Day 4 - 14/06/09
Surprisingly we got up at 7:30m, the camp was ok and we both had a good nights sleep. Had breakfast, (muesli) the milk in France seemed to be ok, nothing special, in fact it had a little bit of a strange taste but you get used to it and before any of you smart alecís say any thing, no it wasnít off. After our showers and breakfast we packed as much as we could and headed back to Le Mont St Michael, leaving our tent and possessions at the camp site securely locked away. We parked the bike in the car park, which they had the cheek to charge you for. We walked up to the city walls and went in, the inside was pretty spectacular. The main building itís self was superb, we didnít see all of it but what we did see was very impressive with great views all though the tide was out, again, so we can only imagine how much better it looks with the tide in. After we spent an hour an a half wondering around the city walls (we say city because once you get in thatís exactly what it is) we decided that it was time that we should get going. Once we were back at the bike we met two other on bikes too and they gave us a few handy hints on what route to take through the Pyrenees and some other roads that we would appreciate. When we got back to the camp site we pulled up next to the tent and I noticed that the door was open, I automatically panicked and as soon as the bike came to a stand still I jumped off to investigate, thankfully nothing was missing, even though it was all locked up they still had access to the panniers, they may not be able to get into them but they would be able to take them. We were on the road again by 11am, heading for Rennes and wanted to be in Nantes by lunch time.
Le Mont St Michael
The journey was a good one today the roads were pretty quiet as it was a Sunday and the scenery was great too, we headed from Rennes to Nantes via La Roche for fuel and it would be a day for us if we didnít get lost and boy we did.
Not only did we get lost, the weather was hitting about 30 degrees without a cool breeze. This was without a doubt the hottest day either of us had had for about 3 years. Again we got lost, we had taken a wrong turn and wasnít on the road that I thought we were on, in fact we were on the right road, we were just heading in the wrong direction. (that may have been my fault.) We passed through a little village called Lucon so we stopped for little while to try and cool down. We both liked the look of the village and wondered if there was a camp site in the near by area. No such luck, we pulled all our hot sweaty gear back on and got onto the road one more time.
So off we trot after consulting the Sat nav to another little village called la Tranche sur mer, we were both relieved when we saw from the street signs that there was a camp site and headed in the direction of the camp site. We Stayed at The Cobra 2 star camp site after the municipal campsite reception was closed. 17.94 euros !!!! No toilet paper. Putting the tent up, I managed to force it so hard into its slot that it actually snapped, oops. We fixed it with Gaffer tape and we will see how long it will hold for. We made dinner and then did another thin down of our stuff, we came to realise that we were carrying way too much weight and if we wanted to stay on a budget we would have to get food from supermarkets and at the moment there wasnít much room in the panniers, so we said goodbye to about half a pannier. Including a pair of jeans a couple of tops and pair of shoes and a few other things. We went off to bed happy with the decisions we had made.
Day 5 - 15/06/09
We slept pretty well until the heavens opened. It rained through most of the night and again in the morning, although it did stop long enough to get everything on the bike and almost ready to go or so we thought. Just as we were about the take the tent down, down it poured one more time and all we could do was sit in the tent and wait for it to stop. Eventually it stopped, we took the tent down as quickly as we could put the rest of the things on to the bike and off we went, waving goodbye to the very expensive campsite. We had decided to head for the south of Bordeaux and find a campsite somewhere around there.
Along the way we stopped in McDonalds in Saintes to use the free wifi (all McDonalds have free wifi in France) and went also went to Super U to stock up on food as our Tesco supplies where starting to run low. Surprise, surprise we got very lost trying to bypass Bordeaux and ended up riding to the coast towards Carcans. Not going south at all and but back up north. We were too far in the wrong direction but it was getting too late to turn around and come back. So we kept going until we could find a camp site. After seeing some tents from the side of the road we stopped and asked the people if they knew where a camp site was. Just prior to this stop I had a hissy fit about getting lost and the apparent lack of camping sites. Lots of pony parks and other totally useless things (to us) but no campsites.
We got directed to Brach and a possible site. When we got there we found it almost completely empty except for two rather dodgy looking types, showing a bit of interest in us. We where not gong to stick around until an English couple drove in and parked next to us. They soon offered us dinner and of course we accepted. They were a lovely couple from Chester that own a caravan on the site and had been going to there for 7 years. Dinner was great and we chatted till the small hours of the following morning, after having such and long and stressful day we had decided that we should get to bed. We thanked them for a lovely meal and off we went next door to our tent.
Day 6 - 16/06/09
Got up at normal time and packed up the castle, we said our goodbyes to John and Anne. The lady that owned the site had still not tuned up so we left with out paying armed with how to bypass Bordeaux easily. The weather was now gradually getting hotter and hotter and our textile bike pants were sticking to our legs so Jo decided to wear her Hornee bike jeans for the first time on the trip.
