Ile de re

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.

Looking north towards the river channel
Looking south, the direction we were heading
Here this was the bike lane, as wide as the car lane.

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.

An old fortification

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.

Her helmet is on her luggage. Very useful in an accident 🙈

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.

Tony liked this car

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.

Approaching the bridge. Cars pay a toll.
Looking back up the bridge as we descended
The view from the Island

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.

Getting my feet wet in the Atlantic. I quite like this photo.

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…..

Yes, that’s our bedroom. Tony has since rearranged them as that is his side of the bed 😝😝

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 😊

Beaune to Bourbon Lancy

A late breakfast saw us pacing our room waiting, waiting, waiting. Not so much because we were hungry but more because we were keen to get moving, particularly with the forecasted 85% chance of a wet bum.

It was a nice breakfast and were alone bar the young lady ‘serving’ and watching, as she had no one else to look after. I was very conscious to try and chew politely and noted no bananas would make it into our front bags today for mid morning snacks.

We grabbed our bikes from the locked garage some 50 metres down the street and hit the cobbles, slowly. It was a messy few km getting out of town but within a few km we were on a busy arterial road for quite a few km. However we turned off and entered a series of agricultural use roads in between various vineyards.

Proudly displaying my Trek badging as a Trek ambassador, with a lovely backdrop.

The vineyards were a hive of activity. There were workers walking up and down looking at their plants and agricultural machinery tilling the soil.

There were many of these vehicles on the road, which were really only one lane wide, so we would pull over so they could roar past.

Tony needed to find a loo, so we turned off into a village, found this little abode that may have been open for coffee? That is our preferred currency. Buy a coffee, use a loo.

They let him use the loo, but we could find no coffee! Freebie!

Back onto a wider road from the village, the vineyards had high stone walls. These walls would be maybe eight foot high.

This was randomly placed at an intersection. Whimsical.

Pretty villages dotted the area. it was really scenic and pleasant riding.

We left the vineyard are and headed back to canals! Another sign, but the main reason I included this is the bum shot…of my bike rear and jacket!

When riding we have limited storage space. My jersey pockets here have a smaller drink bottle I filled for additional liquid ( but too small to firmly sit in my second drink holder) and my gilet. By now it was 24 C and I was too warm, so off it came.

You can also see my rear luggage. Inside that black bag is my spare cycling gear, cold weather gear, toiletries and medicine, and casual clothes. Strapped to the top are my over booties that go over my cycling shoes if it rains heaps, plus my casual sandals.

The yellow dingle dangle thingy is something Tony made. As we ride, it flies around, hopefully grabbing the attention of drivers behind us.

I also have a Garmin radar on the back of my bag. It picks up cars a fair distance back, and alerts me with a loud beep, that also shows up on my bike computer.

A holiday boat moving down a canal. I think that kind of holiday would drive me bonkers, as it would take so long to move between all the locks.

I like the photo below in this village. I suspect that the Tour de France has been through previously. Note the markings on the road with the bike symbol. Bike riders are treated with heaps of respect in France. They are well catered for. Many people ride. It is great to see so many older men and women on their bikes, baguettes in the front basket.

A nice church we passed in a busy town. We got caught at red lights, out came the camera.

Another tree lined bike path

We rode through the village of Perrecy-les-Forges and found a nice place to stop, that just happened to have a boulangerie over the road. Salad bagel with chicken for lunch.

Our lunch spot

It is pretty great when you take a photo and the name of the town is in the photo!

Neuvy Grandchamp

Riding wise, we did get a little wet but not for long. There were two heavy showers that passed and the rain jackets came off.

We had our first dose of hills today too, more so in the second half of the ride. According to our Hammerhead Karoo bike computer, the longest was a 1.6 km climb at 3.8%. There were quite a few shorter steeper pinches but it kept us honest and added variety.

We need a few of these kind of days to get ready for the latter part of our odyssey where there will be plenty of hills.

After 115 km we arrived in Bourbon Lancy, a town with a medieval centre and history, as well as famous for its thermal spa.

Stolen, but pretty as.

We are staying a few km out from centre ville, adjacent to a lake. Bourbon Lancy is adjacent to the Loire, but we arrived in from the opposite side, so that we will note tomorrow.

On the map above you can see the river mapped below our finish (the black and white circle).

Question of the day – is from Alain, a Zwift pal who joins my Brekky and Brunch rides that I lead. He asked about the bike storage, how do I organise it.

The answer….a lot of research and communication. Once I complete mapping an overall trip concept, I then break it down into day by day maps, looking at where accomodation is available in towns that generally hold some interest.

I then look at various reviews, seeing if mention has been made of bike storage.

I make a booking, but I also write to each place advising that we will have two bicycles that need to be stored safely, and to please advise if this is an issue.

So far this trip, each place has had a specific locked area for bikes.

Other trips, I have been in charge of the debating team in a country where the language is other than my own. Generally, they either have somewhere or allow them in your room. I have never lost a debate.

