There's a lot to cram in - that's not just a reference to the abundance of patisserie visits throughout this first fortnight (though it's perhaps my fondest memory of France).
To start at the start, Paris completely passed me by. Finishing work on Thursday, packing and catching a Eurostar on Friday and starting the expedition on Saturday is not a good way to experience one of the most culturally interesting cities in the world and press obligations meant that by the time I'd eaten dinner with my family and indulged the French cliche with an entree of snails and taken a few hours sleep, it was time to bid Paris adieu.
There was barely time to say a longer goodbye to my family who had flown out especially and had little time to see anything but the Eiffel Tower, but they do have a haul of miniature Eiffel Tower statue's available (flashing light and non-flashing available for a reasonable price).
Not having time to enjoy the city with them was possibly the one and only regret of what's otherwise been a great few weeks.
There was none of the comic stupidity that usually marks the start of my expeditions - falling off my bike at the very first set of traffic lights in Sydney or turning up at an Oxford University boat house to row to London and finding that the water was 'un-rowable'. I was full of relief and feeling relaxed to be able to start an expedition that had taken 3 years to plan, while half expecting a Mr Bean style incident before the day was complete.
From the first town I visited, Moret-sur-Loing, after cycling south of Paris, France has been a relentless display of beautiful architecture and historic towns.
Cycling alongside the Loire from Orleans to Savonnieres was a highlight reel of churches and castles perched high overlooking the river, and for those not inclined towards the Gothic and Renaissance architecture, the artisan patisseries and chocolatiers have their own visual appeal.
The flat roads beckoning many a retiree cyclist, I single-handedly brought the average age of cyclists on the road down. Only one week since I ventured inland away from Loire I'd already like to return.
Still not a single cyclist in my age bracket (which I can say is pre-30 for another few months). Here caravans and a few retiree cyclists tour between chateau to chateau tasting the specialties of sparkling white wine along the Loire and red in Bordeaux. The back wheels of each that bit more wobbly with each visit.
If all this sounds like a leisurely saunter through France then that's because it largely has been, and it's highly recommended! Lap the World will get much tougher than cycling for five hours a day, but I was keen not to burn out too quickly, feeling exhausted two weeks into an 18 month journey would be like getting cramp on the start line of the 100 meters final.
And a prominent reason for the enjoyment has been the welcoming behaviour of almost every French person I've met. On only the second day I said a quick 'bonjour' to a couple who were out cycling in a small village only to be invited to the local market and treated to a complimentary saucisse (sausages) at one of the tax-free markets that small towns and villages throw once every few months. As it was free-free I decided to overlook that I'd only left my overnight stop in Veneux-des-Sablons 15 minutes prior to the offer, and tucked in.
Far from the association of 'arrogance' that we sometimes characterise our French neighbours with, I've found most to be incredibly humble. I've asked 'parlez-vous Anglais' enough to perfect pronounciation and almost each time the response is 'a little' only for said person to embark on English delivered perfectly.
The one disagreement that erupted and threatened to disrupt Anglo-French relations was predictably about cheese. Staying with a friend, Pauline in Blois, she was ridiculing cheddar and left me no option but to defend cheddar in the debate of cheddar vs unpasturised blue cheese, while simultaneously pinching small bits of the delicious blue cheese while she wasn't looking.
Arriving into San Sebastian the Pyrenees mountains are looming ahead. It's a 60km cycle purely uphill to start tomorrow, Spain will have a big first impression to overcome if it's too be as enjoyable as France.