After a very pleasant journey across the south of England, a ferry trip later and I find myself enjoying bagettes, roads without potholes and nursing my first bit of sunburn.  I have made it to Paris and tomorrow I shall be attempting to negotiate the Champs-Élyséés and the Arc de Triomphe (not to mention the rest of the never-ending streets of Paris) as I start heading further south.

Wild camping in France is proving to be a little more problematic than anticipated.  It appears that there are magical treasures and wild beasts in the woods and forests of France as they seem to protect them with great care.  Most of the time they are surrounded by barbed fencing, use big gates and have a range of signs effectively saying "keep out!"  Many of the woods also claim to be catching these wild beasts which would otherwise be roaming freely across the French countryside as they have big animal trap signs up.  Less than ideal camping ground.  In addition to this the farmers don't do their bit for bio-diversity as there seem to be no hedges to separate fields which could otherwise have been used to provide a bit of cover.  Finally, it's aparently not yet camping season in France as the majority of the campsites are closed at this time of year.  So far in France I have sought the mystical treasure in forests twice (avoiding being gobbled up by the wild beasts) and found two campsites which were happy to accept me (one of which was closed but after putting on my best dispondent face, the nice Frenchman let me stay anyway).  I now have a magic letter (I hope) translated into French (and Romainian for when I arrive there) which explains what I am doing and asks for a little assistance from people where possible.  The idea came from Alistair Humphries and Rob Lilwall who have both done cycle expeditions much longer than mine and said that the letter was amazingly useful.  If I get stuck any night I can now hopefully use this to help pursuade the kind French farmers to pitch my tent on their land.  If anyone is fluent (or knows someone who is fluent) in Italian, Slovak, Hungarian or Mongolian please let me know!

Strong headwinds and crosswinds have made cycling a little more hard work and scary. I'm very much looking forward to reaching the south coast when the prevailing winds will be mostly behind me for the rest of the journey.  I'm also looking forward to recieving my new kindle through the post thanks to my Dad's efforts, as my first one sadly passed away during my first night in France.  Very much looking forward to being able to read the last couple of chapters of Mark Cavendish's autobiography and hopefully having a bit more regular access to the internet again (at least while there is still free wi-fi kicking about in cafe's etc).

Finally, I have been recieiving a few unsavoury comments about the fluff that is appearing on my face.  One cannot become a true adventurer without a bit of facial hair even if it is slightly tinged with a bit of ginger (or as some of you like to call it 'African Sunset')!
Rebecca West DBE 1892-1983
14/3/2011 03:31:57 am

In England and America a beard usually means that its owner would rather be considered venerable than virile; on the continent of Europe it often means that its owner makes a special claim to virility

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Johno
15/3/2011 10:52:29 pm

Hi Chris, I've emailed 2 friends about your letter - one lives in Hungary and so his Hungarian is pretty much as fluent as you can hope for. The other studied Italian and lived in Italy for a while so she's pretty fluent too.

When/if they get back to me I'll let you know! Hope you're enjoying the far sunnier climes!
- John

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Si
22/3/2011 08:42:07 am

Hey Captain Caper

Can't believe you've already gotten to Nice in one month. Some great photos of France. Hope those 4 pairs of socks are playing up - Superheroes need comfy feet!

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