So, off I went again. I gingerly took the tent down but it was OK. The bodge I’d done on it the previous evening had, luckily, held up. I had a quick breakfast and packed up as quick as I could as I knew I had to try to down a few more kilometres today. I was aiming for La Barre de Monts today. Now I was reading the GPS more confidently, and having acquired the Velodysee Map and book which Dominique and family had loaned to me at Redon, I set off towards Pornic.
On arrival in Pornic I found a most beautiful little marina. A big market there on a Sunday and lots of little cafes too. I parked the bike by a high table and popped into a cafe for a coffee. I decided to read my book – Bill Bryson’s Australian adventure one since I needed some light relief. I also messaged my sister, Sharon, letting her know how I was getting on and wondering at this point how far I would go. I was still a bit worried about my tent collapsing and having the odd bout of homesickness. It was such a lovely village I could have sat there drinking coffee and reading ALL day, and did stay longer than intended, but needed to push on a bit.
With the tent being wonky I hoped to find a hostel or gites near to La Barre de Monts which would require a little longer at the other end to locate one. I read a few messages of support on Facebook and continued on my way.
Garry the Garmin had been fairly reliable to this point but around 10km before the bridge over to La Barre de Monts he decided to take me off-roading through some dense grass and scrub! I had no option but to get off the bike and push. This continued for around 3km in the sweltering heat. I got around 1.5km along and considered turning back (having no real way of knowing how much more of the off-roading lay ahead) but decided I should continue. There was some elaborate language coming out as I trudged along this vague trail….think of a Wiltshire ‘Right of Way’ walkers trail that the farmer doesn’t want you to go down and you get the idea! I pushed on and eventually came out on the correct road. It was….a miracle!
NB – Do not take the trail through the wilderness, go round on the lovely smooth roads!
I was soooooo chuffed I decided to stop and reward myself with a massive glass of squash at the restaurant just before the bridge I needed to cross to reach my destination. I sat for around 30 minutes thinking what a ridiculous trail I had come through. In hindsight, I should have seen the trail and then re-routed myself with GPS to take some easier roads….ah well.
As I set off towards the bridge, to my horror, I discovered it had closed for high tide and would not open until tomorrow morning ! There was no-where obvious to stay at this side of the bridge and so I began trundling along a cycle track (full of massive boulders) that looked as though it went to La Barre. A slightly longer route but possible I thought. It was incredibly bumpy and jagged though. I met an older couple coming towards me and asked them if this was the way. They said, in no uncertain terms, I should definitely not go that way. At this, rather desperate point, I decided to just stick to the main roads and go all the way around. I typed in the main towns I could see on my map into the GPS and just got my head down and followed it. I was on main roads a fair bit which wasn’t very pleasant but I could not face any more trails that took me the wrong way or risk a puncture so – it was onto the roads. 15km more than I had planned but it was what it was!
I was spinning along on the tar, being especially wary of trucks and cars since I was now feeling quite weary. I got to Notre Dames de Monts and asked some locals in the centre if there was a hotel or hostel (still worrying about my tent). There was and I headed straight down to the seafront – hooray I though! Unfortunately, when I asked if I could secure my bike (the insurance will not pay out if my bike is nicked and it wasn’t locked up) the lady pointed to an area under the outside stairs with nowhere to lock it and quite exposed. No good. I left feeling a little despondent but then came across a Belgian lady who had overheard my conversation. She said that she was staying in the municipal campsite and it was lovely. She took me up there and showed me where to book in. I got a pitch right next to her and her husband. Managing to lock my bike to the electricity box. I pitched on sand here – hadn’t done that before but it was great. The tent poles were still REALLY wonky but I asked a family across from me if they might have some extra tape I could borrow. Their son, Yohann, who was a similar age to me (bit younger probably) came over and helped me. He and some spare plastic tape which we used and I kept what was left over in case I needed it. It worked and I managed to get the tent to stay up again.
Got washed and then headed down to the takeaway car where I enquired if they had any veggie burgers. The vendor seemed a little confused by this so in the end I opted for a panini full of tomatoes (with no cheese), chips and a small bottle of Cotes du Rhone. Classy! I was knackered but pleased to have done a good days cycling and coped fairly well with the challenges that presented themselves as best I could. A jam packed day if ever there was one!