Amelia Gentleman finds a family cycling break in Normandy surprisingly relaxing – provided the kids are well-fuelled with sugary treats
It is crucial to remember, when cycling with children, that their good mood and enthusiasm depend entirely on how long it has been since they last ate. It is also vital to know that in small French towns there is no point arriving for lunch at 1.57pm and expecting anywhere to serve you.
Turned away by the local bar, and hungry after cycling 20km, we dashed into the boulangerie in Mêle-sur-Sarthe three minutes before closing time and bought what they had left: two baguettes and a €7 box of petit-fours – tiny strawberry tarts, rum babas and coffee eclairs. These made a memorable lunch on the wall in front of the war memorial as we watched teenagers whiling away the afternoon, smoking and circling the square on their scooters.