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Entries about bergerac

Sarlat to Bergerac, rest, to Arcachon

finishing one adventure, revving up for the next

above route shown on map traveled by train

Thursday 26th Sept 13 (day 26)

Waking up in a soft bed we were grateful we did not tent last night as it rained. We had a task to get all our stuff back in bike panniers and bags to carry on the bike.

I walked down the shop to get baguette and cheese for breakfast which we ate before loading Sofia and Fonsi up, paid the bill and again thanked the owner for letting us leave our bikes and bags with them for a week. They did not charge for this which was a bonus.

We only have 6.5 km to ride to Sarlat train station but after sitting in a canoe for a week our hearts soon knew what it was like to work again, and the relaxed lazy legs were feeling it also. It's warm again today, but a little cloudy - nice riding weather. The distance took us less than an hour. We stopped at supermarket for lunch supplies which we ate at the train station. Had some time to kill there at the train does not leave for Bergerac until 15.09.

Waiting around the couple of hours for the train is actually more exhausting than doing something physical. We had lunch in the station room and then went and sat outside on the platform to wait for the train to open. Our actual train had already arrived but so was sitting there waiting for a few hours also.

Just 5 minutes before departure were we able to load our bikes and bags - this had to be done separately as the panniers need to be removed from the bikes so they can be hung - the bikes not the bags. We sat and enjoyed the hour and a bit train journey crossing over the rain bridge where our canoe trip ended just yesterday. Onward to Bergerac.

We are spending the next two nights back with Jean and Christine our couch surfing hosts from 2 weeks ago. We only just met Christine today as she was away last time. An easy ride from the station through town, across the river to the familiar street. Wow we are almost local, we know our way around here.

The day was still warm and we spent the next couple of hours sitting outside on the terrace enjoying the late afternoon sunshine. Jean even went for a swim in the pool but it was still too chilly for me. Christine cooked a lovely dinner of cep mushrooms (local delicacy that Jean's son Matthew had collected from the nearby woods) omelet, green salad and finished off with cheese. Oh so French - love it.

Tomorrow we need to do some washing, fix the bloody air bed (or buy a new one), do some minor repairs/adjustments to Sofia and Fonsi; all in preparation for our next cycling adventure.

Dry, warm bed for tonight again. Weather tomorrow is supposed to be fine, but there is rain forecast for the weekend, hope we travel far enough to miss it.


Friday 27th Sept 13 (day 27)

Another beautiful sunny day in Bergerac. We did absolutely bugger all today except sit out on the terrace and enjoy the sunshine. Tell a lie we (or at least the washing machine) did a load of washing which we hung on the fence to dry.

Just before lunch we had a visitor, young bloke Elliot who is wanting to move to Australia in November. His father is a Kiwi so he has a Kiwi passport but he just wanted to ask us a few questions. Think we talked Aussie up enough as he seemed super keen by the time he had left - good luck to him.

Our host Christine had been to the fish market this morning so we had yummy sardines cooked on the bbq for lunch.

Late afternoon Jean drove us to the supermarket and we bought quails to have for dinner again. Very nice. Jean's son Matthew and his girlfriend came round for dinner. Matthew had been out at crack of dawn collecting cep mushrooms again and these were a perfect complement to our roast quails as was the pan fried potatoes cooked in duck fat. OMG how good is the food - finished off with some amazing cheese - very enjoyable evening.

It seems all we did was eat today and I guess that pretty much sums it up. Perfect day all round really.

Oh Lyn did have another go at fixing the flat bed. We got some superglue from the supermarket and used that to attach the patch. This seems to have worked better but we will tell in the morning after we have left it overnight and give it a pump up. If not it will be in the bin and a quick trip to Decathlon will purchase another air bed.

Tomorrow we catch the train to the Atlantic Coast - unfortunately the weather forecast is for rain , but who knows we may have some luck up our sleeves.

We have had a great time in France so far, which is thanks to our lovely hosts who opened their home and lives to us. This is the real way to experience a country - with it's people.


