Luçon to camping site 19/08
After leaving Luçon I once more turned my wheels southward, getting back on the canal, lazily making my way under a hot sun and blue skies, and the French countryside sliding by. Beautiful riding it was too, as it was inland it was deserted, just the fish in the canals, the birds in the skies and me, riding by.
Arrived in La Rochelle in the early afternoon and decided not to linger long. Back out on the coast I continued on my way.
Found one of favourite camp sites of the trip – out in the middle of nowhere. I also clocked up a milestone of KM´s, 1000km I think it was and treated myself to a swim in the pool and to a wee bottle ´o Bordeaux with some fresh veg for the pot.
Camping site to Rochefort (20/08)
Maybe it was the wine the previous evening, or the summer heat, but I was feeling very lazy the next day and when I arrived in Rochefort I decided to chill another day and as they had a municipal camp ground, it was perfect to charge batteries, wash some clothes and service the bike. As I had time to kill I asked around about possible cycle paths heading inland and was told about a new route heading east, inland, out to Cognac, named “Velo Flo”. I was sold upon hearing Cognac, dip me in Cognac and throw me to the cigar puffing wolves.
Rochefort to Saintes (21/08)
Best decision ever. Under the baking sun the empty, deserted Velo Flo headed East, following the beautiful, tree lined Charente river, flowing lazily with cool, clear water and ample opportunity to stop and swim. Loved it.
Saintes to Cognac (22/08)
The beautiful Velo Flo continued to charm that day as I made my way to Cognac. Met one guy on a bike – Tomas, a German guy on his holidays riding to Germany and we shared some tea and stories in the shade.
The river continued to surprise with beautiful little beaches to swim and hidden beach bars where I partook in a cheeky beer which nearly knocked me out!
I got to Cognac and found the municipal camp site down on the river. Set my camp up and rode over to Martell and bought a tour. It was just 3 of us doing the tour and we were shown how Martell makes its famous Cognac. It turns out that they don´t make the Cognac there anymore due to city restrictions or something but was interesting nonetheless. I didn´t realise that the vineyards surrounding the place were primarily for Cognac. The tour ended with macaroons and 2 different Martell cognac´s – XO and Cordon Blu, and we were shown how to drink it. Very smooth stuff and we took our time savouring the drink. We then headed up to the new sky bar that had opened on the roof, had a cocktail and watched the sun set over the Martell estate.
Cognac to Baines (23/08)
Continued on the Velo Flo before hitting the EV3 route and turned south once more. Another hot day, plenty of swimming, easy riding, mostly flat but starting to find rolling hills again. Another municipal campsite and met a nice family who came over to chat when they saw me arrive on the bike. We exchanged contact details and they offered to host me should I ever be in Brittany in the future, really nice.
Decided to leave the fly sheet off the tent that night and got woken by rain drops! Ha! Quickly covered the tent and went back to sleep listening to rather than feeling the rain!
Baines to Villegouge (24/08)
Slow start while I lay my tent out in the morning sun to dry. After leaving town the EV3 route signs disappeared completely and I was soon bundu bashing and getting a bit lost. Another beautiful day´s riding though, amazing weather riding through the vineyards and past huge, majestic Chateau´s. The Champagne grape region.
Again struck gold with a very remote camp site. A French family, originally from Paris, who bought this beautiful piece of land and now live full time on the property. The house is up on a small hill and the pasture below the house is where I camped under huge, tall trees. The family invited me for drinks, I went up in the evening and we chatted on the veranda in the warm summer air.
I decided to stay another night and spent the next day doing some laundry and shopping. There was a little kitchen area I could use so I bought some meat and slow cooked a nice stew as a little rest day treat.
Villegouge to Bordeaux (26/08)
Bordeaux wasn´t far so it didn´t take long to get there. Found the municipal campsite on the outskirts of town and setup camp there. Turned out the football stadium was a few minutes walk and there was a home game on so walked over and bought a ticket for the game – Bordeaux vs Monaco. Got a seat right up front next to the Ultra´s section and they were in loud voice the whole game – driven on by two guys on podiums at the front with loudspeakers and starting the tunes. Was pretty cool.
Spent the next day in Bordeaux being a tourist.