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Rocamadour. then a quick 30km round trip to Padirac Caves

walking is ok, but who are we kidding with these bikes?

Monday 16th Sept (day 16)

Ugg we woke up to the sound of rain on our tent this morning - not a sound you want to hear when camping. Not much point in hurrying to get up but we did eventually. Had a big day planned today but the weather is against us - remember our only mode of transport being Sofia and Fonsi.

Nowhere to shelter from the rain either when you are in a 2 star camp ground, they do have a couple of picnic tables with sun umbrellas near the reception office which we tried to take shelter under and have some breakfast. The lady in the office took pity on us and offered us the heated office to use while we ate. Very generous of her, we wanted to move in!

By midday the sky had started to clear and we decided to make our planned excursion to Gouffre de Padirac (Chasm of Padirac). It was a 30km round trip and we guessed leaving at midday we would be able to make it. Of course half hour on the road and the rain came and stayed with us for the rest of the day. But we were already out so decided to continue on. And again of course the route us up hill and down dale.

Beautiful countryside even in the rain.

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We made it to the caves and yes they were pretty impressive. No photos I'm afraid as this was not allowed in the cave. Info on brochure: " The Chasm of Padirac, the most famous in Europe, is considered as one of he greatest interesting geological sights of France. After a vertiginous descent by 3 lifts or 560 steps, 103 meters down, you take on board the subterranean river for a sail along the magnificent galleries. That's when you discover the Great Pendant - gigantic stalactite of 60 metres high - which, as hung by a string, seems to admire itself in the Lake of the Rain. You then go on foot to the Gours Lake or the Great Dome Room which vault is 94 metres high. A breathtaking sight!"

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Yes it was pretty impressive, but disappointing as the tour was only given in French even though in our group of 12 only 2 were French tourists. I found this very odd for an attraction that classes itself the most famous in Europe. Oh they did give us a brochure in English which was impossible to read due to the fact we were in a dark cave.!!

We jump on our bikes after not being able to get any lunch because it was after 3pm and lunch was officially over! Another sore point surely if you are a restaurant at the most famous site in Europe food should be served continually if people are willing to eat??

Anyway, back we on our bikes and head to the camp - in the rain. To make up for the lack of lunch, Lyn cooked a delicious meal of confit of duck which we purchased from the mini-market near the campground. Luckily the rain had stopped long enough for us to enjoy our dinner - even the sun showed it's face for sunset.

We have a long ride again tomorrow and due to lack of anything else to do as soon as it got dark we had well deserved hot showers and crawled into our little tent and went to sleep.

Tuesday 17th Sept 13 (day 17)

I woke to the sound of the 8am church bells ringing and happily not to the sound of rain on the tent. We are moving on today and did not want to have everything wet to try and pack up.

I was hoping for a 9am departure, but packing up and loading the bikes and having breakfast took longer than expected and it was 10.30 by the time we had paid and cycled out the campground. Goodbye Rocamadour.

About 200 meters out of town and we were already exhausted and we had 40 km to cover today. Thankfully about 1km in we were rewarded with a 6 km down hill run, and then punished by 2 km uphill push. This is how most of the day continued. Rewarding down hill runs followed by punishing up hill climbs where we had to push the full load of our bikes with gear.

It was a very hard day today, much harder even than our first day, but we did eventually make it to our destination of Grolejac. We passed many pretty little villages with houses made of stone. Not a soul about anywhere you wonder how or if these tiny places are surviving. Luck was on our side as we did not encounter any rain, which would have made the day even more strenuous.

After such a big effort and since we are starting our paddle tomorrow we decided to treat ourselves to a night in a hotel. Not much on offer here in Grolejac but Hotel du Pont just by the river managed to give us a room for 30 euro. Having found such a bargain we decided to have dinner here as well 12.50 euro for a set menu.

As I said tomorrow we start the paddle. Really hope the weather starts to clear as I can hear it raining now as we are about to go to bed. Funny the locals are saying they have no had this much rain in September for about 20 years! Typical!

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 04:35 Archived in France Tagged caves rocamadour padirac grolejac Comments (0)

Sarlat to Rocamadour - long, hard slog on Sofia & Fonsi

overcast 24 °C

Saturday 14th Sept 13 (day 14)

We woke up at 8ish, showered got dressed in our bum pants (aka padded bike pants) had a coffee/tea then coasted down to the supermarket at about 9ish. Bloody dog got out the gate so we had to catch him and make sure he was locked up before we left.