I had one great discussion in Salzburg where the guy said to put them in their garage ( that was open 24/7), and that no one had stolen his bike. How much is your bike worth I ask? Very proudly, he said….250 euro. I cough, then I tell him what ours are worth…..he then says ‘would you like to take them to your room?😊

In areas where there are ski resorts, they use the ski room that is not in use. Others luggage rooms, or locked storage areas.

Ok folks, that’s it. I need some sleep as breakfast is at….wait for it….6 am! We also have a longer day ride tomorrow.

Take care, smile on 😊

Beaune

Breakfast was an hour later today – they cannot do it before 7 am ‘as the bread won’t be ready’. We pushed our luck and rocked up at 6.55 am. The bread was ready.

Upon leaving Besancon it was a slow crawl for the first two kilometres. Cobbles, traffic, pushing our bike across pedestrian crossings and then the fluvial tunnel.

Built around 1880 it is some 390 metres in length and runs underneath the citadel. It provides a very handy short cut from one side of Le Doubs to the other, remembering that Besancon is on a horseshoe bend of the river.

It was a crawl as there was a queue. Runners, cyclists, walkers. Once out the other side it was shady and a cool 8c. It was not going to stay that way.

If you are a keen walker, you can head to Canterbury in England via Francigena, an old historic trail.

One last look back up the hill to the citadel.

Following a mixture of the canal, Doubs and Saone rivers today there were many nice vistas. I love the old fortifications high up on hills.

The canal of the Rhine and Rhone came to an abrupt halt here, with a water turning circle, and tunnel going under the hill. I later checked maps, and on the other side of the hill there is another canal that joins le Doubs. There is a walking path through.

Peaceful waterways continued.

I’ve seen more canal locks on this trip than ever before. Many have a little house nearby where in earlier years, a lock keeper would have resided.

Tony fancied this bike, or was it the red shoe?

Shortly thereafter we detoured from our route into a village and found the smallest boulangerie ever. We made do😊.

Sitting and eating this was our view.

This was our bikes view

Wheat dominated agricultural crops today,

There has been a distinct lack of loos on EV6, but today, we found one. A hole in the ground for males and females. Got to love that splash back! Interesting rock cliff adjacent.

We enjoyed the shaded areas. The heat had picked up and for most of the day it was 28c. That is pretty hot for Tasmanians riding. My preferred riding temperature is 10-20c.

We were heading in a southern direction overall, despite our river meanderings. As the day went on a southerly picked up. It did make riding a tougher ask but ever so enjoyable in cooling us down.

We rode around the edge of Dole along the rivers edge. The Notre Dame church dominates the skyline. it was constructed in the 16th century.

A closer look, with the picture frame located a little further along the rivers edge.

I mentioned yesterday the Euro Velo signage. Here is a different one, advising what villages are ahead. There is mess on the sign, being fresh grass cuttings!

We had crossed paths today with two older blokes on e bikes, who had stayed at our accomodation. We tried saying hi but they ignored us.

During the day we saw these guys multiple times and they gave us nothing! We dubbed them, the two cranky old French farts.

Shortly after our last sighting we came across these green things. We had no idea what we were catching. They reminded me of linen vehicles that zip around larger resorts.

We did overtake them although as you can see there is not much room on their left, so we needed to give them a shout. They were pedalling these contraptions and we assume given their pace, they were electric pedal power assisted.

Damparis

We crossed over the bridge below heading into Damparis. We saw the two cranky old French farts. We got a half wave…things were improving. We kept going. They were sitting outside a boulangerie but we headed to the local supermache and grabbed basic supplies including a banana and water.

As we headed back to the river we were surprised the two cranky old French farts were still there. This time, they stood up and waved! We made it! We need to rename them!

Alas, we have not seen them since as we left Euro Velo 6 heading country and towards our next destination of Beaune.

The last 40 km was a bit of a slog into the headwind and it was seriously warm. Village after village in a predominantly rural area.

Our route into Beaune was excellent and minimal traffic. The last km was slow as we were riding on my least favoured surface, cobbles. The bike shakes despite the big tyres!

Todays route is below. We are now in the capital of the Burgundy wine growing region (so I read, despite not seeing one vineyard today).

There was a site in Beaune I was looking forward to seeing and it was the Hospices de Beaune or Hotel Dieu de Beaune, a former charitable almshouse, founded in 1443 as a hospital for the poor.

The original hospital building still exists and is regarded as one of the best examples of Burgundy architecture.

I did the self guided tour whilst Tony sat in the shade outside. It is quite extensive with 26 points of interest.

The courtyard from the entrance
The courtyard looking towards the entrance
The beautifully tiled roof
The Great Hall of the Poor where there is a line of beds down both sides
In the kitchen, I quite liked the tap!
The pharmacy had hundreds of original product bottles lining the walls

We wandered around looking for a dinner spot noting some other buildings.

