Nasty Nantes and other navigational technicalities

Up bright and early, looking out the window of our accomodation. I note the boulangerie is closed. We were first to arrive at breakfast. Surprise 😲

Today we rode 122 km. On paper it looked straight forward but it was far from it. I do not think I have ever got on and off my bike, cleat, un cleat, walk crossings, avoid moving people, fast moving traffic, turned left, right, left quite as much as today.

One of the main reasons was the large city of Nantes, Frances sixth largest city with a larger metro population of around one million. We stayed on the southern side of the Loire to try and avoid the worst of it.

Before the Nantes urbanisation, there were some lovely vistas.

Beautiful field of red poppies
Onion farm, with a sign promoting a new cycle path through it

Photos around Nantes were not a priority. We just concentrated on getting in and out of urbanisation as safely as possible. Notwithstanding that, I actually did not spot one interesting thing. It was an ugly conglomeration of industry from todays perspective.

This was looking back at the main bridge between north and south Nantes. What you can’t see is that the traffic is barely moving. Lots of trucks just crawling.

I did do some quick research on Nantes tonight and the older area does have some redeeming qualities and history.

Sadly during WWII the Germans destroyed 2000 buildings and rendered another 6000 unsafe. The city wins awards for it’s innovation.

Some 10 km after the city, things calmed and we joined a canal path. Finally some piece back in nature.

Moi on said canal path

Looking ahead, that bridge is the last one that crosses the Loire before it empties into the Bay of Biscay. I have read reports from riders, mostly saying it is awful to ride across as it is exposed, windy and has a narrow cycle lane.

Here is the bridge to Saint Nazaire as we rode closer. The river has become muddy and quite ugly. Man has stuffed it up. In addition there is significant siltation, part of which I understand is the result of a competition between the incoming tide, and the outflowing Loire.

The incoming tide reaches 30 km up the Loire as far as Nantes.

There are numerous of these fishing jetties and huts, all privately owned. They are maintained to varying standards but the jetties look wonky in many cases. Low tide does not add to the appeal.

Finally we reach the west coast of France. We have successfully completed our second crossing of France laterally, at different latitudes. Our first was in 2016 en route London to Venice, albeit a more direct route.

Time to head south for a few days.

The first highlight was the Serpent of the Sea, an interesting metal sculpture. It is very long (130 m) and was made by Huang Yong Ping in 2012. It is installed in the intertidal zone at Saint Brevin, at the mouth of the Loire ( southern side).

It was low tide when we visited, but at high tide, most of times covered. The intention is that marine fauna and vegetation will invade it over time.

By coincidence, my neighbour Dayle sent me the picture below this morning, courtesy of David Attenborough. At higher water levels and a drone camera, it shows the magnificence of the serpent.

We followed a walking path along the beach. It was very pleasant.

Then there were areas where there was more extensive vegetation verges.

Food options had been scarce today, without deviation. We hung on and shortly after turning south, we found a village, with a boulangerie so we grabbed some lunch and sat under a nice shady tree of the church below. You could just see the ocean. We had ridden just under 100 km at this point.

It was hot again with 34C so we moved onwards. We were only about 28 km from our accomodation.

We rode into Pornic, an interesting town crawling with tourists. This had been our original overnight stop but due to issues with bike storage, I cancelled and moved us further south.

Again, the tide is low, and it is a very muddy river, boats stuck on the mud. You would need to time your boat trips well here.

We are now in the town of Le Bernerie en Retz, boasting a long sandy beach and lagoon. The water is part of the Bay of Biscay, that is part of the Atlantic Ocean.

The beach
Man made lagoon to swim in
Looking south

Our accomodation is nice but we are not happy re the bikes. The owner has insisted they stay in his front yard, adjacent to a 3 foot low fence. He says he has a 300 euro bike and it’s never been touched….I told him the value of mine, his eyes popped. He moved his bike and put ours in his rack, and we have our locks on them. Reality is a two minute job and they would be gone. 🙏

The annoying thing is we have a back deck. They could easily go there as the fence in the backyard is typical of many European homes. It would be about 10 foot tall and solid rock. It would be safe as.

Our little deck

However this guy won’t budge on the issue of our bikes. On breakfast I did score a win. Instead of 8.30 am he agreed to 7.30am.

At that time he will move a pot plant that stands between our deck and their deck and we may move about the back garden. It was stressed, not until the pot plant is moved!

The pot plant barrier 😊

Time to get some shut eye. It’s now 9.30 pm.

Thanks for reading, smile on 😊

2 thoughts on “Nasty Nantes and other navigational technicalities

  1. Alain Breillatt

    Lots of eye popping going on but I don’t think many people appreciate the cost of a proper gravel / endurance bike which is 10-25x the price of the average bike. Or the fact that this is your means of conveyance for the trip and not readily replaceable.

    Love seeing your photos of the Loire, I’ll be visiting many of the same “chateau” villes with my two teenage daughters in June. They unfortunately prefer a more comfortable conveyance so we’ll be driving with A/C.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree re the $ and the assumption that all bikes are cheap…and what’s more, yes our conveyance. If stolen we are stuffed!

      That is lovely you will be visiting and making memories. Can recommend staying at Fontvraud Abbey Hotel and wandering around after the public have left. You can wander until 2 am!!


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