After breakfast of ham and baguette, we hit the road about 10ish. Of course I navigated the most difficult exit out of town and not until we had climbed (pushed the bikes) up 2 hills and flown down the other side did I realise that we could have taken a different road that stayed on the flat. Ooops.

We had a BIG RIDE today. Although the first 20 km was easy riding along an paved path that used to be an train line, so very smooth and relatively flat. As the day progressed the ride got harder and harder. Mid section was a few hills that we needed to push up but were then rewarded with a cooling, exciting down hill ride. Made even more exciting by the fact that both our bikes have very little breaking power, and now with the load on them it sometimes got a little scary on the fast down hill runs as the brakes did very little except make a lot of noise.

We stopped for a picnic lunch on the side of the road at a bench. This was our only option as there are never any picnic spots with tables, so we entertained the people walking past with our little picnic scene.

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By late afternoon we were pushing up and up and up and there did not seem to be any down to compensate. At about 3pm we stopped at a bus stop for a breather and I reckon if a bus had come along Lyn would have happily boarded it with no regard for where is was going or cost. Seems that my small effort of training before the trip faired me well and Lyn's lack of did not work in her favour. Unfortunately she was also hindered by the fact that Sofia was not happy her back wheel kept on jumping across and rubbing on the frame of the bike, which acted wonderfully as a brake. Not what you want when you are trying to pedal forward or push uphill.

All in all it was a hard slog, but what magnificent countryside. Wow France has been keeping herself a secret, this place is so beautiful. We crossed over the Dordogne river a few times and passed towns and villages that we will be passing when we paddle on the river. We did not do any extensive stops today as our main aim was to reach Rocamadour.

It was overcast all day and in the afternoon we had some light rain, but it was almost welcomed as we were pretty knackered and a bit of fresh rain did not hurt with the cooling of our overworked bodies. Of course as soon as we reached our destination and found a campground it rained steady but still light enough so we were able to set up the tent without getting everything too wet.

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I cooked our first camp dinner while Lyn set up the bedding in the tent. Pork chops and tin of vegies - easy - cooked on our little one burner camping gaz stove but we had to borrow a cigarette lighter from a fellow camper who obviously felt sorry for us and ended up saying we could keep it. Score!

The campground is 2 stars and very basic. As in no dunny paper and no tables and chairs but there is free wifi and it's only costing 15 euro per nite.

It's still raining now as I write this, it's dark now almost 9pm, time for a shower and then bed. Don't think it will matter how uncomfortable the camping bed is tonight for I am certain we will both sleep without any problems.

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Hope the weather clears for our exploration of Rocamadour tomorrow.

Sunday 15th Sept 13 (day 15)

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Last night when I returned to the tent from the shower the rain was really starting to come down. We ended up having a terrible night as it bucketed down fairly heavy continuously thru the night all night. It was cold and we both kept waking up thinking we were about to drown or at least get soaking wet. Luckily the tent did hold up and only a couple of things got slightly damp, but on awaking at 8am we were both still wreaked from yesterdays ride and the sleepless night. Hey it's Sunday to we are allowed to sleep in, which is exactly what we did. Rolled over and finally got a couple of hours decent sleep.

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Brunch of Ambert blue cheese on a fresh baguette with coffee and tea hit the spot at about 11.30am. Unfortunately the sky still does not look too promising although the sun is trying to break through and every 5 minutes we get a burst of sunshine and warmth. There are also blue patches and a bit of breeze to lets hope for the best for the rest of the day.

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It was still cold here today although we had no rain. We walked down to the old town of Rocamadour on the pilgrimage trail. All dates back to the 13th, 14th & 15th centuries, so pretty old stuff. We walked around and then walked back up the zigzag track.

I'm hoping the temperature is low here because we are at a high altitude, mental note to wear more clothes to bed tonight.

Lyn cooked a lovely dinner tonight of couscous royal with chicken and beef - sounds like an amazing achievement on our one burner - but it was all out of a can. Tasted great too!

As there is nowhere really to sit here in the campground as soon as it turns dark we will have showers and go to bed. Another big day planned for tomorrow as today was a rest day. Surprisingly we were not in the least muscle sore from our efforts yesterday, but maybe they will be felt tomorrow.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 11:01 Archived in France Tagged rocamadour Comments (3)

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