Friday, July 13, 2012

Peronne -Saint Quentin: Departments in France



Ruth:
Today started very well with a breakfast of quiche, coffee and pan au chocolate. I love French bakeries. The sky was overcast for the first hour of riding but after a stop at a cafe and reading for a while I was caught in a torrential storm. Gord said it just passed over him in about 5 minutes, but I must have been riding the same speed as the storm. My shoes filled with so much water I had to stop and pour it out. Boy I am really ready for the tiniest bit of summer.
But enough about the weather.
It turns out France is a series of islands. No really I am serious. The country is divided up into a number of departments and when you are in one trying to get any information on the next one just a few km away it is like asking for a safe route to Mordor. Even the maps are islands with all detail ending at the departmental border. The Via Francigena passes through corners of a number of departments very quickly and we always end up in towns with tourist offices just at the edge of the abyss. In Bapaume, for example, our friend Philip discovered that there is no bus between Baupaume and Peronne because Peronne, only 24 km away, is in a different department. Within three days we have left Nord Pas de Calais to briefly pass through the Somme and now we are in L’Aisne. This means we usually leave a department with an excellent map of the region that we would have preferred to have when we entered the department. So I am going to just offer up a minor suggestion for the tourist offices in France. Why not not share a little information with each other or even swap some maps? You could make a day of it, bring a picnic and enjoy the borderlands. We have enjoyed all of the departments we have visited and we really think they would too.

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