The Route

The goal is to travel from Dunkerque to Perpignan by bicycle. I will be couchsurfing the whole way; for more information on the couchsurfing project, visit the couchsurfing website, or view my couchsurfing profile.

May 30

whew, i am typing on a french keyboard getting set up on my first blog - it is more difficult than biking through France!
I am two days into this adventure and it is brilliant! We are biking through small French villages where locals carrying baguettes shout out to us, "Bonjour Madame, bon voyage!" We are cycling through fields of wheat and lettucce scattered with poppies - oooh la la!
Today we stopped in Reims to tour the Champagne region and taste the bubbly! We visited the caves where Pommery Champagne is made, and wound up experiencing six varieties of champagne - oh my!
We are staying with Axel, a solar panel researcher who is incredibly hospitalable, energetic and interesting. He drove us to the vineyards today, and poured us two very delicious types of european beer yesterday.
Tomorrow we will spend the day at a vineyard with a farmer Liz met through a friend!
Bon soir!

29 mai

Adriane and I biked from Saint Quentin to Laon. Michel and Mado were our gracious hosts for the night. They have traveled all over the world, meeting hosts and houseswappers through couchsurfing and hospitality club. They cooked us a five course meal, which included fresh vegetables and strawberries from their garden, and some amazing cheese. Over dinner they told us stories from their travels.

Dinner with Michel and Mado.

25 mai

Armentières to Arras today. There are little farm stands along the way selling the most delicious fresh yogurt (putting all other yogurt to shame). My hosts for the night are Emmanuelle and Vincent, a gracious couple in a cute yellow and blue flat. They had a barbeque in their backyard garden with all of their interesting friends and neighbors. We drank delicious Belgian beer and played - of all games - Twister.

Click here for more pictures.

24 mai

Today I biked from Dunkerque to Armentières. The north of France is beautiful. Much of my route was on one lane roads with very few cars, through the countryside and small towns. The towns have old buildings, little bakeries, stone streets, and outdoor cafés serving Belgian beer. Everyone I met has been very nice, even though I cannot speak French all that well.

22 mai

Alex and I arrive in Paris together. It is much smaller and less crowded than I had imagined. My first couchsurfing host is Frédéric. He is a CS ambassador and has hosted over 150 people. When Alex and I arrive at his apartment there is a reporter from Le Monde waiting for us. She is working on a piece about the couchsurfing project. A photographer takes several pictures of us with Frédéric and his couch. People often ask about the safety of couchsurfing, but Frédéric tells me there have been only a few minor incidents since it began in 2004. The biggest incident that has been recorded thus far involved an American CSer who repeatedly borrowed money from his hosts and disappeared without returning it.

Surprisingly trusting, Frédéric goes to his girlfriend's for the night and leaves me with spare keys to the apartment.

Picture: Frédéric on a Free Hugs campaign.

Picture: My first couch.