Continuing South...

Trip Start Jul 23, 2012
Trip End Feb 03, 2013

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Where I stayed
le daviene campsite
paradise le Pyrenees campsite

Flag of France  , Aquitaine,
Sunday, August 19, 2012


When we woke up there the sea mist was very strong and had left most things damp, we packed up anyway and discovered Rhys' helmet was missing! A second of panic then we saw a note left in his tank bag say 'Do not leave anything without surveillance in the caravan park, I control everyone in the park, your helmet is in the washing room, from the guardian’. Unsure where the washroom was we continued to pack away all our gear, I went to pay for our two nights which was €40. We then had a beautiful ride south, passing through some pretty little seaside villages, the sea mist adding to the beauty. A particularly pretty place was Morlaix, as it had a huge train bridge running through the centre of the village. We then drove some small roads south to Lorient where we had a walk around to find a sandwich for lunch. Back on the bikes and we continued riding, it was strange watching cars pass and see the ‘driver’ reading a book, texting or have their feet up on dash I would have a slight feeling of fright until I realised they were the passenger….it took a while for it to be natural that the left hand person was driving. When our stomachs told us it was lunchtime, we filled up the bikes then walked down the back of the petrol station to a spot on the grass to eat lunch. Rhys had poor choice in sandwiches and only had ham on his while mine was a delicious Texan chicken sandwhich plus I was clever enough to get an apple pastry… I did share it with Rhys. Back on the bikes and we hit the motorway, 130km/hr is the speed limit, we sat at around 115km/hr which was quite a nice pace.  When we arrived at St Nazaire we got off the motorway and rode along the coast, the scenery had turned to very flat, dry and boring which meant I was getting sick of riding and tired. Unfortunately grumpy Raelene came out a little bit and Rhys handled it very well, we finally found a campsite in St Jean de Monts, found our site then headed straight for the pool, it was another +30oC day. After our swim we went for a lovely walk along some bush paths to find the beach, not a very pleasant beach as there were thousands of people and it stunk, as there was seaweed everywhere! Slowly walked back to the campground and found the bar, had a few well deserved beers and pizza for dinner. When we finally got to bed we both were buggered as we had travelled 238miles.


Our first year wedding anniversary! We started the day with a run/walk through the bush tracks, which was beautiful as it gave us the opportunity to reminisce about your wedding day and how fantastic it was with all our family and friends. We then packed up all our gear and continued along the coast, it was a very long slow drive as the traffic was crazy! We took a break in a small town to get a croissant for breakfast then aimed to get to La Rochelle by lunch. We found our way into the centre of La Rochelle and parked the bikes, got into some cooler clothes and walked into the main square. Found a nice café to have a cold drink and crepe, neither of us had any idea what was in La Rochelle so decided to head to tourism information for advice, it was a beautiful walk through the sandstone streets, on ‘getting lost’ in the city we found the harbour and the hotel we wanted to stay in, never making it to the tourism information.  Walked back to get our bikes only realizing just before the carpark that we had put everything, including the keys, in our hotel room! By the time we finally reached our bikes we knew La Rochelle very well. Rode our bikes around the city to the hotel then showered and headed out for dinner. We walked to the harbour entrance where the original two towers stood, strolled along the ramparts that were built in the 1300’s.  It was then time to decide on one of the many restaurants, and we chose very well. Our dinner was amazing; we had our first glass of French champagne with our entrée of baked Camembert, apple salad and a French twist on tomato soup with grilled prawns. Main meals were lobster and scallop salad and full baked sea bass – delicious!

Walked around a bit more after dinner, the city night life was starting to appear as many people were setting up stores and there were many street performers.  We watched a troupe performing some clever acrobatic and balancing acts. At the hotel we indulged in a bottle of champagne in the courtyard before heading back to the street festivities for desert and enjoy the harbour lights. An awesome way to celebrate the end of our first year of marriage and the beginning of year 2!

