The view out the window revealed it had rained overnight. The sky was quite grey.
We were first down to breakfast yet again. Surprise. The French news channel was on the tv, and we listened (or rather watched) the weather and we thought we might just be ok, particularly apres midi (after noon).
Our route out of Les Sables d’Alonne was surprisingly good for a busy city. Within a few km we were riding along the ocean boulevard with minimal people or cars around.
The tide was much higher, and the beach looked nicer.
We were then on a series of crushed gravel paths winding around the coastline.
As with yesterday, we rode through areas of the famous Marais also referred to as Green Venice. It is an area of marshland covering 45,000 hectares. It is part of the ancient Bay of Brittany which was once speckled with islands. Only one island remains.
The first drainage ditches in the marshlands were dug by the Romans as early as the 1st century and these were expanded upon by the Benedictine monks from the XI to XIII centuries.
As a result of the building of the digues (dikes) the canals that control and allow sea water to enter the marshes, oyster farming is prolific and a major contributor to the regional economy.
Ecologically it is a haven for a huge variety of wildlife, and of course, walking and cycling trails.
I have enlarged part of todays route showing you one small section we rode through.
Lush growth abounds, and there were a variety of stock held including sheep and donkeys.
We were following a variety of routes as can be seen from the sign, but one also named King Richard Coeur de lion. He was better known as Richard the Lionheart, son of my Eleanor of Aquitaine. He lived in the area for many years (Tailmont) also close to where Eleanor was born.
Passing by this garden we could not help but to smile at the keen gardeners attempt to keep birds away. They were all moving wildly as the wind had picked up.
We had a bit of fun with the lady below, and her partner. He is ahead of the guy on the right. We first met them on a narrow forest trail. She is on an e-bike and had entered the trail and we were climbing a small rise. When we saw her behind us on an ebike we pulled over to let her pass as she was trying really hard and her partner was ahead.
We stopped and waited a bit, had a drink and something to eat so she could clear out. However, we caught them quickly. We stopped again but caught them.
By this time, she and her partner were riding side by side, and they had no interest in letting us pass. They were well aware we were there as we noted their cadence lift. We were all doing 25 kmh.
So we sat right behind them. We could not pass as they would not move into single file. They had upped their cadence significantly again and her body was swaying from side to side. She would not last long. Her partner was trying to get her to go faster.
We just sat and waited…..
Then there was a sealed road section. We just upped the pace to 30 kmh and cruised past, as I said ‘ G’day’ 😊. We kept the pace up for a few km and laughed. Kept us entertained 🙈😝
Then we stopped at a boulangerie.
We sat on the wall overlooking this inlet. It looked like the sand had just been groomed.
More of the Marais Marshland and a lock.
Pretty flowering crops.
Our destination today was Ile de Re, an island off the Atlantic coast near La Rochelle. It is an Island about 30 km long and 5 km wide.
In history, it was once three islands, but with silting over time, they became one. The Islands became English when Eleanor became Queen of England but King Henry III (her grandson) returned them to France.
In 1987 a 2.9 km bridge was built connecting the island to the mainland. We rode across that bridge today. It was challenging as the last 40 km of our ride we had a driving headwind.
Some kite surfing on the northern shore. Once we crossed the bridge, we still had 28 km to ride. The wind was awful by now and we were hoping it will stay the same for tomorrow to aid us off the island. You can guarantee it will turn!!
The church in the village off Ars de Re.
We are staying in a cabin park tonight. Cheapest accomodation of our trip at $89 but quite satisfactory. It is clean and functional with a huge bonus I will reveal shortly.
We went for a walk to the nearest beach, out the back gate. We were told to follow the blue paint on trees.
There was no clear path and the blue paint was like a scavenger hunt.
We started to wonder if we were on the wrong path when we saw the barbed wire and French military signage.
Then there was this bunker. Subsequent research revealed the Germans realised the strategic positioning of the island and occupied it during WWII and build many bunkers.
Finally we made it to the beach, a bit of a slog over sand dunes. Cycling is far easier.
Back to the park and I noted a bit of Australia. Callistemons flowering (bottlebrush). Lots of hire bikes available.
The big bonus. The park has bike racks outside each room however guess where our bikes are?? A picture tells a thousand words…..
Day 12 done and dusted. I do feel better today only having cramps for a few hours. We have done 133 km today, and nearly 1500 km for the trip so far.
We have reached our most westerly and ( nearly) southerly point and tomorrow we start our next lap across France at a lower latitude.
Thanks for reading. Stay safe, smile on 😊