Having said grateful farewells to our Warm Shower hosts Katherine and Lauren, we headed down to Lucon and then off on another cross country oddessy. Navigating the smaller roads still provides challenges. Relating names or numbers on the map to what appears on road signs, and if the Garmin, GPS device is playing, cross checking with that to determine the direction of travel. Also our start point from each town isn't always easy to determine which makes tying up the map to a route difficult. Asking local passers by can be illuminating, especially if their first look is one of incomprehension before enthusiastically telling us to go in a completely different direction..... Our trajectory out of towns and villages often involves a couple circuits of the 'centre ville' before finding to signs that point us on our way.
The landscape for the morning of our ride takes us across very flat plains of the Marais with canals and ditches of water and long straight roads unbending into the far distance.
The Garmin GPS says we should turn right here!
We picked a small town on the map as our destination, anticipating a campsite, cafe, maybe a restaurant... There was a campsite, by a quiet stretch of river, but the town, Tonnay Boutonne was devoid of almost any signs of life, and the one person we did meet we ended up meeting three times. Maybe there isn't anyone else........
The next morning we head south again aiming for the coast of the Gironde estuary. We circle east of Rochefort and pass through Saintes, a town with a Roman history. The sun shines briefly on us here as we have a picnic lunch in a park, before reverting to the low grey clouds and chilly wind that have been with us all morning.
We stick to minor roads and pass through any number of small villages, often devoid of people and also lacking opportunities for a coffee stop. Around 5pm we reach the coast, find a place of a coffee and then track down a campsite , one of the few that is open, and it has hot showers.
Can we stay here?
A cold night but the sun shines in the morning the sky is clear and the wind has dropped. The route down the estuary towards Bordeaux is flat and the cycling conditions are perfect. The vineyards are just coming in to leaf and there is a real feel of Spring. By late morning it is even warm enough to delayer some of the clothing.
Wine country, I wonder if I can get this on my bike?
For lunch, we spot a 'Rotisserie' van and buy a roast chicken and some bread which we hungrily devour. The GPS does well today and guides us around the built up areas and main roads to get us to our destination. We are heading just east of Boradeaux to stay with friends (Martine and Stephen Batchelor) for a couple of nights, which will include a rest day.