Distance: 72 km
Elevation: 537 m
Duration: 4:19 h
Weather: sunny but not too hot, 19 C
Today right into the Ardennes, and well , I have to admit they are very nice indeed!
Actually much nicer than the picture above. I wasn’t very capable of converting the nice landscape also in nice pictures. Probably the nicest valley was the one just leasing into La Roche en Ardennes.
My hotel tonight was on the top of a very steep hill, and even after breakfast the clouds were still hanging low in the fields.
So the day started with a steep descent back into the valley where I would rejoin EuroVelo 5 route. In contract to Luxembourg here in Belgium the route is very well indicated.
Nevertheless the first 15 or so km were a bit hard, not because of any incline/descent but because of the road surface. (I actually didn’t take a picture of the worst parts of the path, were it was covers in huge rocks and I had to push the bike)
When I finally hit asphalt again, it was the smoothest tarmac ever! Such a beauty:
And actually for Belgium this was so far the best tarmac, as a lot of the smaller streets are a bit deteriorated.
I had planned my first stop of the day in Bastogne, at about 25 km. I am always planning ahead where are bakeries or restaurants so not to run out of calories (and rest stops). Bastogne was at a great distance as a first stop. What I didn’t know that the would be a cycling race (probably of under 19s) starting in the center of Bastogne shortly after I arrived. When I first came into the city on an other one of these rather uncompacted gravel roads, I noticed a lot of cyclists in team gear. I thought that maybe some teams are training there, but actually it was the last few minutes before their race. So I witnessed the “depart fictif” …
Within minutes of the depart everyone, all the team cars had left and I went to a local bakery which had been my objective for even going into town and got myself a tartlet and a huge baguette. It turns out that in Belgium baguettes (ie sandwiches) are prepared at the moment instead of already lying around since hours waiting for someone who wasn’t exactly this kind of sandwich. The one I had prepared was with salmon and really good (and enormous, although I had taken the smaller one).
My accommodation for tonight was in La Roche en Ardennes, a small town I had never heard of before, but which seems to be THE center of an outdoor activities in the Ardennes. Coming to my hotel I did cross some incredibly dirty MTB riders (all male I think), and down at the river, there were lots of kayaks waiting for the next day.
However for being a Saturday work really nice weather they weren’t a lot of cyclists on my route today. I am on an official EuroVelo route, but nevertheless I met maybe 1 or 2 other long distance riders per day. So different from the Danube or the Altmühl where it was sometimes even too much to greet all of them. Not only cyclotourists were missing, even just plain normal cyclists weren’t abandoned either. Until hitting La Roche, where all the MTB guys were rolling around.
I was lucky that I still got a room at La Roche, as it seemed to be very popular. Most of my bookings i I do though Booking.com, but they had nothing available for this town, so o searched on Google maps and mailed a few of the hotels and only one answered with some availability. But it was nice enough. An old, big hotel overlooking the valley.
In the late afternoon/evening I went down into the village, which is spotted with tanks from the offensive of the Ardennes.
But the village itself is quite nice.