Honeymooners complete pedalboat journey from Paris to Normandy coast

A Parisian adventurer and his partner have completed their "honeymoon" trip by pedal boat on the River Seine from Paris to the Normandy coast 360 kilometres away.

Honeymooners complete pedalboat journey from Paris to Normandy coast
Rémi Le Calvez and Victoria Berni. Photo: Capitaine Remi/Facebook
Rémi Le Calvez and Victoria Berni arrived in the pretty port town of Honfleur at the weekend after a dramatic final sprint during which they had to battle strong winds, waves and fatigue from 12 days of pedalling.
“Port authorities told us it (the final 18 kilometres) was too dangerous without an escort so we put out a post on Facebook and miraculously a fireman who had a boat offered to help,” Le Calvez said.
With the escort boat sailing alongside them ready to fish them out of the water if they capsized, they finally arrived at Honfleur at around 9 pm on Friday and found a small welcoming committee of locals who had followed their progress on social media and had champagne on hand to celebrate.


Château Gaillard in Les Andelys. Capitaine Remi/Facebook
Le Calvez, 30, who describes himself as a travel blogger, and Berni, a 26-year-old civil servant, had this summer entered into a PACS, the French term for a civil union, and wanted to celebrate it by going on a romantic honeymoon.
“We're from Paris and we see the Seine every day,” a panting Rémi Le Calvez told The Local by telephone last week as he pedalled on the river about 20km upstream from the city of Rouen.
“So we said to ourselves that it would be fantastic to follow it all the way to the sea,” he said.
The couple slept in a tent for three of the nights on their trip, and spent some nights in a hotel but the rest of the time were offered a bed by generous locals impressed by their endeavour.
Le Calvez admitted that things got a bit tense for a while during the trip, especially when there were huge cargo ships on the river sending out huge waves that rocked their flimsy pedalboat.
And there was a moment when the adventure almost came to a premature end when river police at Rouen hauled them out of the water, saying pedalboats were not allowed in that part of the river But when they explained that they had all the necessary permits they were allowed to continue.
“On the whole it was an amazing trip, and the scenery between Paris and Rouen was truly magnificent,” he said on Tuesday, as he enjoyed a well-deserved rest.
Their exploits were recorded by local and national newspapers, and national television station France 3 devoted a report to their trip (see below).
The pedal boat trip comes a year after the pair hitch-hiked from Paris to Lapland dressed in Santa Claus outfits. 
For their next adventure they hope to tour Sri Lanka in a tuk tuk.


‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?


One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”


One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”