Just back from a week’s cycling in France, where it was very hot. We flew to la Rochelle and followed La Vélodyssée, otherwise known as the Atlantic cycling route or Eurovélo 1, as far south as Hourtin before heading inland to Pauillac in the Médoc. Then we took a train to Bordeaux – fortunately there is a skeleton service on most lines despite the SNCF strike which has been going on for some time – and continued by bike to the bastide town of Créon that same day. The next morning we cycled to St Emillion, which was heaving with tourists, before taking the train to Bergerac. We had a couple of nights there, which meant a well deserved rest day. Finally, yesterday, we visited a hydroelectric barrage on the Dordogne and the dessert wine village of Monbazillac, then pedalled the short distance downhill to Bergerac airport for an evening flight home. My knees will take a day or two to recover but I enjoyed every minute of the trip. Highlights were:
- the transporter bridge across the Charente at Rochefort, the last such bridge in France
- the beautiful empty beaches of the west coast
- the well maintained off-road cycle paths
- Créon’s arcaded main square
- St Emillion – a UNESCO World Heritage site
- pretty Bergerac – there’s more to it than just Cyrano
- and the vineyards, wineries and châteaux of the region.
This year’s Tour de France goes through both Bergerac and Monbazillac. While there are some Tour-related municipal and private-enterprise decorations in evidence, it is nothing compared with Yorkshire where yellow bicycles and bunting have appeared everywhere along the route. This morning I helped a friend hang yet more knitted bunting near her house, which the riders will pass on 5th July. We had a good chuckle about Harrogate Council which has made itself a laughing-stock by taking down knitted bunting in nearby Masham on the grounds that it will damage the lamp posts. The people of Masham don’t much like their council, and it shows in the way they have ensured the story reached the national press.