After Amsterdam, Seville, Enfield and our five ferries adventure, the four musketeers will be riding again as we prepare for another #5GoMad trip (yes, I know there are only four of us) this time to France.
I sold my travelling companions the idea of Nantes based on seeing some interesting infrastructure there during our brief visit there last year at the start of our cycle tour – and the fact that it has managed to increase its modal share for cycling in the city centre from 2% to 10% since 2008 (Obviously, as a serious urbanist and cycle campaigner, it had nothing to do with wanting to revisit the amazing ice cream stand that sculpts your ice cream cone into a beautiful rose with individual ice-cream petals). We’ll also be heading back via Paris and chance to experience first hand the changes being wrought in that city (and maybe also have a sneaky go on an electric scooter, having had a secret hankering for one ever since we were overtaken by an oh-so-chic young Frenchwoman on one in Paris while we were cycling from Gare du Nord to Gare Montparnasse on our suddenly outmoded and outpaced laden touring bikes).
But first we have to get there. If I were to fly, this would be a simple matter of spending about £80 and hopping onto a plane in Edinburgh direct to Nantes. Because I am trying to avoid short haul flights (and feel free to lecture me – again – about our long-haul flights in the comments below) I am instead spending over £200 on trains and an overnight ferry – which hopefully will feel like part of the holiday – I mean, sorry, serious research trip – itself. Certainly a glance at Google Streetview suggests that the ride from Portsmouth Harbour train station to the actual harbour in Portsmouth will be an instructive lesson in how not to make your city cycle friendly.
We head off on Thursday, so any suggestions for what to see or do in either city welcomed. And for those of you who tweet, please do follow the #5GoMadinFrance hashtag for updates on our adventures over the weekend.