Paris-Brest-Paris 2015: Architecture

Riding 1230km across France within 90 hours (or less, depending on your start time) is a grueling affair. But even in my most enervated state, the charm of the rustic French villages never failed to captivate me. With cobblestones occasionally rumbling underneath your tires, the sturdy stone facades of the homes were decorated with brightly painted shutters, wrought iron balconets and colorful blooms of flowers spilling forth from window boxes. (There’s even a government-sponsored competition that encourages townspeople to beautify their green spaces.)

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I wish I’d stopped to take more photos of the magnificent castle in Fougerès that dates back to the 11th century. How often does one get the opportunity to ride past a medieval château?


Even their utilitarian water towers are a thing of beauty.


But the churches! Each one was more marvelous than the next. As you climbed upwards into the heart of each village, a resplendent church with a tall spire welcomed our arrival into the town square. You’d think by the time you saw the 20th one you’d become indifferent — but when you’re riding through a storybook that’s come to life, I daresay you’ll never feel jaded.


The picturesque commune of Sizun was my personal favorite by far; our group stopped their twice on our outbound and inbound journey to stop at a fine boulangerie for pain au chocolat. The striking Arc de Triomphe that leads to the Sizun parish close served as a sanctuary for many worn-out riders.


But nothing matched the moment when I saw the Pont de l’Iroise rising in the distance as we descended towards the port city of Brest. We paused on the Albert Louppe Bridge, which spans the clear blue waters of the Elorn River, to pose with this elegant structure. It was a stunning tribute to our achievement of reaching the halfway point of our ride.