By 11-year-old Alastair Weeks

ON JULY 21, I finished my last day of primary school, the summer holiday had arrived! On the Thursday when we took the car to Portsmouth, boarded the ferry, found our cabin and collapsed (who could blame us it was 11pm); we would wake up in France. Once we’d arrived at Le Havre we had a four-hour drive to the town of Beaugency. The campsite was discovered and the tent pitched, then it was time to relax through the afternoon. Later that day we went into town to despatch the car in a car park next to the river, we would use no motor vehicle for the next five days. Back at the campsite we went to bed the cycling would begin tomorrow.

After attempting to sleep that night, we packed our paniers – me and my brothers carried our stuff (mat, sleeping bag, clothes, etc) whilst dad carried the tent in a trailer, mum had paniers as well. We biked back into to town to start our day with a pain au raisin the size of my face (I mean, who doesn’t?). After finishing our pastries, we found the route (rather easily the French have signs in all the places you would need them) and left the busy roads for about 20km.

That day we stuck to the Loire river until we had to leave it to get to our campsite. Cycling in the morning and then hanging around for the heat of the day to be over, became routine for our tour. Towards late afternoon we explored the village near the campsite. A certain café that provided ice cream and Tour de France coverage hooked us for an hour before we headed back.

Our days followed a pattern. Get up, pack, pastries, cycle, relax, explore and sleep. The only differences were the distance, weather and the amount of climbing. Our campsites varied in style as well, our first was quite busy and was near the river, the second had lots of neatly cut hedges, the third was next to a point on the La Loire where we could swim. Our next campsite had a bouncy castle slide and a football pitch, the last one had (deep breath) a swimming pool, a cafe, pizza, football pitch and a bouncy castle.

Whilst on our trip there were plenty of landmarks to stop at, such as the Chateaux and its legendary gardens in Villandry, we stopped at different places to look at the views and explore French culture.

Cycling in France, is let's say very different to cycling in Britain. For example; the state of the roads, there were no potholes and the tarmac had no huge unexpected bumps anywhere. The route was packed with other cyclists including families with young children, and when on road there was barely any traffic. When there was traffic people were very friendly, often stopping to let you cross, and you felt like you had a place on the road.

After the four days of cycling where we covered around 150km our first part of the holiday in France was over, the following morning mum took the train to collect our car from Beaugency and we drove to our gite. We only covered four stages of the 26-stage Loire Cycle Route, we plan to return next year to try to get to the Atlantic ocean.