Saturday 28th Sept 13 (day 28)

Woke up to a cloudy overcast day, not a good sign but it may get better.

We spent the morning reloading our pannier bags and before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye to Christine and Jean and ride Sofia and Fonsi to the train station. It had rained a little in the morning but not enough for us to put on rain poncho and we still were wearing t-shirt and shorts.

20 minutes later we were at the Bergerac train station and I was waiting in line to purchase tickets to Arcachon - a town on the Atlantic Coast and our destination for the next few days. There was a line up and it took almost 25 minutes to get a ticket. The lady behind the counter was helpful and I had no problem purchasing tickets this time. Only a short wait and then the train arrived. Many people were getting in at Bergerac to we had to be quick to get the bikes and bags on after they had all got on and moved out of the way.

Bike hung and bags stored, we took a seat and watched the scenic landscape pass by out the window. The trip from Bergerac to Bordeaux took just over one & a half hours and most of the scenery we saw out the window were grape vines for as far as the eye could see. Not surprising since this is one of Frances major wine producing areas. As we headed closer to the west coast the sky looked a little like it was clearing. A one hour wait and a change of trains in Bordeaux and the weather there was clear and hot.

The train ride from Bordeaux to Arcachon took only 50 minutes and the weather changed dramatically during this time. Suddenly the train windows were being pelted with heavy rainfall and we could see lightening strikes and hear thunder. Oh shit, not a good sign as we had planned on camping tonight. However, by the time we arrived at our station and had to disembark the train, we had passed the bad weather and it was dry. Still cloudy overhead, but did not look like we would encounter a fierce storm. :-)

The tourist office was just down the street where I received a map that showed us the way to the campground. Looked like the weather was going to co-operate so we decided it would still be ok to camp. On this occasion the campground was not close to the waters edge as you would imagine but up on a hill in a forest area. Nice setting but the uphill was murder pushing the bikes. Reaching the reception we were panting and the lady behind the counter recognised the out of breathiness we were experiencing. You are on a bike - she smiled.

We were given a camp site and chose the one next to it instead - looked flatter. Set up the tent, drank a bottle of white wine that we had with us and was still cool enough to drink. Had to have it now as it was not going to get any cooler, the wine that it. That done, and as it was only around 5ish we decided to head back into town to have a look around - this time taking the short cut track. On the way down we accidentally came across an old belvedere (a lookout tower for those not in the know). 75 steps up a spiral staircase to the top which was 25 meters high. We had a quick look up there but could not linger as the old structure could only take 8 people at a time.

Arcachon is obviously a touristy town, which sits on the shores of the Arcachon Basin. Lots of big grand old houses in the streets off the shore front which is now lined with ugly modern looking hotels. It really has a holiday destination atmosphere. There were still a few people around but I imagine in summer this place would be packed. The beach looked nice - sandy and very big and clean. Yep, bet it buzzes here in summer.
We walked along the boulevard until light rain had us running for cover under a tree. Didn't last long and then we stumbled across a supermarket just before its 7.30 closing time. We bought some fresh supplies for dinner - spag bol tonight, made with some very odd mince we bought at the market, and started the walk back up to the campground.

Rain did not interrupt the el fresco cooking of dinner (which somehow Lyn conned me into doing) and it was still dry even after we had showered and retired to the tent. Yippee a good sign. Also the temp seems to be a bit warmer here.


Posted by Cindy Bruin 02:02 Archived in France Tagged bergerac arcachon Comments (4)

2013 SEPT FRANCE - BERGERAC - it's French

the creation of FONSI and SOFIA

sunny 25 °C


Tuesday 10th Sept 13 (day 10)

This morning we woke to sunny part blue skies. Looking out the window down river there was thick fog which made it impossible to see the far bank. Also looking over the bridge towards the city the high steeple of the church was also hidden by the fog, however the river was calm which made for a perfect reflection of Bergerac's wonderful bridge on the waters surface.

Our mission for today was to get the acquisition of bikes organised. Jean had some errands to run and said he would check out the bikes his friend had told him about and assess them for worthiness, we would also drive out to Decathalon Sports Store to compare the price of new bikes.

