Day Seventy Nine: Clecy to Ouistreham - Grampies Go On Their Knees - CycleBlaze

June 14, 2017

Day Seventy Nine: Clecy to Ouistreham

The B&B lady was true to her word, and had fresh croissants and baguette ready to go before 7. Even though we know that at home we would highly prize these breads, it seems kind of futile for her husband to have driven out 10 km to retrieve them for us. Mainly, just bread (any bread), jam, and coffee/hot chocolate is not enough to power a cycle tour. So we would have to supplement soon anyway.

The lady had a photo of the B&B house from the old days, and she confirmed it was taken in 1908. At that time the building was the city hall. It was in 1970 that the place was renovated, and another section added, she said. The lady added that she had been born in this house. It was her mother that had done the renovation.

I also noticed a copy of that painting of the bridge hanging on the wall. for some reason the bridge has been the subject of both paintings and photography. I went and added my own photo to the world's supply.

My "take" on the Pont du Vey
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Our B&B in 1908
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It turned out that we did not cross the bridge but instead turned the other way, into Clecy, due to a detour in the bike route. The detour eventually brought us to a road closed ahead sign, which presumably was for the benefit of cars, since we were already on our own cycle route detour. It was confusing, and we were standing right by D562, which we knew went straight to our next town, Thury-Harcourt. Traffic was a bit heavy, but there was a shoulder, so we hopped on.

Everything was swell for about 2 km, when the shoulder disappeared and the innocent D road became a four lane highway with a 110 km speed limit. We got off the bikes and walked them on the white line, with us in the grass. Damn.

D562, a bit of a shakey experience!
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At Thury was the beginning of a perfect and quite new route verte rail trail. This zipped us 20 km straight to Caen. What a relief!

The start of the wonderful Voie Verte
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On the Voie Verte.
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This houses has the Orne in the back and the Voie Verte in front - a good buy!
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There were quite a few of these former station houses, now private residences
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Velo Rail looks like a fun idea. Not sure how the one lady intended to power the two passengers.
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Lots of kids were out on the Voie Verte. Little ones were often just erratic, but teenagers were trouble - speeding and hogging the path. I took to moving to the centre and forcing them to slow down and move over.
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Caen worked well for us as well. Similar to Tours, it had some provision for bikes on every street. Even if this was only a bicycle symbol painted on the road, it still gave us some moral authority for being there when bullied by motorists.

Caen was mostly destroyed in the war. We did not spot much that looked old and interesting.
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William the conquerer's castle we think. That could be interesting, but we were poeple on another mission.
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This man found us when we first hit town and offered directions. Later, after we had been to the TI we ran into him again. First time he spoke to us in English, second time in French. A very gentle man - we liked him.
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Just took this Caen tram because I know Trish's blog has one.
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Although there appeared to be a bikeway directly to Juno Beach, the TI advised us to take the Voie Verte to Ouiestreham, and to follow the coast west from there.

That route had us following the Orne to where it enters the Channel. Consequently we passed by the Pegasus Bridge.

On the night before the D Day landing there was a need to gain control of certain bridges and protect them and to blow up others. This bridge, just a short distance from the coast at Ouistreham, was to be protected. British paratroopers came in on gliders to do this. Many gliders had to crash land, but in fact the bridge was saved. The winged horse Pegasus was the emblem of the 6th British Airborne Division, who landed in Horsa gliders.

The house standing by the bridge has a sign on it identifying it as the first house liberated in France. It is currently a well attended cafe.

Beside the cafe, for some reason, was a platoon of French marines. Seeing soldiers here definitely added to the historical feel. These soldiers, though, first took pictures of each other in front of the cafe. Later, they properly and authentically marched over the bridge.

The corner where the bridge is located was very active and colourful, with the cafe, another restaurant, soldiers, tourists, school groups, and two heavily loaded touring cyclists (other than us!).

The cyclists we Alain and Odile, from Nantes. They were pretty darn serious, now being engaged in following the coast eastward and then descending to Strasbourg. From there they will go to Basel, down to Arles, across to the Atlantic, and back up to Nantes. That's kind of par for the course, but we learned they had also swarmed all over the Camino, with various routes including from Portugal. As always, it was inspirational talking to fellow long distance travellers. They must have felt the same, because they delighted in taking a group photo on their cell phone.

On the way to Ouistreham - the river can be fun.
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This defaced roadside poster still shows what we were up to. You can see Caen and Ouistreham, plus Courselles, where the Canadian Juno Beach is.
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The Pegasus Bridge
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The cafe at the Pegasus Bridge
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A plaque on the cafe
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Someone offered to take this photo
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French soldiers as tourists now at the Pegasus Bridge
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The soldiers looking a little more official.
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Alain and Odile. The bike of each had front and back pannieers and a large rack bag. Serious!
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Ouistreham was just down the way. We did not get much appreciation of what it is all about, because we spied a hotel boldly advertising a 39 euro price. Though still quite early, it was hot and we decided to go for it. The hotel is called L'Ecailler. We went through the usual dance with the desk man about were to put the bikes and when they could be sprung in the morning. This time, our request to leave early worked to our advantage as the man had us put the bikes in the petit dejeuner room, on the promise that we would be gone before anyone else was trying to either set up or eat. Fine!

Despite the low price, the hotel room is the same as any other, and is just fine. We have to do a bit of planning about times, because we are likely to arrive at the Juno Beach memorial before it opens, and we need to decide when and how to pass by Bayeux and Arromanches. Bayeux has a museum containing the Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts events leading to the Norman conquest (1066, and all that). Arromanches has a museum recreating the D Day landings and recommended to us in the Guestbook.

As we are about to enter this very significant and still emotional part of France, it gives us accasion to reflect on France, on Germany, on the US, as well as on Canada. Of these, Germany must be the most changed since that dramatic first half of the twentieth century. It has now ostensibly become the leader of the "free world", a place that extends a helping hand to refugees, and one where historic diligence continues to produce high quality products. In front of the TI three ladies approached us with the Usual Questions. In turn we asked them where they were from: Frankfurt, Freiburg,and Stuttgart. We had had great experiences in each of these places. The people there have long long since ceased being "the enemy". I wondered what the ladies think as tourists in this place, but I did not get the chance to ask them.

By contrast, the Americans and to some extent British are now gearing up for a role as "rogue states". Their roles here seventy years ago, like that of the Germans, is overtaken by current events. But with them, things are not going so well.

Only the Canadians, we think, were great then and are great now. It's not surprising we should come to that conclusion I guess! But what other country has a leader that looks as good with their shirt off? Oh, maybe France with Macron?

Today's ride: 61 km (38 miles)
Total: 3,893 km (2,418 miles)

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