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Back to Bordeaux - the long way round

why take an hour train when we can cycle 150km to get back to Bordeaux


ferry Arcachon to Cap Ferret, bike the rest

Monday 30th Sept 13 (day 30)

It was a very mild night again last night. We woke about 8.30 and it looked like it had not rained overnight, but a few drops were starting to drop which did not last very long. We had a cooked breakfast with some left over potatoes from last night and eggs - a bit flash for a weekday, but what the hell.

After we put all our stuff together and loaded the bikes it was around 10.30 when we left the campground. We took the short cut track into town but still had to walk it down as the sandy downhill trail needed extra restraint to stop our bikes from just rolling down the hill.
First to the supermarket to buy some supplies for the next few days. We have decided to take the long way back to Bordeaux - 200 km loop instead of the train straight back. Another one of my brilliant ideas so hope it does not turn into another wet and hilly adventure.

2 minutes from the market was the jetty where we were going to catch a ferry from Arcachon to Le Cap Ferret - 30 minutes across the basin. Then ride up the peninsula along the Atlantic Coast then head back inland to Bordeaux, from where we continue east to the Med. It started to rain lightly just before boarding the ferry then got heavier as we made the crossing. We met an Aussie couple also taking bikes on the ferry but just our for a day ride. They had hired a car in England, purchased bikes and a rack and were staying in hotels, so not really on the same comfort or should I say discomfort level as us. Luckily it was not too rough on the boat as one of us is not too good on moving boats in rough seas (not me!). It still rained lightly as we took off to find the bike path but soon cleared up to a beautiful, hot, blue sky day!

The bike path here is fantastic. 85% of it was bitumen pathway and the rest was a sealed surface, so smooth pedalling today. There were a couple of little ups and downs but thankfully we did not do much pushing of Sofia and Fonsi today. You cannot see the ocean from the pathway as it is all through forest which is nice protection from the hot sunshine. We stopped for a picnic lunch (last of that smelly cheese) at Le Grand Crohot, 18km north of Cap Ferret, where Lyn could not resist the opportunity to hang out our wet nickers to dry in the sunshine. A few double takes from drivers passing by, but at least they did dry.

We rode on about another 10km to Le Porge-Ocean where we saw a sign for a camp ground. I went looking but could not find it. There was a park that had a sign which read motorhomes were allowed to park for 24 hours for free so we thought if they can, we can. So tonight we are free camping, next to the dunes on the Atlantic Ocean. We set up the tent, filled it with all our luggage off the bikes, donned our swimming cozzies and headed up over the numerous sand dunes to the ocean. We were determined to have a swim to mark the start of our coast to coast bike ride. I'm not sure how long the west coast of France is but you can guarantee we chose the only stretch that was a nudist beach. Thankfully there were not many people on the beach but the 2 blokes we could see from 100m away definitely were a la natural. So we decided when in Rome .... and did a nudie swim also. This saves Lyn having to try and dry them later on as well. And we were at least 200 m from the nearest person on the beach. It was around 5pm but the sun was still high in the sky and warm but the water was cold. However we did brave it and skinny dipped in the Atlantic Ocean!

As a small reward for this heroic dip and the fact we have no camp fees tonight we shouted ourselves an overpriced drink at a little cafe near the dunes. Cider - 10 euros thank you. Disappointingly, French Cider has a very low alcohol content at 2.5% but it was nice and cold. Cheers to us.

Back to the tent we cooked and ate dinner just before light rain fell at 8pm. Looks like a very early night for us tonight, and it's not even dark yet!

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Tuesday 1st Oct 13 (day 31)

We fell asleep to the thundering sound of the Atlantic Ocean crashing onto the beach at least 100 meters away. The night was almost hot, we did not even need to pull up in our sleeping bags until early morning. And no rain during the night. Of course it did start to shower lightly as we packed up.

A Swiss guy came over to talk to us while we were breaking camp. He is walking the St James pilgrim trail to Santiago and has been at it for a 2 weeks already. I guess he was starved for company as he stayed talking while we loaded up the bikes. Kept telling us we should visit Switzerland.

Showers continued for the first hour of our ride. The path was a little rougher than yesterday but still pretty good. And although the sky stayed overcast all day we did not have much rain. We rode about 12km to get to Lacanau-Ocean which seemed like a ghost town now but again a place that would be packed out in the summer time. Here we stocked up on a few extra food items and took our last look at the Atlantic before heading inland.

Our stop for the night was going to be Lacanau near the Lac de Lacanau but the campground was already closed for the season so we just rode through. Stopped for lunch just outside town and decided we might have to free camp again tonight as there is not likely to be another camp open on the track we are follow. We are riding along an old railway line that they have converted to a bitumen bike track.

18km after leaving the ocean front we were stopped on a little bridge over a little stream having a breather. There was a grass clearing and tiny sandy beach and clear running water so I said to Lyn this looks like a great place for us to free camp tonight. It was only 3pm but who's in a hurry. Our only problem was we did not have any water with us. Problem solved I rode a further 4km to the next village, Saumos, (and 4 km back) and retrieved some fresh water from the water tower, meanwhile Lyn stayed back at camp and took this opportunity to do some washing in the little stream.

On my return less than an hour later, with water, I could see our clothes hanging from the bridge. Now this train track that we are on is quite popular so a steady stream of cyclists were able to view our smalls (and bigs) while cycling by. See the entertainment we provide!

