Étape / Stage 6 - From Livarot to Deauville
Next day begun with the first snowy view: during the night it was cold and some snow came down, but the frozen trees and fields to white wonderland made the morning really memorable. Unfortunately by the noon the warm sunshine melted the white stuff and the ride form Livarot via Lisieux and Pont l’Eveque to Deauville had only some snow visible in places, where Sun didn’t reach.
Livarot will be departure town of the stage 7 of Tour de France 2015, and the area was already now decorated with bikes and texts welcoming tour to city that is famous for it’s cheese.
As I was in region of Calvados, I popped in to a Chateau Breuil for some chopping, before stopping in Lisieux for remembering 2011, when I was there following the final sprint (tight race btw Edvald Boasson Hagen, Matthew Goss & Thor Hushovd) of the Tour 2011. It was colder and less crowded now.
And then, finally before the sunset, I reached Deauville, famous beach city of Normandy and summer destination of Parisian jetset. It’s also known for the American Film Festival, but I didn’t see any movie stars there – but the famous beach booths named after the stars and directors.
Étape / Stage 7 - Le Havre and Étretat
The ride on the next day started with a friendly greeting to Aki Kaurismäki, Finnish director who did some years ago a beautiful movie in the city that game also a name to this film: Le Havre. In the Kaurismäki world the people are lonely and landscapes realistic, empty and quiet. So the ride started from the port of Le Havre and continued along the coast to Étretat, small village famous for the cliffs like on the other side of the Channel.
Weather was now cloudy with occasional rain, hail and snow – just like it has to be in Kaurismäki movies. Therefore the ride was memorable - especially when I ended down to beach under the cliffs near a German bunker from the 2nd World War.
Étape / Stage 8 - Roubaix
A classic: Paris-Roubaix with the cobble stones. It has to be included in the Tour Hivernal, also because the stages 3 and 4 of this year’s Tour de France will run on the small country roads that shake the fillings our from your teeth.
No, cobble stones are not nice to ride. No, it wasn’t very clean riding. Yes, it was still worth of riding and I’d like to do it again. And yes, I was really muddy - like the bike - after the 80 km touring in cold winter weather with sunshine and snow showers.
By the way, long streaks of the traditional Paris-Roubaix route is clearly marked and the area has also other nice cycling routes for short and long rides. Only disadvantage is that signs, usually clear and frequent, miss in some vital places and therefore it’s better to carry a map (or smartphone).