Bruges – Lille – Saint-Quentin – Ham – Péronne – Amiens – Abbeville
This was not the route I originally planned. My first plan was to head to Paris and follow the Seine River towards Normandy. Instead of the Seine I decided to follow the Somme instead. I skipped Paris, but I got to know Amiens instead, which was a very pleasant surprise.
First day on the bike, first border. I left early in the morning and I arrived early in the afternoon. This gave me the opportunity to get to know the city. Elise, my host on Couchsurfing, took some time for that. First thing I noticed: the French language has changed. A street language, le Verlan, took over. Basically you just reverse the words… or put the letters in an other order. ‘Une femme’ (a woman) becomes ‘une meuf’ for example.
A part from that: other things to remember about Lille are the cathedral and the beers from the region.
Lille has one of the ugliest cathedrals in the world… at least if you stand in front of it.
It was a cloudy day, so the picture doesn’t show the facade in all its glory… but believe me, it is ugly. The middle door however is nice.
The inside of the church is huge, like a typical cathedral. The white facade should create a special light effect trough the sun, and the architect made the mistake to count on the sun in the North of France.
Than there was Beer. Elise, my host, is a beer lover as well. In Lille and it’s surrounding cities, you can find the same beer culture as in Belgium. I was delighted. I tried some local triples, a name to remember is ‘anosteké’, West Flemish for ‘an other time’. Try it if you find it!
Road to Saint-Quentin
Program for the next day: cycling to Saint-Quentin. A little bit more than 100k. I reached my destination, but I did not enjoy the day as much as I expected to. The roads weren’t flat anymore, and my bicycle is actually overloaded. My knees were hurting bad, and my but threatened to call Amnesty International if I would ever treat it the same way as I did that day. 100k is very realistic, but one has to be trained. And I wasn’t. I reached my destination and fell asleep. I decided to take it easier the next days.
Ready, steady, Slow!
Until then I had the intention to go to Paris and follow the Seine towards Normandy. Until I reached the ‘Canal de Saint-Quentin’. A canal that turns into the ‘Canal de la Somme’ later. Easygoing, slow, beautiful… and a kind of shortcut during my trip. I changed directions towards Amiens. Sometimes on my bicycle, sometimes on my kayak. The kayak is super slow and I love it.
By the way, this is a picture I took on the way. Still not sure what it is… a house or a furby?
Anyway, here are some pictures of my trip along the canal:
The Somme (canal and river) is beautiful to follow. However, the path along the banks isn’t always well maintained.
Often the grass was even higher than displayed here, and before the city of Péronne it was not promoted as a ‘cycling lane’. This resulted in flat tyre number one. Here, the regional authorities have missed the opportunity to attract visitors to this beautiful landscape.
After a few days I reached Amiens, a city with a very diverse architecture. There’s a beautiful cathedral and there’s the Somme running trough the city. Unfortunately most of the people only say ‘Paris’ if it comes to destinations in France… a beautiful city like Amiens if often forgotten. It’s a place with a very cozy atmosphere. You should visit it once.
I arrived in Abbeville, a small city with a church that looks like it has been cut in two.
Tomorrow I’m going to kayak the last part of the Somme towards Saint-Valery-Sur-Somme. From there I’m going towards Normandy. My next blog may contain some WWII history. Stay tuned!