Wed 8th May.
La Rochelle and a Dunkel Weiss.
I forgot to mention that the GPS is up and running. In Nantes, I recieved some minimal advice from Garmin that recommended resetting the device by tapping the screen and holding a button. Advice I’d waited two weeks to receive. I can’t help but be repeatedly infuriated with Garmin for so many reasons, but when it works, it is good.
If I completely depended upon it, I would’ve been up shit creek several times over. But then I wouldn’t be much of the adventurer I’m aspiring too.
I headed south through the Poitevin Marsh and as it turns out it wasn’t anything special and wouldn’t have been good for camping after all. I made it to a small town called Marsilly, where despite this being the fourth bank holiday since me being there (really France, four?!?) a few shops were open and I grabbed a coke, water, some bread and a pain au chocolat that had Nutella instead of chocolate. It was okay.
They had giant chocolate chickens in the shop too, I wanted to snap one, but shyness won over. I got out, had breakfast on the street where an old guy approached me and spoke in French with some admiration of the bike and what I assume was my trip, I nodded along hoping I wouldn’t have to explain I was English and have him know that his compliments and enthusiasm would’ve partially gone to waste.
I stormed south to La Rochelle getting there for around 3 o’clock, but it felt later. The city centre was rammed full of tourists, holiday-makers and locals, making it very difficult to get around with people looking around them and not where they’re going.
It was rewarding to have personally connected the north and the west coast of France on the bike. A kind of mini-achievement. The next would be the South coast of France. It stopped at the coast, watched some kids play football and a man flying a large kite almost decapitate a crowd. I ate a cereal bar and left.
At the time, I thought it was Sunday, so many people were out. I forgot it was a bank holiday, coming from the disorientation of touring and camping. Quite often after a day or two, only dipping into towns for short moments, you loose reference of days and dates, the only sense of time being a digital device or the sun. It’s quite nice to loose track, but it can mean being behind schedule when you think you’re not. I’m used to glancing at the sun for the time, as it doesn’t involve stopping or having to get anything out of a bag. It was something me and Alain did when we were out expanding the hives in Liomer.
La Rochelle was pretty, it was just a shame it was full of idiots. I awkwardly manoeuvred through the centre to get some wi-fi at McD’s. By this point I was becoming shamefully reliant on McDonald’s for internet and coffee, seeing as though France doesn’t seem to have discovered takeaway coffee, or publicise wi-fi in any bars or restaurants. McDonald’s has filled this void and unfortunately become a regular visit when going through cities. This tour might as well be a tour of French McDonald’s, as I’ve probably been in as many, as I’ve seen churches or castles.
This time I treated myself to Mcflurry to counter the heat of the day. The service—as it has been in every McDonald’s—was terrible.
I left around 6 o’clock and felt jealous of all the teenagers, hanging out on their days off, going home to beds, showers and fridges. Things I missed.
On the bike and out the city. I love leaving cities on the bike. It starts off busy and slowly filters down, thinning out from buildings, traffic lights and people, replaced by trees, expansive countrysides and the occasional vehicle. On the bike this process takes around 15 minutes, so it’s relatively quick.
I was out and free, hoping to get past Rochefort, what I thought was home to the famous blue cheese, but I was wrong, as the cheese is called ‘Rouqefort’.
I didn’t quite get there due to headwinds, but found I really nice spot. I set up quickly and got down.
This night, I picked up my favourite beer from a supermarket, ‘Franziskiner Dunkel Weiss’ something I’d only ever seen in Berlin, where you can get it, super fresh, for a Euro. Here it wasn’t quite fridge temperature and some of its magic had dropped out on the bike, but it was a good reward for another challenging day.