2016-07-07 (Day 21 ) Saint Florentin – Provins

Today’s photo shows a screenshot from the Euro 2016 semi-final clash between France and Germany. Germany were heavy favorites going into the game and they dominated the match but 2 goals from Antoine Griezmann were enough to seal victory for the French. The final whistle was greeted with the sound of fireworks in the small town of Provins, about 80 km east of Paris, where I was staying for the night. That was then followed by cars beeping their horns, and the noise didn’t subside until about 3 in the morning.

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Travoy leaving Camping de l’Armancon. After a poor night’s sleep due to all the mosquito bites I had got the previous evening, it was near 10 before I got away from Camping de l’Armancon.

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Canal de Bourgogne aqueduct over the Amarcon river at Camping de l’Armacon. I had thought that this viaduct was a railway bridge and it was only when leaving that I realized it was an bridge on the Canal de Bourgogne. This explains why there were so many mosquitoes at the campsite the previous evening as mosquitoes breed anywhere there is stagnant water. My tent was only about 50m from this viaduct and as the evening was quite warm and calm, the mosquitoes were out in force.

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Typical mosquito with it’s gut full of blood. Apparently, only female mosquitoes bite as they use the protein in blood as nourishment for their eggs. Female mosquitoes use two very different food sources. They need sugar for energy, which is taken from sources such as nectar, and they need blood as a source of protein for egg development. Because biting is risky and hosts may be difficult to find, mosquitoes take as much blood as possible when they have the opportunity. Blood is directed straight into the mosquito’s stomach.and a mosquito normally feeds from an active blood vessel, where the blood pressure assists in filling their gut rapidly.

Mosquito in Jurassic Park. Mosquitoes from 150 million years have been found trapped in amber and studies have shown that they haven’t evolved or changed much in all that time. Of course, anyone who has watched Jurassic Park will know that the DNA used to recreate the dinosaurs came from blood in a mosquito’s gut, that were found deep underground trapped in amber. Of course, back then global temperatures were much warmer than today averaging up to 50 degrees Centigrade. So mosquitoes were probably more widespread then than today as large parts of the Earth are much colder now than 150 million years ago.

Mosquito life cycle. Mosquitoes normally only live for a week or two after the larvae hatch into adults. Mosquitoes bite using a proboscis, which is like a hypodermic syringe and can even bite through cotton and other loose fabrics. As well as the pain from the bite, mosquitoes secrete saliva and this can leave a painful rash. That is why my legs and arms were covered in blotches this morning. In fact, it would be about almost a week before the pain in my arms subsided though my legs were fine after a day or 2. Apparently, mosquitoes can’t cope with a breeze even if it is as low as 1 kmph so next time on the Tour de Travoy, I might take a small portable fan as well as some insect repellent. I certainly won’t be going back to Camping l’Armancon again if the forecast is for a calm evening.

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Total cycled today – 95 km. Total cycled so far – 1225 km.  Relatively little climbing today but heavy traffic near Sens made for a scary trip at times.

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House with French flag near Cerisiers. France were due to play Germany that evening in the semi-final of Euro 2016 and there were certainly more flags today to be seen than any other day so far. But having said that, I probably only spotted between 10 – 20 flags in total despite cycling past 1000’s of houses in my 95 km trip today.

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Heavy traffic on the D606 to the north of Sens. The plan today was to follow the D606 from Saint Florentin around Sens and then take the D412 north to Provins. Until I got to Sens, the traffic was incredibly light on the D606 so I decided to stay on it as I was making good progress and the road had a wide verge. That was a big, big mistake. North of Sens, the D606 turns into a dual carriageway and the verge disappeared. It was like cycling on a motorway without a hard shoulder as cars and lorries flew past me some doing 150 kph. As it was a dual carriageway, I couldn’t turn around and had to keep going until the next junction. For 10 km, my heart was in my mouth as I tried to make my way to Pont-sur-Yonne to take the D412 north to Provins..

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D412 was much quieter than the D606 north of Sens. In hindsight, it is obvious that most of the traffic was using the D606 to avoid paying a toll on the A5. You can travel on the D606 towards Fontainebleu and then onto Paris and you save about €5 – €10 in toll fees. If only France had free motorways like in Germany or the UK or even a vignette system like in Switzerland, then there would have been a lot less traffic on the D606. French motorway tolls are controlled by about a dozen firms which in turn are mostly owned by construction companies, such as Vinci or Bouygues. Interestingly, France, Spain and Italy, which have had mostly socialist governments over the last 60 years, all have tolled motorways whereas the UK and Germany which have had mostly right wing and pro enterprise governments don’t. Interestingly too, the only region in France with no tolls on their motorways is Brittany which also happens to be the most popular region in France for cycling.

