Castles and vineyards: from the Garonne to the Rhône.

Chasselas festival at Moissac

On Sunday, the 17th of September, we watched the rain slide off the windows of the train as we sped west towards Bordeaux. Whilst the train carried us more or less down the Garonne River, the rain stopped, though the clouds remained. We spent the night in the HI Hostel near the Gare Saint-Jean in Bordeaux. Continue reading

Riding back in history: Languedoc.

On Tuesday, 29 August, we took a moment to visit the old church and cloister at Saint-Lizier, before setting out for Tarascon-sur-Ariège, our destination for that night. 

Cheryl wanted to ride the King’s Highway (D618) over another series of beautiful cols to Tarascon-sur-Ariège, but I saw a major bicycle route on my OSMand software, so when she left me behind on the way to Saint-Girons, I decided to play hooky.  Continue reading

The Pyrénées: crossing rivers and ridges

Having reconnoitered the airport and purchased the bus tickets to get Cheryl and her bike to Bordeaux, on Tuesday, 15 August, I met her flight from Paris. After an initial warm reunion, we stood by the carousel in Baggage Claim until it was clear that neither her bags nor her bicycle were on the aircraft. The Baggage Claim office confirmed that they had been left in Paris, and assured us that they would be delivered the next day. We walked down to the Garonne River and enjoyed an organ recital at the Cathedral.  Continue reading

Brest to Bordeaux: the last solo ride

On Thursday, the last day of July, I struck out across the industrial port of Brest, heading for the Atlantic Coast. After the rain of the last two weeks, the warmth of the sun on my skin and the brilliance of the blue sky felt strange. I was so happy to be riding again. Fortified with breakfast (and a packed lunch) from an artisan boulangerie just before leaving the warehouse district, I followed the Eurovelo 1 bike route down the coast. Continue reading

The Channel Coast: Normandy and the Mont Saint-Michel

Five hours before sunset, Intercity 13032 pulled into the station at Caen. The dark clouds made it feel like dusk as I made my way north on the bike route to the coast. I had picked a hotel a few kilometres out of town, so that I could get well along the coast the next day. It was Wednesday, the 26th of July. Continue reading

The Somme and Seine: Rouen and Chartres

dscn4246.jpgSaturday the 22nd of July, I saddled up and rode to the main train station in Boulogne-sur-Mer. I had not planned to run alongside the Somme, but the tracks followed the swollen river all the way to Amiens. I needed to get off at Saint Roch to change for Rouen, but, mesmerized by the scenery, I almost missed my stop. Continue reading

France: the last frontier

DSCN4173On Wednesday the 19th of July, I lay in my tent at 0500, ready to go back to sleep, when I heard thunder. The storm front predicted for 1300 must be early, I thought. With a little more than four hours of sleep, I decided to break camp not to have to pack a wet tent. While I struggled to wake up and get moving, the storm rumbled over the fields well to the south, and never did rain on me. Continue reading