We had a lazy morning, sitting outside in the garden when the sun was not hidden by the overhead clouds. The weather forecast for today is for rain, and although pretty cloudy I don't think we will get any of the wet stuff today. It seems way to lovely enjoying the sun for the thought of rain to maybe happen.

On Jean's return he informed us that the bikes his friend had recommended were in no way suitable for our needs. They must have been real wreaks as he laughed as he told us he did not know what his friend must be thinking. So, on to plan B, we drove out to Decathalon. Here they had lovely shiny new bikes that were perfect for our requirements in every way except the price. 180 euros ($220) each. This is way over our budget so on to plan C - mmm did we have a plan C? Didn't matter that we didn't have a plan C as our very generous host Jean was already formulating a plan C in his mind.

On the way home a quick stop at the supermarket to purchase lunch and dinner supplies. As the day was still beautiful it was decided we would have a bbq lunch of pork chops - one of my personal favourites and then for dinner I spied some cute little quails in the deli window. At 2 euro ($3) each these could not be resisted.

Back at home with the charcoal bbq sizzling our chops, Jean told us about his plan C. He already had a operational bike that would be suitable and he had another the same that could be brought up to operational standard. We were welcome to take these for the cost of the repairs etc. This was a very generous offer and we were happy to accept. Hardest part would be to try and organise the return of the bikes to Bergerac. But, a friend is part of a bike association here in Bergerac and is sure there is one near the end of our bike journey where we would be able to leave the bikes and their return to Bergerac could be arranged later. Wow, what amazingly generous people we have met, remember these people did / do not know us from a bar of soap. We only just met yesterday! it's just great the help they are offering us.

After a very enjoyable lunch of bbq pork chops sitting outside in the garden, Jean went off to repair the 2nd bike and Lyn & I continued to enjoy the sunshine. Although forecasted, the rain did not come at all and in the afternoon we took a walk into town to find the tourist office. Not very helpful I was hoping to get a map of the area. We continued our walk along the river to the local campground just to check out what facilities are like in a French campground. All looked ok, lots of motor homes and caravans from other European countries who's climate is not as enjoyable this time of year. There was even a couple of tents set up under trees on grassy patches. If this was the average standard it looked alright and we worked out the price would be approx 15 euro ($22) per night for 2 adults, 1 tent & 2 bikes.

2 minutes after we arrive back home, Jean returned also with the 2nd bike sporting 2 new tyres and a few other little components. Fabulous we now have wheels.

Tonight dinner was oven roasted quails - omg so yummy. And of course wine and more cheese.


Another fabulous day in Bergerac.

Wednesday 11th Sept 13 (day 11)

How happy was I to wake up and see blue sky and sunshine. There was no fog this morning - looked like the makings of a beautiful day.

After a leisurely breakfast, which consisted of a baguette that Lyn had walked around the corner to get fresh at the bakery, we decided to take our new bikes for a test ride. We needed to go to the train station to check out a train to our next destination. First, I said we needed to give our bikes a name. Jean has this habit of naming all his beloved vehicles so I thought it only apt to do the same for the vehicles he had arranged for us. Lyn's choice for her bike was SOFIA. This came from the name plate of the last owner which was on the bike. Apparently years ago it was compulsory for owners too have a name plate affixed to their bicycle for identification. And I have named mine FONSI - after the name of the street where we are staying Fonsivade. I have posted photos on FB of our bikes but let me give you a bit of a description. These are not new bikes by any means, to tell the truth they are old wrecks which have been given a new lease of life! It's amazing what new tyres and new chain can do for an old sturdy frame.
As we rode them out the gate, down the lane and across the bridge, these 2 fabulous bikes creaked and moaned and rattled and squeaked like old bomby cars. But this somehow added to the adventure and I instantly fell in love with my new mode of transport and the adventure it was about to take me on. I hope to god Lyn felt the same way about her new stead as these bikes have a long journey ahead to fulfil.

