Day Sixty Five: St Vincent sur Jard to Bretignolles Sur Mer - Grampies Go On Their Knees - CycleBlaze

May 31, 2017

Day Sixty Five: St Vincent sur Jard to Bretignolles Sur Mer

I seem to write on many days about how different things look around us in the morning, compared to the night before. I write about it so often because I feel it every day. It can be as simple as different lighting, or more likely it is the different perspective that comes from not being tired and frazzled.

This morning it was not just the appreciation of how beautiful a sea side spot we had landed in, but the recognition that we had been in this very spot, on this very street, three years ago. The hotel that we had almost not found last night was one we had in the past trip cycled right in front of. I probably have a previous photo of it, becausu it is very pretty.

The reason we were right here was that at the end of the short street is the former house of French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau. Georges who? He is just the guy who was P.M. during WW I. we are not sure, politically, what he did. But he was friends with Monet, and together they developed the gardens of the little cottage at the end of this street.

This morning, then, we left what we now see was our beautiful hotel, looked at the beautiful beach and ocean across the street, and drifted down to Clemenceau's place. It was under renovation, so we could not even be tempted to pay the admission fee. But a bust of Clemenceau was visible above the fence, so we at least snapped that, plus the poster illustrating the garden.

We then set off down, yes, Clemenceau street, and could appreciate the fairly identical beach community cottages - all with orange tile roofs, white stucco walls, and usually blue, shutters.

While yesterday this had felt like a services desert, we found services within 3 km. And within 10 km were the even greater services of Jard Sur Mer. Putting this into our own context, a cyclist near our own home would see no services and could call the area a desert. But a large grocery is 4 km in one direction, and a town with a Walmart Super Centre is 15 km the other way. Desert? Well, yes, if you are on a bike, tired, and don't actually quite know where the stuff is.

The Clemenceau house was just a little retirement cottage
Heart 0 Comment 0
The beach in front of our hotel
Heart 0 Comment 0
The bust of Clemenceau, only part of the house currently visible
Heart 0 Comment 0
Our hotel. We scarcely noticed its design last night
Heart 0 Comment 0
Typical beach cottages. This design would be the main one (outside of Sables d'Olonne) for the whole day's ride
Heart 0 Comment 0
Approaching high speed tandem trike
Heart 0 Comment 0
and there they go
Heart 0 Comment 0
cyclists out of London with a Friday tandem directly ordered from Eugene Oregon. They have their two suitcases on board, wth one serving as the trailer. They said the trailer was heavy and unstable. Their desination is frst Hendaye and then Bulgaria. We need to warn them to not go on Canal du Midi with their rig.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Baby cows and their Mom
Heart 0 Comment 0
This tractor driver was trimming grapes. He was driving as fast as on a highway (i.e. too fast!)
Heart 0 Comment 0
This roundabout and houses is a typical scene for us today
Heart 0 Comment 0
Jard sur Mer - lots of services!
Heart 0 Comment 0

Now, using our early morning strength and mental powers, we looked at the map and saw Talmont Saint Hilaire, slightly off route. Talmont is the site of a former chateau of Richard the Lion Hearted (Richard Coeur de Lion).

While Richard was a 12 century character, it was some time around the 16th century that tales of Robin Hood started to mention him as a contemporary and supporter of King Richard the Lionheart, Robin being driven to outlawry, during the misrule of Richard's evil brother John, while Richard was away at the Third Crusade. So that would qualify under this tour's objective of finding myths.

The chateau in Talmont. It looks like a ruin but evidently their is enough intact to be charging admission and holding events
Heart 0 Comment 0
Beside the chateau, the Lionheart bakery - right on!
Heart 0 Comment 0
A scheduled event at the chateau. Notice that it is scheduled for Pentecost. Pentecost is fifty days from Passover, and corresponds to the Jewish holiday of Shevuot. It is believed that on that holiday the holy spirit appeared to the disciples and got them going with spreading the word. It is therefore the birthday of the church. Conveniently 10 days after Ascension, it supplies back to back holiday weekends!
Heart 0 Comment 0

The other thing, though, was that we saw a D road (D979) that led from Talmont to Sable d'Olonne, bypassing the wiggly coastal Velodysee over a fair stretch. After our quick look at the chateau, we set off down that road. But D road travel in France is tricky. sometimes they are ok, but sometimes they are deadly. We quickly identifies this one as too risky to stick with. So we backtracked and found the quickest, safest way back to the coastal path.

