Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Locations of reviewed cafes

For more information on the Cafes I have visited and the latest cafe cycle news go to http://www.cake-crusader.co.uk/

Cake Crusader Book

There is now a Cake Crusader book available where you can follow my journey from humble local trips to world record attempts and near-death experiences. How did a simple method of keeping track of decent cycling café pit stops turn my life upside down? Track my adventures into Europe, up mountains and right across Great Britain as I become a 'rising star' on social media. Will I prove my critics wrong? Should cheese scones be served hot or cold? Do I really have nothing better to do with his time? A must read for lovers of cycling and cake or anyone wanting to make it big in the virtual world

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Monday, 1 September 2014

London to Paris. Day 4, the end.

London to Paris,
Day 4
The final part of our London to Paris (Avenue Verte) ride is 50 miles with a finish at Notre Dame cathedral. From there it is a short ride to the Gare du Nord (North Station) to catch the Eurostar train home. To make it more exciting we had a deadline. Our bikes had to be delivered to the Eurostar luggage area by 3:15 pm or they would not be on the train with us back to London. To make sure there were no slip ups we went for breakfast at 7:30 in order that we should have plenty of time to get to Paris on schedule.

At our posh hotel the breakfast was a very expensive Buffett style affair. Therefore to increase the value of it I decided to go to the restaurant in my cycle top so I could stuff croissants and pastries into it's many pockets. We could then eat for free if we had emergencies later in the day (as I had to eat our emergency bread yesterday). At such an early time on a Sunday morning all the other guest were still in bed so we were the only ones in the restaurant and out numbered by the guards, I mean waiters. To be able to carry out my plan a series of distraction tactics needed to be employed. I managed to snuffle 4 mini croissants, 3 mini choc au pain and 2 mini pain au raisins into my back cycle jacket pouches as Big George chatted to the guards in his best pigeon French (francais de pigeon). I then backed out of the restaurant while Big George pretended to choke on his baguette. 
Outside hotel about to set off with stolen pastries
The first part of the ride was excellent as we rode along the side of the river Oise, then through some woods before following the banks of the famous Saine (Thames), all of it along purpose built cycle track.
Cycling by river Oise
In relaxed mood we decided to play a game called 'who can name the most famous French people (and why they were famous)'. The idea of the game is to take it in turns to name a famous French person (including a short summary of why they were famous). Who ever names the most famous French people wins. Unfortunately the game didn't last long. I only came up with 4 and lost. My 4 were: Louis Pasture (who invented milk), Louis 14th (who is the king of France), Asterix the Gaul (who defeated the Romans) and his son Charles de Gaul (who built an airport). I made a note to do some more famous French people research ready for next time I play this game.

With only 18 miles to go and seemly plenty of time left we decided to stop at Bistro se Mamie which had a pleasant outside seating area over looking the river.
Final cafe stop on route
As they had no cake I got out the emergency rations from breakfast and ate a complete set. In terms of drinks Big George thought his coffee was a bit weak but, although not spectacular, I found my hot chocolate to be the best one I had had in France. Despite this The Bistro se Mamie would not be winning any of my prizes on this showing I'm afraid.
The full range of booty stolen at breakfast
On our restart things started off well. We had time in hand and quickly covered several more miles on good quality tow paths. We started to plan our Paris sight seeing tour in the extra couple of hours we would have. But there is many a slip between cup and lip (beaucoup loin de la coupe aux levres) as we hit Paris and our plans turned to tatters. First my pannier rack broke as a screw had fallen off. I was able to make a suitable repair as I have learnt that you should always carry a roll of duct tape on adventures such as this and was able to tape the rack back to the frame.
Looking for duct tape in order to re fasten pannier rack to bike
Next the excellent route signage that there had been up to this point had all but disappeared and I now had to navigate just from the bike sat nav. Then we kept getting held up by traffic lights, pedestrians walking on the cycle paths, having to cross busy roads and going down wrong way roads. With faltering progress the time started to slip by quickly and the miles slowly. We required a final spurt down a final wrong way street and got to Norte Dame with our sight seeing plans in tatters. We only had time to take a quick photo before heading off to find the Gare du Nord (North Station).
Finally made it to Notre Dame but with only time for a quick photo
Once at the Gare du Nord (North Station) it took a little while to locate where we had to hand in our bikes but we eventually got them booked in with nearly 10 mins to spare.
The front of the Gare Du Nord (North Station)
There was just enough time for one last cycle cafe review at one of the cafes across the road from the Gare du Nord (North station) at cafe Au Rendezvous des Belges (meeting with Belgiums) although I didn't meet any.
Experiencing Paris cafe culture but I didn't meet any Belgiums
It was the best cafe stop we had had in France, partly because we could relax having achieved our goal and partly because the hot drinks, beer and food (plus some extra emergency breakfast food) all hit the spot. 
Nice bit of French food for lunch
Big George voted it our best cafe stop but I still felt (and was backed up by the stats) that Poppy's was the winner of the best cafe between London and Paris (which I happened to stop at) so I will be making a certificate to send them.

From here it was plain sailing. We boarded the train and safely arrived back in the UK. 

The consensus was that the official London to Paris cycle ride, Avenue verte (green route), was very good in places but very disappointing in others. Overall a successful trip. I will be writing a special top tips blog (see top tips) for anyone attempting the ride to learn from my experience. Tip 1 will be to make sure your route map guide book doesn't get stolen by international terrorists (at gun point) as it makes estimating the time for each days ride rather difficult. 

Final scores to decide the best cafe between London and Paris (which I happened to stop at)
Cafe
Drink
Food
Ambiance
Score
Poppy Café, London
7.0
8
7.5
7.50
Au rendezvous des Belges
7.5
6.5
7.5
7.17
La Balta Café Bar, Senlis
7
8.5
6
7.17
Forge wood campsite bar, Sussex
6.5
6
8
6.83
Charlies deli and coffee shop, Gatwick
6.5
6.5
6
6.33
Bistro Se Mamie, Nr Paris
6.5
6
6.5
6.33
Le Zinc Bleu, Beauvais
7
6.5
5
6.17
Bench, Claremont
0
6
6
4.00


Click link to download London to Paris day 4 route GPX file for your GPS

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