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DAY 41: from Sézanne to Warmeriville, 105 km

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

It is a cozy apartment but on the 3rd floor. So I had to remove both batteries from the Riese Muller and I haven't done that in two years. With the help of Floky (from a distance with Whatsapp) I manage to do it quickly. I immediately charge both batteries and put them back on the bike late at night so as not to have any unexpected problems in the morning. But everything seems and is ultimately OK. So around 7 o'clock I'm out the door and I cycle around Sézanne for a while because I like quiet city centers that wake up gradually.

The (wrong) way to Linthes and the landscape around Sézanne

Magda had urged me the night before to stop working with Viamichelin and work exclusively with Google maps. No sooner said than done and I take the best route from these Google maps to Warmeriville, located a bit above Reims. I don't want to go through Reims and through the Montagne de Reims with all all its Champagne vineyards because it is too busy there and especially on the Montagne de Reims there are too many people. Besides, I've seen enough of those vineyards. Moreover, I never do tastings of wine while cycling. So I continue cycling around Bergères-lés-Vertus and then towards Condé sur Marne and other villages along the Marne or the Canal latéral de la Marne where the road is relatively flat. The French built a lot of canaux lateréraux along rivers that were unnavigable and that is a great idea. Now that they can no longer be used as a channel for goods transport, they are beautiful tourist routes. The Marne throws itself into the Seine near Paris.

The church of Bergères-lés-vertus in the Champagne region

Soon I find myself in the middle of nowhere thanks to Google maps. In the village of Linthes the navigation wants to send me on a cobbled road with thick stones and I refuse because of my tires. I call Magda and she claims I'm wrong and in fact should have taken the D39. In desperation I take that horrible chalk road and tried to navigate between the pieces of limestone and after 6 km I arrive at the D 44 which crosses the D 39 some 600 meters further on. So I probably missed a turn and took a detour. Immediately afterwards my phone cuts out and I have no telephone contact with Magda for the entire day. The help of some French people along the way brings me safely on the route along the Marne valley. I also can't take pictures anymore because my phone doesn't react and I can't turn it off to restart everything. The rest of the blog of this day is without pictures but worth reading because I meet helpful and lovely people.

The church of Linthes

First I meet another cyclist in Condé-sur-Marne, which I can't show because I couldn't take any pictures either. One Laurent Grignon, a very sweet man from around Chateau-Thierry. A physiotherapist, but who also worked with acupuncture to help people, also people who are grieving. We have a nice conversation. I can use his phone to notify Magda and he gives me some good advice on how best to cycle. There is a bakery nearby and I can buy a baguette just before it closes; I always have snacks and toppings with me. I say a grateful goodbye to Laurent and, as if by miracle, I can ride several kilometers along the Canal latéral de la Marne. It is fresh despite the fact that the temperature will rise to more than 30 degrees during the day. I decide to have lunch along the canal near a large canal boat (called the Celeritas or speed) which is moored at a lock and nearby is a car with a Dutch license plate. Probably Dutch neighbors who are on vacation with such a large boat.

While I'm having lunch two people walk by and say "bonjour" with a clear Dutch accent and I reply "goede namiddag" to which they turn around and start a chat. She is Annemiek Gijlstra from Sneeck, the owner of that big boat, but she has a technical defect that means she has to have a piece overhauled in NL before she can leave here. He is KataRinus Gerbrandi and he is visiting her. He sees Rinus' pancarte and tells that his only son died at the age of 5 in 2011 as a result of severe epilepsy. They did everything to save him but to no avail. He shows me the photo of his deceased son Steyn, a beautiful sweet child like our Rientje. Even more than 10 years later, he still can't get used to having to give up Steyn. He thinks our initiative is admirable and once wanted to start something like this himself, but he was a bit afraid of the publicity that can be made around such a child. I say that I understand that, but afterwards it turns out that, in our case, it wasn't too bad and it was not abused. I give them a card from the Rinus Pini Fund and promise to tell their story in the blog. After a little chat, they continue walking and I cycle on to my final destination Warmeriville, which I reach, against all odds, around 3:15 PM.

It is a town with a strong connection to WWI. Nowadays the most important industry is a sugar factory because all farmers grow sugar beets there, among other things. No noteworthy buildings. A nice quiet area with large farmlands. I have an apartment with Cathy and Francis who are receiving guests at air B&B for the very first time. It is a very nice house because Francis has golden hands. He is a retired man from the construction industry and she still works as a childcare worker in a home with mentally handicapped children. Everything is perfectly furnished and the apartment is super. They are very friendly and helpful. I sleep on the mezzanine, a higher part of the studio and that turns out to be very hot at night, but I still sleep well.

Fortunately, I had bought everything on Saturday knowing that most shops are closed on a Sunday, so I have everything for a nice evening meal. A portion of paella that I can heat up in the microwave and an extra (rectangular) can of peas of the Cassegrain brand. I love their canned vegetables with a little mayonnaise. You won't find that brand in Belgium, so I eat it there almost every day in France. I still have some rosé wine from the day before and a Pelforth brown beer (brewed in the north of France) and I am so lucky to still have a piece of French emmentaler au lait cru, made with unpasteurized raw milk and a piece of French bread, and the feast is complete.

Before my evening meal I have already written my blog and at 7.30 pm I am in bed and immediately fall asleep. Tomorrow is the penultimate day from Warmeriville to the French Ardennes to reach Scourmont Abbey, near Chimay in the Belgian Ardennes. Another 100 km ride, relatively flat at first, but then onto the French Ardennes, so I hope to fall asleep soon. Apologies again that there are few pictures of this day but the stories speak for themselves and ask for no pictures. After my phone battery dies I can boot back up and everything seems to be working normally. Hopefully it's still the case in the morning.

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