We are just outside Paris, in the first week of a six-week cycling trip, mostly in France.
We arrived in the Netherlands on July 15, spent a day in Amsterdam, then a few days in Deventer with family. We celebrated the 60th birthday of Inge’s bother Melle with a family dinner and we met Isadora, Inge’s two-week old great niece.
Now we’re on the road, cycling to Paris and beyond. We set out a week ago, taking the train to Maastricht in the southeast corner of the Netherlands, then riding the short 30 km to Liège Belgium. The next day we picked up the Eurovelo 3 route, following rivers and canals west across the southern part of Belgium and into France.
It wasn’t quite the ride we imagined. The weather was mixed, ranging from wonderful sun to a torrential thunderstorm and days of drizzle. And the south of Belgium, once busy with coal mining and steel making, is now home to wastelands of abandoned industry with high unemployment and poverty. Bike touring, like walking, gives you an insight into how things are; you don’t get off the bus or the autoroute in only the pretty spots; you see it all.
From Paris we’ll take the train to the Atlantic coast, then ride east on the French part of the Eurovelo 6 route across France, then north to the Netherlands.
We are riding new Dutch touring bikes. The Dutch make probably the best touring bikes in the world. After thinking about it for two years, we rented Santos bikes for a five day tour when we were in the Netherlands in April and we decided to order them. We picked them up July 15 and they are a joy.