We spend a miserable night, wake up soaking wet, realise that we have been sleeping with our heads the wrong end and vow to chuck the tent in the next bin. In compensation we enjoy a great morning cycling without the packs, while retracing a cross country route that we had managed to miss the day before, and then we return, load up and do another gruelling 60km to St Omer.
I don’t think either of us has ever been so tired before (at least not since the last time we had never been so tired before). We fall into a hotel and sleep for 3 hours before even having a beer. The Tour de France and all its peripheral crowds are blaring around us, but we hear nothing. Then we eat enough for six and sleep again.
Our base guide for the French section of the route is the Topoguide A from the Association Internationale Via Francigena (AIVF) backed up by the Vademecum, GPS and local maps where we can get hold of them. Wherever possible we are trying to follow the recommended route given by the AIVF. However, there is no associated marking on the ground and the route uses (often for good reasons) combinations of roads, Grand Randonnée paths and signed and unsigned local pathways. The map itself typically compresses 35km of terrain into about 15cm of paper, with consequent challenges for the navigator. However, our reason for being here is to try to shed more light on the route and so though the morning was frustrating in repeating ground we felt we had achieved something.
As BB has said the long day took its toll, we road straight past the Abbaye of St Paul in Wisques, seeking the kind of inner nourishment that only a really good pizza can provide. Our hotel (Les Frangins) was in the centre of Arras. A typical 2 star at what seems like standard rate of 65 euro for a double room.