At least we could wash off any left over sea salt from our dip in the ocean yesterday and there are no signs saying camping was not allowed. So that was our day today, time for me to go wash in the stream so if you hear a far off gasp it's me proclaiming the water is chilly! Lyn wrote: There was no gasping only screaming. I did not think the water was that cold but Cindy obviously thought otherwise!!

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Wednesday 2nd Oct 12 (day 32)

We woke just before 9 - obviously all this strenuous exercise is assisting in us being able to sleep 10 - 12 hours every night as we go to bed when it gets dark just after 8. Not that we have completely fitful deep sleep - being woken up quite frequently during the night trying to get comfortable or hearing noises or call of nature. Again last night it was quite mild and we slept to the sound of the trickling stream - hence the call of nature in the middle of the night. Two things went down last night, the air mattress has another puncture (I was the lucky one on it last night) and Lyn's back tyre was flat.

Not long after we were dressed and having breakfast we realised we were pretty much surrounded by various people combing the forrest for mushrooms. Some just looked, other said bon jour and one guy actually came over to the tent and started rabbiting on in French. Of course we could not understand him, but he was very happy and gave us the thumbs up for camping out. He showed us the giant cep mushrooms he had collected, unfortunately did not offer any, gave us a big grin and left. As he passed the washing still hanging on the bridge he gave an extra chuckle and a last good bye wave.

Only after we had packed and loaded everything onto the bikes did we realise that Lyn's tyre had a puncture. I had given all the tyres a little pump up this morning and noticed it was low, but now it was flat. So off with the bags and back tyre and out with the repair kit, which luckily we had with us. And lucky we had the little stream to be able to dunk the tyre to locate the hole. All fixed and back on our way.

We rode about 4km to yesterdays water source Saumos and filled up our water bottles. Then another 9 to St Helene where we were hoping to buy some bread for lunch, but as is typical in France the shops close between 12.30 and 3pm - and we were here at 1.15. Bummer, not to worry - ever the resourceful - we stopped at a picnic area outside town and cooked up some pasta to have with our tin of tuna.

After lunch we slogged on another 12km to St Medard en Jalles where we were hoping to find a camp ground to spend the night. But the bike track was too far from the centre and we did not pass the camping so decided to continue on and take our chances.

The old railway track we were on today was a little boring and at places a long slog. 15km of dead straight track makes for a little dull riding, although it was all flat it was just continual peddling. This is also the busiest bike track we have ever been on, we shared the track with 100+ other cyclists today. Not so many were pleasure riders, mostly older gents on speedy narrow wheeled bikes dressed in their favourite multicoloured lycra bike outfit.

Around 5pm we reached Bruges which is a out skirting suburb of Bordeaux. The signage on this track from Lacanau to Bordeaux had been faultless up to now, but here the track was under some repair and we missed a little detour and ended up riding about an extra 10km trying to find the path back again. At one stage we decided just to stay in Bruges but could not find the camp or a hotel. Time was getting on and we were both getting frustrated at riding around aimlessly in circles, then finally we found the missed detour and were on our way again.

By now it was getting close to 7pm and when we rode past a hotel great minds thought alike and we rode in not caring what the cost for a room was - we'd had enough. And as we had free camped the 2 previous nights we were up in kitty money. I went in to book the room while Lyn held the bikes outside. There was just one young guy in front of me at reception and when I was advised he took the last room, I took off my hat and hit him with it. Called him a bastard and walked out. Sorry but it was a necessary outlet at the time. He did apologise, but did not offer the room to us. Luckily when I asked I was advised there was another hotel just next door, so we headed straight there and managed to get a room - a little over budget but by then did not care. Hot shower and soft beds were all we could think about.

Dinner consisted of duck pate, smelly mouldy cheese, olives stuffed with anchovies and baguette - couldn't be happier.

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Thursday 3rd Oct 13 (day 33)

Woke feeling refreshed after a comfortable night's sleep in a hotel bed. Check out was not until 12 noon so we lazed around and got our money's worth. We've only a short distance to go today to no rush as per usual.

Finally on our way at midday, it took less than 30 minutes for us to ride into the centre of Bordeaux. The sky was usual was grey but no rain, however it was very windy as we rode along side La Garonne river, but thankfully not cold.

I wanted to find the tourist office to see if they could offer any further information with regards to our next bike trail, but they could only give me the map that Noelle had already sent me earlier in the year. Our next job was to find a hotel as we decided to spend the day here and no campground near the city. Tourist office advised the budget hotels were near the St Jean train station which was only 1 km from the centre. We rode the short distance and Lyn stayed with the bikes while I did a quick sweep of the surrounding hotels. Lots were full, lots more were empty buildings and lots were out of budget. We settled for Ibis budget at 60 euros for the night.

After unloading the bikes and depositing our bags into the room we again went out to explore more of the city. Not a great deal to see in Bordeaux. We bought a picnic lunch and sat by the river which did not offer a lot of entertainment as only one ferry boat seemed to be operating.

We rode around the cobbled streets on our bikes, so much more enjoyable without the weight of our luggage, but still not a great deal to see. Lots of shops and cafes. There seemed to be lots of people around but I don't think many were tourists. I guess a lot of tourists come to this area as it is a great wine area of France, but not many would have reason to stay or visit Bordeaux.

We purchased a couple of supermarket beers and found a small park where we could sit and people watch which killed some time.

A relaxing day, with another night in a hotel room. Tomorrow we start our ride to the Med starting on an old train line converted to bike track called the Roger Lapebie Path.

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 15:32 Archived in France Tagged bordeaux cap ferret arcachon lacanau Comments (8)

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