To Aubeterre-Sur-Dronne - Three Seasons Around France: Autumn - CycleBlaze

September 26, 2022

To Aubeterre-Sur-Dronne

It’s cold and foggy this morning, as cold as we’ve seen so far this fall.  It’s a little surprising that we’ve shifted fairly far to the south since leaving Saint-Malo and it seems at least as cold here as up there even though we’re still not far above sea level.  At dinner tonight I’ll break out my long pants for the first time since spring. 

Today’s ride is technically a twin with yesterday’s - 27 miles with about 2,000’ of elevation gained in short, undemanding rollers.  We can’t check in at our destination until 3, so we stay in our hotel room keeping warm until out 11 AM checkout.  Four hours will be plenty for getting through today’s ride, even taking our time.

As we leave town I take a shot up the lane toward the church, to see if it looks as grayish-white during the day as it did at twilight.  It does.

Barbezieux looks as monochromatic today as it did at twilight last night.
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Unlike yesterday’s ride, today’s is away from the rivers the whole way.  We’re following a route I made up myself, on what look like empty paved farm roads nearly the entire way.  RideWithGPS recommends an apparently marked bike route, but comparing to the one I’ve come up with I like the looks of mine better.  Hopefully I won’t live to regret it when we come to some unpleasant surprise along the way.

For the first seven or eight miles we generally gain elevation, passing first through the outskirts of Barbezieux and its smaller neighbors and then entering the open, cultivated landscape that will surround us for most of the ride.  It’s quite lovely in a calm but undramatic way as we pass broad acreages covered with shorn corn stalks or fields almost barren, exposing the stony ground.  When we come to a break I joke with Rachael about how exciting it is to be back in dramatic gorge country.

Approaching Salles-de-Barbezieux.
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Two windows, Salles-de-Barbezieux.
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We’re in the corn belt, after the harvest.
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Almost eerily beautiful. It looks like they’re growing rocks here. I ask our host Greta about this this later in the day and she says that the other predominant drops here are sunflowers and canola. If so, this must be stunning in season.
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En route to somewhere.
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Three focused horses.
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Oh, and grapes. There are vineyards scattered around. So green still but they must be just about to start turning color.
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Keith AdamsSo tidy, too.
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2 months ago
Berneuil has the same architectural style we found in Barbezieux.
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Topiary and flower pots, Berneuil.
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Stopping off for a few loaves at the bread distributor, Berneuil.
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A stony farmhouse, near Berneuil.
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Beyond Berneuil a fine ride evolves into a stunning one.  The sun starts breaking through, a favorable tailwind gathers strength, and we roll our way through a fantastic landscape that makes us both think of last winter’s spectacular rides around Paso Robles.  The excellent road we’re on is empty, but all along we pass other equally enticing paved roads that branch off in either direction.

With these riding conditions we could make better time than we do, but there’s no hurry.  We stop often to admire the views, and a few miles from the end we stop to sit in an empty field to take lunch.

A shed, out standing in its field.
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Patrick O'HaraCue crying trombone music! Wha wha wha waaaaaa.
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2 months ago
Horse chestnuts.
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Yellow flowers, unidentified for the moment.
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Rich FrasierCrucus Flavus, Yellow Fall Crocus. Beautiful!
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Rich FrasierOh, good! I was hoping someone was going to help us out here. Thanks!
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2 months ago
Our road, should we choose to take it. Other options would work as well.
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I’m sure this is all incredibly gorgeous when it’s green or yellow, but it’s fine like this too.
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Corn and poplars.
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Mesmerizing country, reminding us of Paso Robles or the Palouse. Thinking way further back, riding through Nebraska’s Sand Hills forty years ago comes to mind.
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Kathleen ClassenPaso Robles! Thanks again for directing us there. I see the resemblance.
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2 months ago
Nearing Aubeterre-sur-Dronne.
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Dropping in to Montboyer.
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A window, Montboyer.
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Farmhouse with dovecot. I really like these exposed stone walls here.
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Suzanne GibsonAn unusual dovecote, I've never sent one like that before.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Suzanne GibsonWhich probably means it’s not actually a dovecot. What do I know?
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2 months ago
Suzanne GibsonTo Scott AndersonOh, I never thought of that.
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2 months ago

Video sound track: Adrift, by Yasmin Williams

We arrive at Aubeterre-sur-Dronne about fifteen or twenty minutes early, and after stopping to take in our first view we drop quite steeply through the scenic village (one of the declared most beautiful villages in France) to our hotel with the thought that maybe we can check in early.  Otherwise we’ll just make ourselves comfortable and look around a bit while we wait.

Our excess time situation is quickly resolved for us though when we discover that our track is incorrect.  At one point we were booked to stay at the Hotel du Perigord, which this map has led us to.  That was before we refigured the plan for the fall though and decided to get down here earlier.  When we rebooked this place was unavailable, and I apparently forgot to update the track.  Our place, a B&B, is of course back up at the top end of the town we just coasted steeply down through.

By the time we make it back up to our B&B, our time’s up.  The bell from the clock tower is just tolling the hour as we pull up to the gate.

Aubeterre-sur-Dronne, un Plus Beaux Village de France, is obviously worth a look - and we’ve got the time this afternoon to look.  Which we will after resting up a bit, and which we’ll show you in good time.

Aubeterre-sur-Dronne.
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Ride stats today: 27 miles, 2,100’; for the tour: 352 miles, 24,100’

Today's ride: 27 miles (43 km)
Total: 354 miles (570 km)

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