Le Grand Tour: Day 28 – Saint-Gilles-Croix-De-Vie To La Rochelle (140km)

CURRENT LOCATION: La Rochelle harbour

Google estimated the distance today at 121km. I wouldn’t normally trust Google distances when it comes to cycling but when I compared the Google route on Google Maps and the EuroVelo 1 / Vélodyssée route on Open Street Map they looked the same so I gave the Google distance a bit more credence than I normally would. How naïve am I? I tell the story in today’s video in which I’ve included some commentary. 

I’m going to use the opportunity here of reminiscing. Today was the first time I’ve crossed one of the routes that I’ve cycled in the past. (Actually, not quite true as I travelled through Boulogne earlier in the trip on a train and in the process crossed my 2010 cycle from southern England to southern Italy but it was of no consequence, especially as I merely saw Boulogne through the window of the TER…) And not only that. I did, this afternoon, cycle about 30km of the Vélofrancette, a route that links La Rochelle to the north coast at Caen, that I cycled in 2015. Not that I recognised it. I suspect either it might have changed or that I didn’t stick to the route in 2015. The latter option is most probable. 

What I do remember very clearly about being in La Rochelle back in May 2015 was the political climate. I arrived early in the day and sat down in a back street bar to read the local newspaper. It read ”Vote Crucial Pour L’Europe”.

“Crucial vote for Europe” reads the headline (no shit, Sherlock…). But actually, it wasn’t. Not for Europe as a whole. Europe without the UK has cracked on with building a stronger, more united continent that works for the benefit of all its citizens, supporting the weakest states and in the process nudging their economies and people in a more prosperous direction. The headline should really have read “Crucial Vote for Britain”. It’s the British who have suffered, weakened their economy, made life more difficult for its companies and its people. It’s Britain that is in political turmoil seven years after that general election vote of 2015 making us a laughing stock amongst our neighbours. It’s our government which is chasing free trade deals with countries on the other side of the planet to compensate for the loss of the one we had on our doorstep and niftily avoiding to address the climate change consequences of shipping more stuff half-way around the world. “But we got our freedom back” bleat the Brexit bunch. They always were a deluded segment of the population. 

For me, it all began in La Rochelle… 

Anyway, tomorrow I catch the fifth of my trains. La Rochelle to Royan. This was one of the planned train journeys so as not to repeat that cycle from Royan to La Rochelle. In 2015. Back then it took me two days; tomorrow morning it will take two trains but allow me to start cycling in the direction of Bordeaux in the afternoon. I don’t know too much about the cycle song the northern side of the Gironde estuary so if anyone has any thoughts, please do share. 

In the meantime, I’ll try and get some sleep here at La Rochelle’s busy, somewhat lively municipal campsite. It could be a long evening. I may just hide in my tent and listen to Radio 4… 


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1 reply »

  1. You’re making great progress and I particularly liked your comments about that crucial vote.

What do you think?