The train station was straight up the main road only about 1km away so we had no problem finding it. The problem was however had when I approached the ticket counter to try and get some information from the 'lovely French lady' behind the glass. As usual my first question is 'do you speak English?' Now I know I am in their country and it is very arrogant of me to assume they speak my language, but I am not trying to be rude or presumptuous - I just want to know what level of charades and hand signal language I need to adapt to acquire the information I need. Well this 'lovely French lady' was having none of it and every question I asked her including ''do you speak English" was answered with a strong NOI!!! accompanied by a palm up, talk to the hand gesture, in my face hand signal. Ok, so I did end up with a little inkling of the fact that there were no trains that we could take the bikes on that were going to the town we wanted. Unsure of my interpretation of 'lovely French lady's' answers we decided to go down to the tourist office to seek further assistance. Tourist office said it should be no problem to get a train to the town of choice with bikes. So who to believe??

Off we rode and came upon the local market which we had a stroll around. We were actually looking for handle bar baskets for our bikes, but alas there were not any bike parts stalls. Stopping at a supermarket for lunch supplies we rode back home as we had arranged to meet with Jean for lunch back at the house. Lunch was consumed out on the terrace as it was perfect out. At this particular time of the day there was not a cloud in the expansive blueness that was the early afternoon sky. Glorious!


Lunch over, Jean looked on the internet after hearing our train station story and discovered that the train track we were to use was under repair and only one very early morning train and one afternoon train was running. The trains scheduled for the rest of the day were being replaced by buses doing the same route. This was not good for us as the buses would not take bikes. As we did not fancy attempting the 7am departing train in the morning it was decided we would go for the 5.30pm train tomorrow. Fingers crossed this train will allow us to take on the bikes. Think we may pay another visit to the station tomorrow morning to make sure.


Still wanting handlebar baskets we had no choice but to go back to Decathlon store to purchase them. The store was only 2km away and it again gave us a chance to test the bikes for any adjustments that may be necessary. Fonsi and Sofia made it there and back without any drama, with both Lyn and I astride them - even though we had to ride on a semi-busy road. We arrived back with new baskets and supplies for dinner which were picked up on the way at the supermarket. More local wine, more cheese - it's a wonderful time.

We had dinner with Matthew, Jean's youngest son, tonight. Nice bloke. He had lived and worked in Melbourne for 2 years and was happy to hear Aussie accents again. It was a very enjoyable evening - great food, great wine, great company - seems to be the French way and to quote a famous Scott - I'm lovin' it!

Weather wise it was perfect today, please Dordogne hold on to this weather for us.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 02:35 Archived in France Tagged bergerac Comments (1)

2013 SEPT FRANCE - HELLO FRANCE! First stop Bergerac

Where is the man with the big nose?

rain 18 °C

Monday 9th Sept 13 (day 9)

We woke up early to a sunny day, looks like Holland is putting on a happy face for our departure. Our bags were packed thanks to a little organisation last night so after we had showered and dressed we headed down stairs to have breakfast. In true backpacker style while enjoying breakfast we made a small sandwich roll to take with us to have at the airport before getting on the plane later.

The bus shuttle to the airport was up next to the train station so we did not have far to walk after checking out of the hotel. Stepping outside into the street although the sun was shining it was still only about 15 degrees so a distinct chill to the air. Passing through the train station I cashed out our transport cards, better we have the 40 euro with us than sitting on a couple of cards we won't be using in the foreseeable future. Arriving at the bus stop we were just in time to get the shuttle bus which was about to depart for the 20 minute drive to the airport. 3 euro ($4.40) each.
We had plenty of time before our flight after checking in our luggage. As we sat waiting for our flight to be called I pondered what the next weeks were going to expose us to. I also had a silent prayer/wish that the weather in the south of France is going to be somewhat dryer and higher on the temperature gauge than it was here in Holland.

Just as our flight was called to board the sky opened up and it started to pour down with rain. So instead of walking the 100 meters to the plane we were ferried in buses which delayed the flight by half an hour. Nice goodbye to Holland flying into wet, turbulent skies.

