Archive for the ‘hovercraft’ Tag

On the Road to France (Gatwick to Paris)   4 comments

It’s the first week of May and something in the air has got me reminiscing. I am thinking back to years ago when I set off to Europe on my first extended cycling tour – four weeks, mainly in France, from Paris, through the Loire Valley, up across Normandy and back to London where we flew in to and home from.

Frank, Chris and Chuck, near Gatwick

When we (me and three buddies from the EBTC)  left Edmonton, the landscape was in transition as is typical for this time of year. The grass had started to green-up but the trees had not yet leafed-out. Our flight took us to Gatwick, south of London and I remember as the plane landed, looking out at the luscious green landscape – lovely! The flight was an overnighter, we arrived in England in the morning and I think it was around mid-day when we had our bikes ready to hit the road and begin our adventure. The first day’s route took us from Gatwick, across the countryside of southeastern England to Dover, where we stayed overnight before catching the hovercraft to Calais in France the next day.

It was such a delight cycling through the quiet, lush English countryside. It was of course a challenge to to ride on the right side of the road (by which of course I mean the left side). Particularly difficult was navigating a roundabout – I remember it requiring considerable concentration not to just follow my instincts. On the first day we would see  castles and churches, countryside and lambs and even the famed white cliffs of Dover. The details of that first day are pretty fuzzy – blame it on jetlag and a number of years (the photos are fuzzy too – we’ll blame that on poor scans of old slides)

Adjusting the Load on an English Country Road

A Lamb Keeping an Eye on Canadian Cyclists

Riding on the Left

Stopping to Visit a Historical Site

English Town

Peaceful Countryside

White Cliffs of Dover

We spent our first night in a hostel in Dover. The next morning we made our way down to the Dover HoverPort for what I recall was a quick but rough ride (vibrations, not waves) across the Channel.


On the other side I set foot in France for the first time – Calais. We explored the historic city a bit that afternoon

Bell Tower at Calais' Hotel de Ville

The next morning we loaded out bikes onto a train headed to Paris. I was so impressed with how easy it was to take bikes on the train

Arrival of SNCF Train in Calais to take us to Paris

We would spend a few days exploring the City of Light before heading out on the road for the real beginning of the cycling adventure. Stay tuned for further posts as I reminisce and retrace  our route.