Day Sixty: Lacanau Ocean to Soulac sur Mer - Grampies Go On Their Knees - CycleBlaze

May 26, 2017

Day Sixty: Lacanau Ocean to Soulac sur Mer

Today promised to be really hot again. (It was not that long ago that I was still regretting not having kept the warm gloves!) To beat the heat we got up at 5, and hit the road at 6. First of course we had to make our way out of the giant "campsite". I put that in quotes because almost no one is actually camping here, by the Canadian meaning of the word. Rather, it looks to us like a slum comprised of either permanent "mobile homes" or camping cars. The people are squashed in and will wake to go lie on the beach like seals or maybe lie at the on site swimming pool, like seals.

It's just not our bag. We of course seem to prefer to get up at 5 to slowly crank crank over endless roads. Now, that's fun!

Along the Velodysee, its not really roads that we are slowly cranking along, but dedicated bike path. The authorities got so enthusiastic hereabouts on bike paths that they seems to running in every which direction. We had to use the GPS a fair bit just to keep on the right beautiful track.

We were straightened away and heading for Maubuisson when two long distance riders on a tandem caught up with us. Hello Canadians! they said, or something like that. They were Canadians too! Whats more, they were from British Columbia. Even more, they were from Lanzville, which is about 50 km from our house, on Vancouver Island. So this was Vi(olet) and Jack. We realize now that we did not properly learn about their itinerary, though they were heading for the same town of Soulac and the ferry to Royan, as us. It's amazing that we did fail to gather this information, since we had a great time standing around and talking about - something - for a good long while.

Our talk time was extended when the Dutch couple that had passed us a few times yesterday also pulled up. Now these have done a circle around France very similar to what we have done this time, and they are heading back north. All our chatting seemed to stress reminiscing about routes we all have done in the past. Between us, we have really crawled all over Europe and North America!

We have been wondering/worrying about the current popularity/health of cycle touring, mainly because this crazyguyonabike blog site seems to be lagging a bit. But there is no lack of enthusiam for the Velodysee. Today we probably saw 50 long distance tourists on it. so as we six stood around generally blocking the path, we were not surprised to have two heavily laden, Cappuchino Brown LHTs come down from the north and screech to a halt among us.

We were doubly not surprised because we have been on the lookout for Ken and Judy Nicholson, from Kamloops (British columbia - Canada!). They had contacted us on the Guestbook and reported that they were heading down the Via Francette, which joins the Velodysee at La Rochelle. We first met Ken and Judy at Wallace, Idaho! That is 8000 km away from here. The world can sometimes seem very small!

So now we had eight long distance cyclists standing in the path exchanging stories. We kindly let a few others pass through. One was a German boy who had been cycling in southern Spain and Morocco. It would have been good to talk to him too.

Ken and Judy are going down to the Camino. We are of course eager to follow their progress, but they are not doing a blog. We will try for some email exchanges. The first big question for us is how they will get to St Jean Pied de Port from the vicinity of Bayonne. We think that is quite dangerous, and hope they will take the bus for that bit.

After the hot day yesterday and not much sleep last night it was a real boost to see and talk to all these cyclists. we felt much more energized as we returned to all that crank cranking I was talking about.

One piece of news brought down by Ken and Judy was that they had passed through a market at Montalivet les Bains. That would be perfect for lunch. So when we hit town, we carried on by all the restaurants and sought out the market. It was still in operation, and there even was BBQ chicken. But out in the bright sun Dodie was wilting fast, and even if we bought something we would need to find some deep shade to eat it in.

Instead, we turned back to the town, and cruised the lineup of restaurants - hmmm, too expensive, hmmm whatever these menu items are, they do not seem edible, hmmm pizza - universally bad at beach towns. But finally we fell across one that had either tagines (apricot or candied lemon) or cous cous. A tagine is a stew from Morocco, prepared and served in an earthenware pot. Not only were these excellent, but they were just the sort of thing needed to rebuild strength for the final push through the sun to Soulac.

We added ice cream for desert. Naturally, ice cream is becoming a big diet item as the temperatures remain high. Ice cream quality here is universally high. But the typical cost per scoop is 1.80 to 2.20 euros. I feel like the German price was more like 1.20, but maybe that was in the good old days.

Soulac, when finally we reached it, was a nice surprise. While Lacanau-Ocean had normal dull modern buildings and was overcrowded, Soulac has totally unique multicoloured brick buildings from the Belle Epoque, and we active but not overcrowded.

Also good, the hotel we had landed on the phone styles itself a "hotel de charme", and this is accurate. Our room is charming, and is not only on the ground floor, but opens onto its own patio, which is housing our bikes. This is really the best. It allows us to pack up and leave at any crazy hour we may choose.

Soulac has some other great aspects. First, it is right next to the town of Amelie, which was clearly named for one of the grandkids in Montreal, and which makes us feel good each time we see the name on a signpost. Next, Soulac has a 12th century romanesque basilica with a remarkable story.

The basilica was built by the Benedictines of St Croix - at Bordeaux, and was a very important stopping point in the Santiago pilgrimage. It could also boast visits from various French and English royalty, in the 14th and 15th centuries.

But bizarrely, in the middle of the 17th century the entire village of Soulac was swallowed by the shifting sands. Only the very top of the basilica clock tower remained above the surface. It stayed that way until 1860 when some local church officials, financed by the archbishop of Bordeaux, launched a rescue. The archbishop celebrated the first new mass in the church in 1867.

Walking around, we found a fairly recently installed statue of Santiago the Pilgrim. It is already quite nostalgic to see such a statue!

We ventured out for a further look at the unique brick house style of the town, with each building bearing its name above the doorway. The on the walking street, some crepes and more ice cream. The creperie claims to have been using the same recipe since 1927. We could see why, as they were excellent. The ice cream too, even at 2.20 per "boule".

After the pretty much nightmare of Lacanau-Ocean, today was a dream - with friends met on the road, a town named Amelie, a Santiago church, great crepes and ice cream, and a charming room. Now if I can get some photos into the blog, everthing will be swell!

An early morning backward look at the "camping"
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Tangled bike paths made navigation a challenge
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Peter (from Netherlands) with Jack and Vi from British Columbia
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The famous Cappucino brown LHT's
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Vi and Jack with their tandem
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The Nicholson's have lots of adventure ahead on this trip, as they progress toward Santiago
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Forestry remains a major industry all up this coast
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Long distance cyclists setting off. It is encouraging to feel part of a group like this
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chicken tagines really hit the spot today
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Souvenirs, ice cream, we love it
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Our typical road today
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Example of house/building style at soulac
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The soulac basilica, no longer buried in sand
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Yet another Santiago statue. We have grown used to them
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Walking street at Soulac
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Another Soulac house
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A street in soulac
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The beach, just part of 100-200 km of perfect beach along this coas
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One more Soulac building
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Our hotel "de charme" in Soulac
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Today's ride: 80 km (50 miles)
Total: 2,708 km (1,682 miles)

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