|A refreshing glass of Chimay Rouge before we start.|
We've stayed in many different types of accommodation over the last 14 years. Going from the (now closed) Hotel de la Place in Virelles, Mon Reve in Robechies, Auberge du Auberge de Poteaupré near the abbey, a nice gite in Macon, an excellent gite in one of the prettiest villages in Belgium, Lompret and this year a really nice gite in Seloignes run by the very friendly Henri and Nadine. Even better is that they are on the new Ravel route, traffic free right into Chimay or Momignies.
|Cofidis Pro ride Romain Zingle on the yet to be completed Ravel link|
|Path not yet finished|
Its about 250 miles from London to Chimay, this year using DFDS Dover to Dunkirk, 2 hours crossing and handy for the motorway. Route is E40, E42, E19, R5, N546, N40 and N53 into Chimay. Around 3 hours driving and all but 55km on motorways.
We always try to stop at a brewery on the way out (and back) and this year was no exception. Authentique was our stop this year and many thanks to Frédérick Baert for his excellent hospitality and great tasting on the brewery range.
|Frédérick Baert with beer samples. Only €3pp for a tasting|
|The bar at Authentique|
It was just over a hours drive to Chimay and another 15 minutes (via Match supermarket) to our accommodation. many thanks to our wonderful hosts that evening who lent us their gas BBQ and kept us plied with Chimay Doree whilst we spoke about worldly affairs (well Garth did Jason and my French is not good enough, unfortunately). Lovely evening.
Saturday would see us exploring the local area and in previous years we had only stayed 1 night. A hunt for Canal+ to watch the Lions Rugby Union was attempted but Belgium bars and TV's are not that common. So we tried the old Casino where we followed the match via Twitter, something we did for the Tour as well. Lunch (after a good few kms riding) was at le Beauchamp just outside town, lovely restaurant and the rabbit was eaten. Excellent. This restaurant has just celebrated its 10th anniversary and we knew le patron before he opened it. He recognised us and greeted us warmly.
|le Nimrod in Bailleux|
|Garth with a jug of Doree|
|Garth at the source of the Oise.|
|Confluence of Oise & Seine|
Then back to Chimay, via, 4 Seasons cafe. Our good friend François Cornet recommended Aux Armes de Chimay in the main square for dinner and a excellent meal was had with music by a live band on the bandstand. Back along the Ravel route - including the rather dodgy rail bridge that has yet to be renovated - and onto the local cafe, le Zenith in Seloignes. Amazingly they still had bottles of the 150th anniversary beer - limited supply so not something you would expect to have in rural Belgium. Excellent end to a great day.
|Some Oak “foeders.”|
From here its about an hour and a half back to Dunkirk and home. 8 hours driving in total on the last day hence wanting to include a stop - where better than a brewery.
Great time and really looking forwards to going back next year. Huge thanks to François and the Chimay cycle club for the great organisation, as ever. Its a lovely part of the world to go cycling and everyone is so friendly.