There’s no mistaking that I have now arrived in the south of France. Not only has it been hot (in fairness, it’s not been in the least but cold since Brittany) but there have been a long list of things that tick the Southern Europe boxes; lavender, a lizard, terracotta roofs, parched fields of crops, hilltop villages, towns that shut down in the heat of the day… No cicadas yet but they will come in the next week I imagine.
A short one today… and no video. It’s often tempting on a non-cycling day to plunge into full tourist mode and spend an exhausting day visiting the sites. Today I haven’t done that. I’ve spent much of the day wandering aimlessly around – flâner in French – and sorted out a few bits and pieces along the way. I’ve had the most expensive haircut of my life (I daren’t admit how much but next time I will check the prices before I sit down…) with my developing beard shaved off (which perhaps doubled the cost), bought some replacement sandals, done my washing, sorted out my car tax and the customs issues with the GoPro (ongoing saga…) and even checked on my plants back home (via a phone call with my mother). But no video. One thing I haven’t yet done is edit the podcast and that is my job for the next couple of hours. It should be available by the end of the day. Still a while for you to catch up on the previous four ‘Grand Tour’ episodes (numbers 052 to 055). Tomorrow: the Canal de la Garonne…
Today was a good day. A very good day. Well, apart from the first 10km, but that aside, I loved today’s cycling. It had everything that you might want from a good cycle touring day; beautiful scenery, variety, a favourable wind, vineyards, good signage, a few nice encounters along the way, quality surfaces, an exciting destination, a laundrette and beer at the end of the day and a day off in your favourite French city to look forward to. My day could only improve if Yorkshire Television* decide to revive 3-2-1 with Ted Rogers* and Dusty Bin. On the subject of which, happy Yorkshire Day!
They certainly packed them in at the municipal campsite in La Rochelle. As predicted, it was a noisy evening, including fireworks at one point. Things did quieten down after midnightish but then at some point in the early hours the couple in the text next to mine decided to have a, err… loud romantic interlude. I’ll leave that there.
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 getting a little tired and weary. Not of the cycling – that’s fine – but if all the names of places. In Brittany it was a case of not being able to spell the towns and villages properly. Down here on the west coast it’s actually remembering the dam things. Just look at the title today. It’s a miracle it fits on a web page.
Up early again this morning and almost the first off the site. I was beaten to it by a French solo cyclist, about my age who I exchanged a few words with before he set off home at the end of his week long jaunt along the Loire. The Loire à Vélo is, I suspect, what the majority of cyclists on last night’s site are there to ride. Perhaps a few for the Velodyssée but as it’s so close to the mouth of the river – about 25km – it’s a good place to set up camp at the end of day 1 taking into account you will probably have travelled from elsewhere to get to the start of the route. It’s also, of course, the start of the EuroVelo 6. I suspect (there’s a lot of suspecting going on tonight – perhaps someone can confirm) that the EuroVelo 6 is one of the most cycled routes, if not the most cycled, vying for position with the Rhine Cycle Route or EuroVelo 15. I digress…
It’s been a good day on the bike… and as I write this, it’s not quite over. At 5:30pm there remains about 15km (and a train and a ferry) to ride. All will become clear. With no convivial breakfast on offer at last night’s campsite as there had been back in Gouarec courtesy of Geoff and his team, I was the first off the site at around 8am.