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World War 1 memorial in Bray-sur-Seine. I don’t remember coming across as many memorials on this year’s Tour de Travoy compared to last year’s tour but this memorial stood out as it featured a fallen soldier.

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House with solar panels and a French flag near Everly. I am surprised that there is not more houses with solar panels as there is no shortage of sunshine in France. Perhaps it is because electricity in France is among the cheapest in Europe and consumers on average pay about 12c per unit. However, anyone with solar panels can sell the electricity to EDF under a 20 year agreement and get 29 cent per unit. On this house, there are 12 panels so I guess that this system is roughly 3 kW in size. The roof of this house is facing south-south east so 3 kW of panels here would generate about 20 kWh in the summer and about 6 kWh in the winter for a total of about 4,000 units per year. With tax breaks of up to 50% available, such a system would have cost about €10,000 to install and should generate about €1,200 of electricity a year. So such a system should pay for itself in 8 years.

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Solarpower variation across Europe. You can see from this chart if the house in Everly was located in the south of France, the solar panels would produce almost 50% more power. If the house was in the south of Spain, it would generate almost double the power but the subsidies in Spain are not as good as in France, hence there is actually more solar-power generated in France than in Spain.

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Top 10 solar power countries in Europe. In France, only about 1 house in every 100 has solar panels whereas in Germany, it is roughly one house in every 10. You can see from the above chart that both Germany and even the UK generate much more solar-power than France eventhough both countries would have a lot less sunshine. Subsidies are much more favorable in both these countries than in France so that is why they have so much more panels installed. However, solar panels have continued to drop in price meaning that in some countries, solar-power is now cheaper than both gas and coal as a means of generating electricity.

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Water tower at Everly in France. This is one of my favorite photos from this year’s Tour de Travoy. There is a town in Iowa in the USA which is also called Everly with a famous space age style water tower but I prefer the classic look of the French version. No 2 water towers in France are alike and I just love how the color of this tower blends in with the golden color of the wheat.

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French and Portuguese flags at house in Sousy-Bois. As I got closer to Provins, there were definitely more French flags on display. Here, in the small village of Sousy-Bois, there were 3 houses with both French and Portuguese flags. There were also 3 other houses in the village with French flags. There were maybe a total of only 20 houses in the village so almost half the house had flags on display. This town easily wins the award for having the most flags on display during Euro 2016. In France, towns often have a sign signifying they are a Ville Fleurie (Town of Flowers), similar to the Tidy Towns signs we have in Ireland. I don’t know if Sousy-Bois is a Ville Fleurie but seeing as the French for well done is chapeau and for a flag is drapeau, I hereby say “Chapeau” to the town of Sousy-Bois for winning the “Euro 2016 Ville Drapeau” on this year’s Tour de Travoy.

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Camping Fontaine in Provins. It was around 6 o’clock when I made it to my campsite for the night. The campsite is huge with about a dozen mobile homes and at least 5 acres in size but it was very quiet with only about a half dozen campervans and tents at the campsite when I arrived. The grass was very long and looked like it hadn’t been cut in months which was a surprise as most French campsites are very well maintained. Had the grass been wet, my feet would have got soaked but as the sun was shining brightly, the long grass was fine. The facilities at Camping Fontaine were very basic but after a shower, I settled down to watch the France – Germany game.

Patrick Battiston is stretchered off after almost being decapitated by the German keeper Harold Schumacher in 1982. Before the game, I read a mock live-blog  on the Guardian website about the 1982 World Cup semi-final in Spain between both teams. That game was arguably one of the most controversial games ever and it was incredible to read all about Schumacher’s challenge on Battiston and re-live that incident again. But what stood out from the live-blog  was the amount of chances each team created that night. The game had finished 1-1 after normal time and in the first 10 minutes of extra time, France scored twice. But Germany managed to claw one goal back before half time in extra time and then equalized 10 minutes later to send the game to a penalty shootout. With scores tied 4-4 in the shootout, Schumacher, who should have been sent off an hour earlier, dived to his right to save Bossis’s shot and Hrubesch then scored his penalty to send Germany through to the final against Italy.

Griezmann scores twice as France defeat Germany 2 -0. There was no way tonight’s game in Marseille would match the drama at the Pizjuan stadium in Seville in 1982 and so it proved. Unlike 34 years earlier, Germany dominated the game but couldn’t take their chances. Instead, Griezmann scored twice to put Germany to the sword just like he had done against Ireland. The final whistle was greeted with hundreds of fireworks in the town centre of Provins, about 2 km from the campsite. That was then followed by cars beeping their horns. It was like Bastille Day, only 10 times as noisy. The cacophony would go on for another 3 hours before I finally managed to drift off to sleep.

 

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