Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of France  , Poitou-Charentes,
Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bells, bells, and more bells.  Awoke at 7am to 7 chimes on the large town bell (not that it stopped all night), but it repeated the time 3x over the next few minutes - just in case you missed the first.  Then, in case you weren’t awake yet, it started an all out peel which lasted about 2 minutes.  Afterwards, it continued the normal , , and chimes as usual.  However, 8 o’clock did not bring the same eye-opening sounds, and neither did 9...I wonder what it was about 7 o’clock that brought such merry music?  Clearly the bell-ringer had decided that this was the time everyone needed to be waking!  It’s the little things like this that really make me smile.  I know in the places I’ve lived in Canada this would never happen.  Maybe a clock tower can chime out during the day, but not at night.  I know some old churches that have to fight city by-laws just to ring their bells on Sunday mornings!  Hearing the bells ring takes me to a completely different place

Leaving the campsite this morning I made a stupid mistake:  I forgot to fill the water bottles.  Only the last few dredges left over from yesterday remained.  With constant sun everyday, we drink a lot of water!  Carefully I eyed each town we went through for a tap, a public fountain, or other campground to sneak into, but nothing.  Getting desperate for water (even though it was only an hour into our journey  more with the thought of going without rather than actual thirst) I began hoping for a town with a store so that I could buy a liter or 2 to get us through the day, but no.  Finally, like a beacon from heaven there was a sign showing water for cyclists?!?  I blinked…could this be true, or is it a mirage?  It was true!  Never seeing anything like this before in any town we’ve been through, I was extremely thankful it was here on the day we needed it most!

After over a week of peace and quite (canal, back country) we were in for a bit of a shock.  We’ve been heading towards the west coast to shoot down towards Bordeaux and apparently we’ve arrived at one of France’s big ‘holiday destination’ areas.  Giant campgrounds line the roads with the capacity for 100’s of pitches each.  Most have their own waterparks, but there’s more down the street just in case.  Huge wide beaches just waiting for sun-worshippers to lay themselves upon it.  Thankfully it’s not holiday time and most places are empty (which suits us just right).  We manages to find a smaller quieter campground that was still open and settled ourselves for the evening.  A very nice man came over and offered us a couple of his plastic chairs to use to the evening - so sweet!  Whoever said that the French were snobs ... ?

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