Grissolles to Valence d’Agen - Retyrement on 2 Wheels 2 - CycleBlaze

June 9, 2018

Grissolles to Valence d’Agen

Canals and Kiwis, an abbey torn asunder and the storm of a lifetime.

June 9 Saturday 61kms

Grissolles to Valence d’Agen

Canals and Kiwis, an abbey torn asunder and the storm of a lifetime.

Chat to American neighbours- he rides a Surly but is not at all surly and she is on a recumbent. Never quite sure about those bikes myself- I don’t fancy staring up at massive truck wheels as they thunder by at eye level. They ask to take our photo and then are off. We spot them a couple of times during the day and note they are carrying chairs!

Our pain au raisin breakfast and filtered coffee sets us up well for a day hurtling along beside the canal, spotting prettily festooned ecluse houses, barges and boats.

Breakfast complement.
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Dutch woman on this barge gave me the lowdown on turtles. Slightly chaotic upper deck but pretty- the barge.
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Ecluse as a view.
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One of these is unmistakably Kiwi, draped as it is in silver fern flags and I call out to the occupants lounging on deck. They are emphatic about an AB’s crushing win. There are signs that rugby is played locally, in fact we cycled past a game in action, but more attention is focused on Le football and Russia.

Mid afternoon in the heat of the day, we cycle into Moissac, one of the Camino stages- Ann spots a woman in the church tending her sunburned feet. The Benedictine and Cluniac Abbey of St Pierre is a massively dramatic building of sandstone which dominates the main square. There is a flowery garden for pilgrims to gather their thoughts and strength nearby. Many carry a staff and have a scallop shell hanging jauntily from their pack.

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Moissac
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14th century polychromes.
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As a sign of the power of progress, there is a description of the way the railway line split the abbey cloister asunder in 1840, by running directly through the line of the cloister. An economic decision- priorities may or may not be different today.

The abbey of two halves.
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The interior of the basilica, is large in size but plainly adorned with some painted plaster statues- 14th century polychromes. 

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At Valence d’Agen we follow the signs to camping and before we can discover the municipal camping on the green sward just around the corner, we turn into a small but tres modeste campsite run by ‘Monsieur Bonhomie’ - a farmer whose pride is a beautiful, cream coloured Swiss cow. He charges the princely sum of €6 for all the amenities (at least 3 Ts) then runs a power cable with 4 charging ports through the hedge- all this and great wifi too- voila!

Hedge through which our electric cable was passed. I wrapped the connection in a plastic bag and in view of the later deluge was pleased I did.
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Modern dairy practices probably work against such close relationships.
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The hour before sunset as we dine on pasta and porc. The heat of the sun is intense but it later clouds over as a preliminary to the most violent thunderstorm either of us has ever experienced. 

‘Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow! You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout.’ King Lear says it all. The lightning is s unremitting, like one of those faulty fluorescent tubes blinking on and off continuously for two hours and the thunder is  ear splittingly loud. All this while we huddle in our oh so insubstantial seeming shelter beneath. When the wind begins  to blow (hurricane!?) we put on our rain gear and pack our bags inside the tent, in the expectation of .... what exactly? Then, just as suddenly the wind disappears  and the storm  slowly begins to abate, moving on to terrify other unfortunates. Learily we drift off to sleep.

Today's ride: 61 km (38 miles)
Total: 826 km (513 miles)

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