The morning dawned and we had a lovely sleep in! went for a walk around town in the morning as the check out time for the hotel was noon! how awesome is that! picked up some breakfast and a baguette for lunch from a local patisserie and retuned to the hotel to pack up the bikes and head off.
The decision was made to jump on the motorway and continue south stopping in at the Bordeaux region on our way. On getting onto the motorway we came up to what looked like a row of toll booths but on stopping it was only a ticket dispensing machine. Unsure of the correct procedure, we grabbed 1 ticket for the both of us (1 bike + 1 bike = 4 wheels i.e. 1 car) and continued on. the motorways were fairly free of traffic and we made great time over the 200km to Bordeaux. We were just about to leave the motorway when we came to another set of toll booths, I picked the one with the motorbike within the big red circle thinking bingo! a lane just for us....on arriving at the booth a rather irate french lady emerged shouting at us in french...we finally worked out that this was NOT a bike lane but one just for cars...oh well we just needed to pay and get out of there quick smart. I popped the ticket in the machine then my card which was debited for around 7 euros - thanks very much - then we both went to ride through the now open gate. Needless to say the already grumpy french lady dropped her bundle. Raelene was let through but i was made to insert my 'other ticket'.....annoying her even more. As if by magic another 7 Euro was brought up on the screen, my card was again sucked into the machine and we were home free....
We finally made it to Saint Emilion, by now the sun was beating down on us, had our lunch under a tree in the shade and decided to head into the UNESCO heritage listed town for a look. While i was over putting some bits away on the bikes, Raelene ran into a Kiwi who was nice enough to give us a rundown on the town and surrounding area. on setting off we noticed a rather butch looking police woman eyeing off our bikes, thinking nothing of it we continued past her, trying to be conspicuous...and entered the old town. 
Rhys: "Raelene, did that sign just say 30 minute parking limit?"
Raelene: "yeah maybe...but that guy said that if we had GB rego plates we couldn't get followed up over the fine"
Rhys: "Cool, bugger it then"
On walking down the road we began to get a bit of guilt trip and decided to skirt back around and move the bikes. Just as we made the decision we saw our new Kiwi pal running towards us saying 'thank god i found you guys, she was going to tow your bikes!'...Lucky break...
Needless to say we moved the bikes and headed into the town. What a beautiful part of the world, for only a tiny little place - I would go as far to say the same sized area as sheffield - there were multiple ally ways and buildings dotted around and in such a picturesque area, steep cobbled streets contoured around the buildings in town...amazing spot! Bit of a pity it was about 40 degrees....
Although the town was lovely i was not handling it...for some reason i was too hot and could not get cool, grumpy Rhys surfaced and it forced me to sit in the town square and take it easy for an hour or so!
We went to a local wine shop and bought a bottle of red to have with dinner, then popped into the visitor information building to get a rundown on campsites around the area (too hot to ride far!!!) We were lucky to find a camp spot about 3 minutes out of town and called into a grocery store on the way to pick up supplies for dinner.
The French campsites never cease to amaze! pool, hydra(water)slide, mini golf, table tennis and an entire fenced off lake complete with canoes and pedal boats. we packed up some bits for dinner and headed around the lake to find a 'special' spot. success!
We had a great dinner consisting of, avocado, tomatoes, baguette, pancetta, cheese, grapes and tomato pesto...washed down with the local red wine. great stuff!
We decided to have a quick hit of tennis to work off dinner, and with me just winning we retired to bed.

Another wonderful french day dawned and after quite a warm sleep, we jumped on the bikes and attempted to find our way through the maze of vineyards. after a few wrong turns we found a way onto the motorway (by the way the GPS is still in the box ;-)...) and after not learning any lessons from the day before grabbed only one ticket! (aussies/kiwis beating the system....)
We zoomed down the motor way - the speed limit being 130km/hr - and stopped into a servo for a spot of lunch and fuel.
We exited the motorway at Pau and again came upon a toll booth! picking the right lane and having Raelene at the ready we payed for the '1 car/2 bikes' rule and dodged the grumpy french lady....we were safe...
Arriving at Oloron St Marie, at the base of the Pyrenees, we tracked down a supermarket for dinner supplies and a pillow for Raelene then went in hunt for a camping ground. Rode out of town about 10kms and found a perfect spot on the river, we are continually surprised at how well camping sites are sign posted even in very small villages. 
Set up the tent then had a beautiful swim the river to cool down a little. Cooked dinner by the river then settled at the bar for a few beers before bed.  
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