On our way out of the camp site our new found friends had told us of a couple of places to visit if we were interested. One of them was Europe's largest sand dune at Arcachon. So off we headed in that general direction. It took us a little while to find it, yeah yeah funny I know, How can you miss a giant sand dune? Well we did but we eventually found it, we paid 1.50 to park and walk up it. It was pretty cool and the views form the top were amazing. After the previous days fun we decided that a short day on the bike was in order and headed for St Jean de Luz. This also let us say in France for one more day and night. We managed to ride through a really cool thunder storm and stopped under a bridge to put on our water proofs and jumpers. We arrived in St Jean around 6 and after riding up the odd foot path, we found a 2 star beach campsite just outside St Jean de Luz. 17 Euros, with a great view of the Pyrenees. We Setup camp and had bolognaise with pasta. Very nice if we do say so our selves. We watched a beautiful sunset and retired quite early for the crossing of Pyrenees and on to Papolma the next day.
Europe's Biggest Sand Dune
The Beautiful Sunset
Posted by Rob Mott at 02:00 PM
Back in France
Day 17 - 27/06/09
Day 18 28/06/09 ok so after a couple of beers we had a great nights sleep, we were up reasonably early, (well early for us) and were ready to head off to the Verdon Gorge. The roads seemed to be pretty good but as they were very up and down and twisty it took us a lot longer than expected to get there. In fact it took us a day longer. It felt like we had done a lot miles but we had hardly covered any. Oh well maybe tomorrow will prove to be a better day for riding. We put our faith in the GPS and let it guide us through the fantastic roads. For once the GPS seemed to have got it right. We found a camp site that was open, being a Sunday always a bit hit and miss. The receptionist was very nice and very helpful. Although the camp site was open nothing else was. Lucky we had already bought our dinner. The day was very uneventful and so was the evening so we went to bed pretty early still recovering from our full day in Barcelona.
Day 19 29/06/09
Today we were finally going to make it to the Verdon gorge. The roads were still very twisty but the views were amazing. We continued to follow the GPS until we could see the signs for the Gorge. We had spotted a few campsites along the way so we had no worries there. The day was reasonably hot but we kept going until we got there and decided to take the full road to the gorge first to have a look and to then come back to find a camp site. Thankfully the petrol light came on and we turned back, I was glad of this because all I wanted to do was to get off the bike I was feeling a little sore and I had the start of a migraine. Not very pleasant with a helmet on. We turned around and made our way back to the petrol station and then on to one of the camp sites we had previously seen reasonably close to the gorge. We set up camp as usual and sat in the sun for a while. The clouds started to slowly creep up on us while we were washing our clothes and about half an hour after hanging them out on our home made clothes line the heavens opened and the storm began it lasted for quite a while. We found a small break in the rain and headed for shelter to make our dinner. That seemed to be all we could do until the rain stopped. And it didnít and neither did the storm, there was amazing rainbows though.
Nice huh !
Even better when the clouds clear.
Day 20 30/06/09
Well the rain finally gave up, we didnít hear it though as we were sound asleep when it did. As soon as we got up we put all our still wet clothes back on the washing line and had to hope and pray that they would all dry in two and a half hours. Today was a slow day not only did we have to wait for the washing to dry we had to find the nearest village for the cash machine. The village wasnít that far away and it was a very pleasant. It was quite small, on the side of a steep hill which made it eventful turning around the bike on one way streets (donít ask why I was turning on a way street) with an audience of the shop owners and a very bemused looking police man. We just smiled politely and headed on our way. We finally found the cash machine, to only find that it was not available for another ten French minutes, so we had a little walk around. We eventually got our money and headed back to the camp site as it was nearing check out time.
We packed, paid and left headed for the gorge. The road was amazing and the views were breath taking. Although it looked like we were getting further away from the water at the bottom of gorge. We came to a village and a map so we decided to stop for a little break as the temperature was being to rise rather quickly. Studying the map for a little while, we thought that we couldnít get to the bottom from this route and decided to turn around and go back and find the right way to the gorge. We made it eventually, even if a little longer than it should have been. Again it was amazing, I keep saying it because I canít find the words to describe it. You will see for your selves the beauty of it from the photos. We parked the bike and headed down to the water.
The Verdon Gorge
Jo, Me & the Divvy at the waters edge.
Day 21 01/07/09
As the GPS seemed to help the day before we put our trust in it again and found what we thought was a municipal campsite and off we went. The scenery along the way was stunning to say the least twist after twist, rock walls giving way to tree lined hills and back again. The roads and drivers on the other hand were a little less than desired. When I wasnít dodging front wheel sized pot holes and loose chunks of road, I was getting a little too close for comfort to the rock wall to avoid being squashed by the oncoming traffic.
We rounded a corner at a very reasonable speed and meet a very nice French lady coming directly at us. Although I could have stopped but I rightly or wrongly choose to try and move out of her way (as far right as possible) the end result is in the photo below. The pannier very gently kissed the rock wall between us and the 20 meter drop down to the river. The sound and the surprise that accompanied it was far worse than the actual damage. We stopped soon after to have a look and no less than 10 seconds later a giant tour bus came around the corner with no room to spare. Lucky us !
The gorgeous country side continued and all was well until a GPS guided detour down a farm lane, a front end slide and the discovery that we had asked the GPS to take us to a church not a campsite. About an hour later we rolled into a campsite near a big dam which had itís own pizza restaurant and bar. Unfortunately it decided to pee down just as we were setting up our tent but on the plus side it stopped soon after.
Posted by Rob Mott at 02:06 PM