D979 was too dangerous and forced us to turn back.
Heart 0 Comment 0
We returned to the sea safe and sound
Heart 0 Comment 0

In due course, though nowhere as fast as if we had been able to stay on the direct road, we arrived at Les Sables d'Olonne. We were not expecting what we found. This was very similar to Biarritz, with a superb curved beach and lots of city sized buildings facing the sea. Yes, it lacked really fancy mansions or pink hotels or big crowds or surfing competitions, but it was in the same general family of exciting beach cities.

The sweep of the bay at Sables d'Olonne - the arrangement is much like Biarritz.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Apartment buildings facing the sea
Heart 0 Comment 0
More nice buildings on the seafront at Sables d'Olonne
Heart 0 Comment 0
A trompe d'oeuil painting high on one building
Heart 0 Comment 0
A harbour at the north end of town was beautiful as well.
Heart 0 Comment 0
All through Sables d'Olonne were outdoor restaurants, souvenir shops, ice cream. Great!
Heart 0 Comment 0

Sables d'Olonne came to an end, with us strangely not stopping for ice cream or a formal lunch. Instead we just found a bench and ate the conservative items we had liberated from the breakfast in the morning. We appreciated Sables d'Olonne, but we felt a need to move on.

There was more fun to come, as we met up again with Jack and Vi. When we sent them on ahead (i.e. let them charge off) we were sure we would meet again. Shortly thereafter, though, a new couple by the trailside said "hi Steve and Dodie" as we approached. Say what? This was Steve and Jan, out of England and making their way back. Steve had fallen off his bike and was patching himself up, when Jack and Vi found them. They primed Steve and Jan with facts about us, to allow them to surprise us whe we showed up.

Today again we encountered many touring cyclists, in both directions. They are an important part of our day - helping to break up the hours and keeping up our level of ecitement over being on this trail, and this tour.

Pushing back up the coast we saw mostly houses like these
Heart 0 Comment 0
... and coastline like this.
Heart 0 Comment 0
Jack and Vi caught us once more!
Heart 0 Comment 0
... and here they go!
Heart 0 Comment 0
Steve and Jan, doing the Velodysee like us, south to north
Heart 0 Comment 0
Steve and Jan
Heart 0 Comment 0
More idyllic cycle path
Heart 0 Comment 0
An oncoming loaded recumbent rider
Heart 0 Comment 0
More typical houses for this coast
Heart 0 Comment 0
And more typical sea views
Heart 0 Comment 0

We are continuing wt wrestle with the quetion of whether to reserve ahead or not. If yes, then you know you have a place, and all you have to do it make it there and then find it! If no, you can look over places as you come to them, but that is asuming you ever spot the possible places. The Velodysee, we know, makes every effort to keep you from spotting services of any kind.

This day we were gambling and had no reservation. So around the right time we did spot one Logis hotel. As is often annoyingly the case in France (and Spain) you could not jsut walk in and talk to reception, but had to ring a buzzer. I did that and did speak to a lady, but she hung up. We were preparing to cycle off when the lady appeared at the door. The price was 99 euros - way too much. When I asked in which general direction other hotels might be found, she was both vague and rude.

The choice for us was whether to stick on the coast or to go inland toward parts deginated "centre ville". Dodie's instinct was for the coast, and sure enough in not too many km we came to a small enclave with a hotel and several restaurants. 59 euros did the trick. And check the view from our large balcony:

The view from our room
Heart 0 Comment 0

*** Camino Reprise Special ***

Way back, on the Camino, we ran into Sara and Marcal. Sara is from Gothenburg, Sweden and Marcal from Barcelona. They met in Barcelona, I think, and lived there for a time. Now they are moving to Sweden.

We met lots of people on the Camino. Some we blogged about, some not. many we remember, many not. But this couple was really special. Both Sara and Marcal were so full of personality, so charming, we could never forget them.

Unlike my blog - as complete as possible, with attention to detail, Marcal just kept a sketchbook, in which he drew his impressions day by day. Now he has posted an equally artistic video of their experience. Check it out. It gives a good, alteernative, idea of what it was like to cycle the Camino. You will also see the Grampies in there with a cameo appearance:

Today's ride: 60 km (37 miles)
Total: 3,012 km (1,870 miles)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 1
Comment on this entry Comment 0