May in Montreuil

Back in May, we hopped on my motorbike and zipped off to Montreuil-sur-mer in northern France. During a longer trip around the country the previous summer, we’d marvelled at how easy it would be to hop across the channel for a weekend; the bank holiday seemed as good a time as any.

Taking the bike on an early train, we reached Montreuil by early afternoon. All very simple, but the weather was soaking wet and unseasonably cold. By the time we arrived, so were we.

Such is motorcycling – the highs are higher and the lows are lower. Still,  if the weather threatened to lend the weekend a subdued air, the town’s annual cycle race lifted it right back up. Some no-nonsense street decorations celebrated the occasion in style:

The race kicked off the next morning. After some waiting, a helicopter buzzed overhead, announcing the imminent arrival of the peloton. As the weather was wet and cold again, I wondered if the high street’s greasy cobbles would slow the pace, but the pack belted through.

With airhorns blasting and a surprising amount of support vehicles adding to the commotion, the peloton sped off and a damp quiet returned. We set off to wander around the perimeter wall, a picturesque way to spend an hour here. Despite its name, Montreuil-sur-mer is no longer near the sea, and a walk around it provides plenty in the way of country views. On one corner we looked across the fields to see the peloton racing back toward the town.

It was a pretty good day for the cycling, really – so cold that spinning along on a racer was a good option to stay warm. Disappointing stuff for May, if predictable given the fact it was a bank holiday! We opted for a lazier warm-up method – a lovely chocolat chaud in the square, where the race was finishing.

While we didn’t get to see Montreuil in its sunniest light, it was a lovely little place to wander around and well worth the visit. The next day we looked further afield, riding along to the coast at Le Touquet. There, looking out across a cool, silvery sea, we enjoyed our first ice cream of the season. Why let the weather dictate when summer begins?

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