• AndyAsh

La Teste de Buch and North.

The Cycle Tan finally fades...

La Teste de Buch to Hourtin 95 km

This day was a pleasure inasmuch as it was the first day in what seems like weeks that we weren’t wet all day. Apart from a lunchtime shower that we sat out in a bus shelter, we were gloriously dry…cold, but DRY!!!

We set off after watching a lot of news of the Gilets Jaunes on TV. There had been a good deal of damage done, and we had been lucky to avoid nearby trouble spots. The nearest we got was when we passed some Gilets Jaunes protesters, and had received a cheery bonjour on the way past. As we cruised through, a big homemade sign was urging their compatriots to wake up and organise.

I spent a wee while pondering how an movement without leaders would go about organising. I guess there are so many people in the world who have simply had enough of the status quo, and want to see change, that the detail comes later. I've got to say – its very difficult not to have sympathy, as the rich keep getting richer, and the poor keep getting poorer, and our lovely planet is being trashed for profit…none of which we see.

Luckily, I had hours to ponder this as we cruised through beautiful pine forests and beautiful wee villages.

The Cycle path

We had been told not to arrive early at our billet for the night, The Hotel du Pins, so it was dark when we arrived. It was a lovely home from home for the night, run by nice people, in a great location.

…and we were dry!!!

Hourtin to Royan 56 km

This was another great day’s cycling. It was dry all day, and we actually cast a shadow at times. At lunchtime, the clouds broke a little and we even saw a bit of blue sky. We took quiet back roads from Hourtin to Verdun sur Mer, where the ferry sails to Royan. The ferry stood to take a chunk out of the day, so not as much cycling as we'd like.

This is great cycling country, and we were wondering how crowded it must get in summer. It is a bit of a cyclist’s paradise really, and we were enjoying our day enormously.

We passed some French cyclists who were on a tour around the Tour De France route (yeah, in winter!). They had just got back from two and a half years cycling America, from top to bottom (or North to South if you're that way inclined). We chatted for a bit, and they took our phone number and promised to try to get us some lodgings further north. You meet some of the nicest people on a bike!

We arrived at the ferry in good time to find the cafes we were depending on for lunch all shut. We dined in style on bananas, and pretended we were full up.

With our bellies scraping on our backbones, we jumped on the ferry, which docked in Royan just in time to stop the slippery slide into hypothermia that sitting on the passenger deck nearly brought on.

A quick dash through Royan brought us to our bed for the night, and we spent the rest of the afternoon checking out closed shops and restaurants. By the time we found a café open we ate and then went straight to the supermarket to buy more food.

Second dinner anyone?

Royan to La Rochelle 96 km

Today was our third straight day without rain; and quite possibly our last, if the weather forecast is to be believed.

We left Royan this morning on a crisp, cold, sunny morning. The classic winter morning we would all have, every morning in winter, given the choice. The frost was melting as soon as the sun touched it, and by 10 o’clock. It was if there had never been a frost at all.

Rochefort...who owns all these boats?

Every pedal stroke was a pleasure this morning as we pushed strongly towards Rochefort. We lunched on a park bench on the roadside in yet another twee, picture postcard limestone village before setting off to La Rochelle.

We picked up the Eurovelo 1 again early afternoon and it started off on quiet traffic free roads, promising much. After about 20 km or so, it turned into an exercise in managing frustration, as we shared the path with hundreds of pensioners, too blind to see the huge cycle path markings, and too deaf to hear our bells trying to warn them of our approach. The ones that did hear the bells, would turn round just as you were passing them, with reaction times so slow, that they would have to be filmed in time lapse to be seen with the human eye.

Slowed down to walking pace, it was almost impossible to keep the bikes upright. We abandoned the route in the interests of finding our bed for the night while it was still night.

Still there wasn't much that could spoil such a classic day’s cycle touring and the kilometres piled up. I don't think we could have had an easier 95 km than today.

Heading up the coast tomorrow…rain forecast!

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