From Chartres the Eure valley runs north, it’s river a tributary of the Seine.
It is a gem, and I managed to ride virtually the whole length of it, and even camp beside it at Anet. This looks like second home country for Parisians given how close it is to the capital, and so quiet.
Eventually the bike met it’s last great French river of the trip, downstream from Rouen. Huge ships come past here which always seems an oddity with green fields and grazing cattle on either side.
Normandy thatch is evident again, and in this part it is traditional to plant the ridges with purple Iris, something I had never seen before. Apparently it helps to anchor the thatch; they must be self-sustaining, otherwise watering would be an onerous task!
The road to the coast is quite straight and the legs were going well this morning, tapping out a tempo on the pedals, the bike rolling effortlessly. For a short time I had a team car; a French family pulled alongside as I rode. They were all clapping! When I told them my story, they cheered, and for the briefest of moments I sensed victory: the stage was mine, the yellow jersey secure. I can understand the addiction-it is the sweetest of tastes.
Seemingly from nowhere, it appeared before me. Rounding a bend the English Channel came into view, bathed in sunshine.
To the French it is La Manche, and Monet came here to paint it. I know that because it said so on the sign, but whatever name you give it, there was something very inviting about it today.