Day 4, 25 5 2013, Courtisols to Verdun

We left Courtisols, which we were told is the longest village in France in somewhat better weather, with a slight headwind, but much more sun.  It was still cold, but much more bearable than yesterday.

The country was gently undulating with large fields of canola and wheat.  The skyline was punctuated by silos, and looks much as I imagine Iowa to look.  It is a landscape altered to allow big machines to work in the fields, something the French have rightly fought against.

The only thing peculiarly French was the TGV line, something they don’t do in Iowa as it is communistic.

The country changed markedly as we rode into the Argonne.  The country was more rolling, and the land use more varied, with orchards, animals as well as field crops.  Altogether much more attractive.  This gave way again to open fields and large-scale farming as we rode further east.

We picked more or less ideal roads with very little traffic, and as usual in france, beautifully planned as they wound round the ridges and along the ridge tops with gentle grades.

We stopped briefly at a war cemetery, there are many in this area, and arrived at a point where we could see the whole of the Meusse valley below us.  It was only a 120m drop into the valley and you might not notice it in a car, but it is quite marked at bicycle scale.

We rapidly organized a cheap hotel at the tourist information centre in Verdun, and I was very pleased with a well-executed and enjoyable day.

I find it interesting that in the 90km we rode today we did not see one food shop and very few other services in the twenty odd villages we rode through.  Some of these villages must have had a few hundred inhabitants, but apparently they go the 15Km or so to the nearest centre to do their shopping.  There was little sign of shops ever being in these villages, so it would be interesting to know how they organized things before they all had cars.  Roz things that perhaps there are shops not visible from the through road, but there are no signs to indicate that this is the case.

We wandered around the town for an hour or so in the evening before going to a cheap and remarkably good restaurant on the river front. It was too cold to eat outside.

The champagne grower we met a few days ago told us that the weather was so unseasonably cold that he was increasingly concerned that the grapes would not set.

Anyway, it is warmer today than it has been.

This is what our bike touring should be like.

Obviously I cannot get the GPS to work properly, but he map is still here.