Royan to Rochefort - Retyrement on 2 Wheels 2 - CycleBlaze

June 16, 2018

Royan to Rochefort

Of Meringues, Marennes, and Marais.


June 16 Saturday  71kms

Royan to Rochefort 

Of Meringues, Marennes, and Marais.

We find the Velodyssee  trail air pump we’d spotted on our walk last night and give our tyres a boost before heading out of Royan.

An early start in Royan.
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Free air - conveniently placed pump at start of trail.
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La Velodyssee- nice to see the sign after reading so much about the route.
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Attractive looking beach but not so pristine. Unsure how long this restriction lasts.
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Saint Palais sur Mer. Another beautiful lighthouse to add to our collection.
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 There is a briskish northerly blowing our way, bringing a coolness to the morning. Stop off at a cafe where All Blacks v France was in progress. The Wellington weather makes us feel warm. The waitresses ate all decked out in French rugby colours but incongruously have little interest in the game.

ABs v France. Game looks in the bag. We are careful not to gloat.
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Very welcoming and dressed for supporting the game, but didn’t have a clue about ‘Le Rugby’.
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Works of art.
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The cycle path, The Velodyssee , which runs from the Spanish border to Nantes, has been almost a straight line till now, but this section has plenty of twist and turns, views of the sea and sights of wonderful old mansions and beach houses. A couple more degrees in temperature and the water would undoubtedly draw us like a  magnet. Beach resorts pass by with hundreds of cottages being readied for the summer influx. Naturism seems well catered for, though the temperature could be a disincentive.

Carrelets- these fishing huts are very picturesque, whether they catch fish or not.
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At Marennes, crossing the Seudre.
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That’s lunch in the pack. We stopped at a convenient oyster seller’s picnic table over the bridge.
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Charging on route. The charge of the bike brigade.
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By lunchtime we are approaching the Marennes (marsh) area. We have cycled the required 20 minutes to find the Super U advertised as 3 minutes away and bought supplies. After crossing the Marennes bridge, about the size and height of the Auckland harbour one, we find d an empty picnique table in front of a ‘ferme’ huitres stall and lunch on baguette and pate de compagne.

The beautiful character of the marais, the marshlands, reveals itself in the mid afternoon light. It is reminiscent of a Constable painting, with flat fields bisected by waterways and churches with high steeples in the distance. Occasionally giant herons rise from the water and we see a huge crane prodding about with its gigantic orange beak.

Beautiful open spaces of marshland.
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Serious solar.
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Athough we divert onto a provisional Velodyssee Route, its bright yellow sign suddenly disappears and we decide to follow the D3 road which takes us towards Rochefort, our goal for the day.

On route we passes through Brouage, an old walled town which is holding a ‘Fete d’histoire’. A number of locals are dressed in 19th century costume and getting up to hanky panky behaviour of an historical bent. The key activity involves the arrest of some poor unfortunate wearing clothing of the French Revolution period, who is dragged through the Main Street by men in a variety of uniforms of a variety of colours making a variety of strange exclamatory noises. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.

Brouage
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A welcome with a difference.
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An arresting situation!
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Another customer for Madame La Guillotine.
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Velo museum.
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The glories of history remain always with us.
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Back on the D3 meanwhile, we eventually hit the cycle route which delivers us to the small ferry boat crossing La Charente. The ferryman sees the ‘ NZ ‘ on my bag and begins  waxing lyrical about his wonderful stay kayaking at Abel Tasman and skiing on the Tasman Glacier. It has clearly made an impression! He also explains about the enormous structure spanning the river and under restoration. Looking like a suspension bridge, it is designed to carry a platform, suspended from above, across the river. 

Charente crossing.
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Our ferry pilot had happy memories of time in NZ.
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Restoration- A novel, and perhaps idiosyncratically French, way to cross a river.
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Having disembarked and started on the cycle path into Rochefort, on the hunt for camping, we almost immediately come across a modern building in the midst of trees, right beside the trail. ‘L’auberge De Jeunesse’ says  the sign, and yes they have  a double room, and yes breakfast is included and it is €50, and yes there is dinner for €11! The young  manageress picks us out as Kiwis despite our impeccable French and explains  that she worked 2 years in Auckland’s Ponsonby in the Turkish Cafe. Perhaps I’d cycled past her on my way to work?

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The auberge had a secure garage for velos.
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Conversations with such people, as well as the English woman and her Suisse partner, from Grenoble, who arrived ‘a velo’  soon after us, a give the opportunity to learn such a lot about France and how people live here. We are  told that one of the tall  ships from Bordeaux, L’ Hermione, will be arriving on the river as the sun comes up tomorrow. We jeunesse may or may not see it.

Today's ride: 71 km (44 miles)
Total: 1,222 km (759 miles)

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