to Toul, preparing to leave bikes at a hotel and bus back to Nancy should Campanile locate Chris’s wallet. It’s lucky we have a functioning cell phone again, or is it Murphy’s law that because we have one it has become essential? As we ate our quiche Lorraine, the Campanile called to say there was no sign of Chris’s wallet in the room, so we resigned ourselves to the theory that it must have fallen out of the pocket at the back of his shirt, into which he had awkwardly shoved it under another clothing layer.
We spent the afternoon in Toul, first at the Office de Tourisme for town maps and advice, then the police station, then the Sous-Prefecture where the dimwitted and unhelpful policeman sent us, then back to the Police after the lady at the Sous-Prefecture called them to give them a piece of her mind about their uselessness. Finally, we had an officially stamped piece of paper in hand to document the loss of the passport, but it was getting dark and all hotels in town were full due to convention in Nancy. A little more help from the nice Dutch lady at the Office de Tourisme and we found our way to a truck stop hotel on the highway. From there, we cancelled all Chris’s bank and credit cards.
Our policy of distributing valuables (passports, bank cards, cash) to different locations was obviously being less carefully followed as the trip draws to a close.
2009/11/19: Ligny-sur-Barrois 57 km
After looking at the cathedral and adjusting brakes in Toul, we started late. We cooked lunch on a gravel road beside the highway, and were in Ligny-sur-Barrois at 3:30, with quite a stretch remaining to the next major town. We went to the hotel we’d booked and later cancelled the previous day, having planned to get here then. I slept for several hours before we got up to go and eat. I’m tired. I’m ready for home. Paris: Here we come!