DIY Tour de France!

DIY Tour de France!

Cathy McKenzie and her husband Lachie hired bikes and rode across the French Riviera!

Loulabelle's FrancoFiles episode 126 - click here to listen

Guest: Cathy McKenzie

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I have known Cathy McKenzie for many years, but I never knew she was a lover of all things French! This year during the Australian winter, Cathy and her husband Lachie travelled to France and followed the sun for the entire European summer!

Cathy and Lachie have travelled to France previously numerous times, including on an organised cycling tour. This year however, they decided to go and make up their own tour! They settled on a region to cycle in and booked bikes through a company that had an arrangement to store their luggage during the cycling leg of the vacation as well. That way they that only needed the paniers to store everything they needed during the few weeks of cycling.

They cycled in a couple of different regions of France during this recent trip, mainly across the French riviera. Cathy locked in arrangements for weekends as this region is extremely popular during the summer months and she suspected accommodation could be more difficult to come by when all the French locals descended on the coast as well! During the week though, they rode until they felt like stopping and if a village or area tugged at their heart strings, they stayed a few days. Sometimes Cathy booked accommodation a day ahead and on other occasions she took recommendations from locals or friends of the places they should head to next.

As well as the cycling holiday, this trip was also about completing a Grand Slam for Cathy and Lachie! They have been to Wimbledon previously and went to the Australian Open in January. The French Open was therefore on the itinerary in this 2023 summer and after Europe they travelled home to Australia via New York to attend the US Open.

Before leaving France, they had memorable experiences cycling on the west French coast near Bordeaux for a week, staying in St Malo, where again there were bikes for their use and they even spent a night staying on the Mont Saint Michel island.

One similar experience both Cathy and I had related to the attempt to view the finish of the Tour de France in Paris. It was a rainy day for Cathy this year and without corporate ticket access to covered areas, she and Lachie decided not to sit out in the rain but rather changed their itinerary to a more suitable wet day activity. For me and Paul last year, we were thwarted by my lack of preparation in checking the route to the vantage point we had worked out was the best fit for us with public access. Unfortunately we found ourselves on a metro train that unexpectedly ran as an express through all the stations closest to the TdF action! Apparently this is commonly done as a means to keep the crowds to a minimum in the streets. I will know better for next time to check the route and the method to get there thoroughly prior to the day!

I loved listening to Cathy chat about her experience including her fave food and song for the LFF playlist. Her choice of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables, got us chatting about our dreams. That song always makes me evaluate where I’m at in life and whether my young Loulabelle self would be happy with where I’m at in life now. Would she be proud? Would she make the same choices again? For Cathy, the song has a way of helping her feel connected to France, so for that reason (plus the fact that I just love it!) it’s going on the playlist!


Mousse au Chocolat


I Dreamed a Dream – Les Miserables

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