Flight Rotterdam to Bergerac was only 1 hour 20 minutes and before we knew it we were landing in France. The brief glimpse of the landscape, from the plane, below was very green. Bergerac airport reminded me of someone's garage, just a big tin shed, so pretty basic. We had to wait for the luggage to be unloaded and delivered to the shed, so by this time we were close to an hour late. Not that this mattered except that we were being met by our couch surfing host Jean. I had been exchanging emails with Jean for a few months and he was kind enough to offer his assistance not only as accommodation host but also to help up find and purchase bicycles. All we had to go on was a photo but were assured he would recognise us. Sure enough, Lyn spied an man standing smoking a pipe and eyeballing every passenger as if to search for someone. In true French style, we were both greeted by a kiss on both sides of the face (I dare not write both cheeks!) as Jean introduced himself. Lucky for us he spoke perfectly good French accented English. We found out later his father had been a lawyer holding the bar in France and England and his mother was an English teacher so the children were speaking English from a very early age.
Ironically, as soon as we headed to the car park it started to rain. Bugger, the precipitation had followed us south down from Holland. Jean drove us the short distance from the airport to his home - well actually it is his partners, Christine's home. Unfortunately, Christine is away on the French Riviera playing bridge. The house is amazing, a lovely old restored attached stone cottage. Situated next to the river just over the bridge that led into the old town of Bergerac. Wow it's truly amazing.

First up Jean offered us a beer and instantly we knew we were going to get on ok - we all speak English and we all drink - a great friendship is born.
After sitting around chatting it was time to go to the supermarket and get supplies for dinner. Jean then took us for a quick drive around the town of Bergerac. He told us most of the residents in this area are retired as there is not much industry or jobs for anyone. Of course this is a wine area and that is probably the main source of employment for a lot of locals. There is also a gunpowder factory just outside Bergerac which in it's heyday employed 3000 people, but alas not that much call for gunpowder anymore. The factory still operates but only employing 300 people and they make the small explosive devises that set off airbags and seat belts in cars. See it's great staying with a local you get all this inside info.

The weather still had not cleared, still light rain, but Lyn & I decided to go for a short walk into town anyway. We had our trusty rain capes and a little rain would not kill us. We wandered around the old town taking photos (see FB), although after an hour when it still had not dried up we headed home. That was after we found the statue of the famous Cyrano de Bergerac!


Earlier when at the supermarket with Jean we had purchased a bottle of the local wine. The area is well know for its sweet white wine, so yes, you guessed it we are in wine heaven. Monbazillac is the name of a little town and the name of the wine which we sampled and instantly loved. Good choice of areas to visit in France so far!
Jean cooked us a dinner of local sausages and pan fried potatoes and we finished the meal with a magnificent aromatic (aka stinky) soft cheese, called Livrot, which comes from Normady. Y-U-M-M-Y. This may become our staple diet while in this area, sweet white wine and pungent smelling soft cheese - heaven on a stick.


After dinner we sat around chatting again and came to the subject of bicycles. Jean has a friend who fixes and sells 2nd hand bikes - also Jean used to own a bicycle shop here in Bergerac for 6 years so I think we are in pretty good hands. He phoned his friend to see what he might have for us. Of course we could not understand any of the conversation going on but once he had finished Jean explained to us that his friend may have 2 bikes that may be of use to us. However as he continued to explain he said his friend had dumped, yes dumped them on the side of the road somewhere and perhaps they needed a little repair to be of use to us. This was hilarious but they were both quite serious. So it was agreed that tomorrow morning Jean was to go to this dumping spot (he told us he had actually already seen them there and figured it was his friend to left them there) and see if they were salvageable. Another option was Jean's friend was going to loan us his bikes that he had done the same bike trip as we intend on doing. But this option meant that we would have to return the bike here to Bergerac and that would mean doing a huge loop not on the itinerary. But how nice are these people don't even know us and willing to help out so much. I tell you all the bad publicity that the French get is definitely not true - our experience with these locals is nothing but fabulous and generous so far.

Day one in France - loving it - if only the weather would clear.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 02:35 Archived in France Tagged bergerac Comments (2)

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