Today was a day of ups and downs, in both a landscape and successes sense. I decided to leave my lovely little hotel about 10am and went to retrieve my bike from the garage down the road where it was stored over night. A young lad, Marius aged 3ish, decided to come along too. His grandfather was the key holder. We raced along to see who would reach the garage first (young Marius won of course). After I’d loaded the bike I thought it would be a good idea to wipe a little of yesterdays mud and sand off the chain. A very good idea…until the chain slipped off meaning I then had to take everything off the bike again, turn it upside down, fix the chain back on, clean and grease it then reload the bike again. Good start to the day that was! Just one of those things…..
I rolled down the hill to the little boat across to town where I would pick up my route again. 2 chaps I met in the boat queue were interested in what I had been doing and seemed quite impressed. I guess it is quite rare to see a woman travelling alone although I’ve read lots of stories about great journeys that inspirational women have undertaken. The inspiration for my particular first venture on bike was actually a chap called Mark Beaumont (cycled the length of Africa, the whole world…that kindof thing!)
One of the nicest things about travelling alone is the people you get chatting to as you go along. The bike is a great ice breaker (similar to having a dog in that respect!) and it’s good to chat with other folks about what they’re up to. With so much going on in the world at the moment you begin to only see the negative stuff sometimes but when you’re on the road you seem to meet all manner of lovely people.
It was 34C today but felt hotter. I made my way along fairly sandy and gravelly tracks until I finally reached Jard sur Mer. It had been a relatively barren landscape until this point (no villages and not many people) so I was beginning to question if I had missed the village.
As I finally entered the village / town there was a fantastic vibrant market with live Jazz at a cafe in the main street. I bought a couple of bananas, a cucumber (nutritional value??) and found a cafe to sit in for a couple of hours. I ordered another orangina. read my book and charged my appliances with my solar panels (a really good day for solar!). It was so hot I waited as long as I could at the cafe before continuing on. Around 3pm I headed off. You need to be aiming to get to your destination around 5pm if possible. This gives you time to find the campsite, get cleaned up and tent up before dark. It was a lovely cycle along the coast to La Tranche. Quite a lot of tourists here so I decided to head straight for the campsite when I arrived. They were very friendly at the camp and I gingerly set about putting up my tent when – SNAP! The wretched dodgy tent pole had finally snapped and was completely beyond repair. I tried to fix it with yet more tape but it was no use – the thing was busted! I packed it up and wandered back up to reception to tell them I would not be able to camp after all. The lovely receptionists kindly phoned around for me to see if there was a hotel that had a vacancy near to my route and managed to get me into a (slightly pricey) hotel called ‘Hotel de Mer’. After the previous couple of days troubles with the tent I had begun thinking about making my final destination for this leg of the journey La Rochelle. This would be almost exactly half way and I would then be able to spend a little time with my family before heading to Africa in October.
I had planned to go all the way to Hendaye in one trip but with my somewhat unexpected bouts of homesickness, tiredness and now my broken tent it was looking like a good option. Why was I doing the trip? I wasn’t doing it to set any kind of record and really just wanted to improve my fitness and do some camping which I was definitely achieving! The costs of the hotel and then having to find a new tent meant my costs were also rising. I’d had great adventures so far and had learned a lot.
I arrived at the hotel where I was given the most luxurious room which felt very odd! I was filthy so quickly got cleaned up and then walked into La Tranche (a little further than I had expected!) The restaurants by the sea front were all fairly pricey so I ventured into town a little further. I came across a pretty run of the mill place that did pasta arrabiatta so decided that would do nicely. Sitting on the table next to me was a girl (slighty younger than me) and her mum. We had a good chat as we waited to be served. I told them about my tent troubles and asked them if they knew of any hostels or gites in Marans since I planned to stay there the following evening. They did a google search for me but nothing was coming up. I decided to wait and see how I got on – it wouldn’t be much further to La Rochelle anyway.
Back at the hotel later I decided to try and use the hotel computer to book my return travel from La Rochelle. The route I settled on was
- La Rochelle to Nantes TGV (stay in Nantes one evening) – book bike onto this train!
- Nantes – Rennes TER / Rennes – Morlaix TER / Morlaix – Roscoff TER
- Then back on the boat from Roscoff to Plymouth the next day.
TGV – you need to book your bike onto these trains.
TER – these trains have hooks for your bike in many of the carriages and should be no problem.
I did all of the booking in French! so decided that I’d need to double check them when I arrived into La Rochelle.
Tomorrow I would push on to La Rochelle – it would be another 70km kindof day!