I liked the paintings on this hotel
More nice ties

Then we stumbled across the Notre Dame de Beaune basilica where construction started in the 12th century.

It was seriously very cool inside offering great refuge from the heat.

The view from the rear
Another curious building

So we had dinner, wandered back and oh look, whose washing could that be?

Our room was upgraded to a suite. Those two windows are in our bedroom, but I am in a room typing this blog to the right, where we have a lounge room, and a second bathroom with the tiniest walk in shower ever.

Tony kindly being the point of reference for shower size relativity

124 km done and dusted today, 356 km in the first three days. There is an 85% chance of us getting a wet bum tomorrow as thunderstorms and rain is forecast.

Breakfast here does not start until 8 am! The look on my face must have been something as the guy said “well not before 7.45” so 7.45 it is!

Maybe the bread takes even longer to cook here!! Given we will be awake and up and about by 5.30 am it will be a long few hours….no access to our bike to get it ready either.

So until tomorrow, Ooroo and smile on 😊

What a beautiful day to ride in France

Today rates as an excellent cycle touring day. The weather was brilliant, the route fantastic, and we both felt really good.

Charlie (Trek Checkpoint SL7) and I are bonding and I’m nailing my gear changes and changing from big to small chainrings far more intuitively today.

The route today continued to follow the EuroVelo 6, which is well signposted plus has occasional interpretive panels, per below

Taken today, I am pointing out where we were at.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, I need to wind the clock back.

When we arrive at accomodation touring, once we have secured the bikes we want to know only a few things. The wifi code and most importantly, what time breakfast is!

Our hotel this morning has breakfast between 6 am and 10 am. 6 am on the knocker we presented, ready and eager. We were first there. We often are!

It was a great breakfast spread – a quality offering with a range of cold meats and cheeses, wide range of breads and pastries, a few hot food choices, yoghurts, fruits, mueslis and coffee!!

I thought this was cute – it was a lemon favoured yoghurt

The weather forecast was for another warm day. I took the next photo seated at our table looking out the window.

We retraced our route into Montbeliard to head out. It was about 730 when we left, and the city was reasonably quiet.

Looking back towards Montbeliard as we crossed the canal.

We followed the canal ( du Rhone et Rhine) for some time, then this was interspersed with le Doubs (River).

The following photos are the canal and show the serenity. It was a beautiful time to be riding. The temperature was 9C, the air crisp and clean.

This is one of my favourite photos today. It was a magnificent wooden boat, well cared for, and what a reflection.

At around 30 km stopped at L’Isle on the banks of le Doubs. Coffee and …, well it was a boulangerie…read between the lines!

This photo is looking across le Doubs, and in fact, we rode down that side of the river shortly thereafter. The river was clear and seemingly clean.

What a wonderful bike path. We only encountered one section of gravel today in a section that was being prepared to seal. It is great to see the continuing upgrade of one of the most popular EuroVelo routes.

The further we followed le Doubs, the cliffs around started to increase in height.

Around a bend and we arrived in Laissey. We saw a bar with seating outside being used by cyclists, so figured we should stop. We had a light lunch of the most beautifully light quiche.

An advantage of stopping at places such as this is that you can use their toilets, plus they happily fill your bidons with cold water.

Where we had lunch in Laissey
Over the road was this war memorial.

We descended from Laissey heading back to le Doubsand passed this old car.

This is Tony’s favourite photo today, with the tree canopy and river. i am taking the opportunity to grab my bidon.

From the same spot, looking back up,the river at a canal boat. The couple had a few bikes on board.

One of our last river views before arriving into Besancon.

Besancon is located in a horshoe section of Le Doubs. It is dominated by this old citadel that was built from 1678 to 1771. It has had a variety of uses over the years, saddest being German occupation during WWII and the site where they exterminated 100 or so locals.

Today it is a peaceful place housing a number of museums and a zoo. The first photo below Tony took as we neared Besancon.

The second photo is borrowed, and shows how extensive the fortification is.

Arriving at our accomodation our bikes were stored away securely then it was time to hit the shower and wash our kit. This is a Yaxley ( and touring cyclists in general I guess) to be inventive in how to dry your clothes.

Many accomodation places have those useless coat hangers with no hook. Tony has cable tied them to the railing to access the sun. Within a few hours all clothes were dry.

Time to start walking! We wandered around with no particular aim, no map, no phone and hoping we would find our accomodation ok.

Some photos from our meandering walk.

St John’s cathedral, with parts dating back to the 9th century.
Street view
Saint Madeleine church – very cold inside, built mid 1700’s.
Looking up the river towards Saint Madeleine church.
Revolution Square
Tour de la Pelote, an old fortification.

Day 2 has been completed. A shorter day but solid enough with 95 km ridden. Our route is below.

Well as the day winds down we have had our dinner and will chill and relax and sleep soon ready for tomorrow.

We have very much enjoyed today. The route rates highly and can recommend it to any touring cyclist.

Thanks for reading,

Ooroo – smile on 😊