Sunday, September 30, 2018

29th September (sunny and hot) 66 km

It was quite a warm night and I never sleep that well when it’s warm.  Had a dream about our big beautiful bear Rufus who’s been gone two years now but still miss him.  Couldn’t sleep again after that as I was feeling hungry and it was only 6am and still very dark.  It wasn’t long before Pete was also awake and at 6.45 I made us a coffee and we started to pack up.  There are few things that will get Pete out of the relative comfort of his bed early, but one of those things is the thought that we have no breakfast! 
Packing up early from our lovely campground

So with only the sustenance of a cup of coffee, we hit the road at 8am – the earliest we’ve been on the road the whole trip I think, and it felt good.  It was only just light but we had a lovely ride through the southern suburbs of Arcachon, which is a very nice area.  Reminded us a lot of Australia, with the houses and the foliage, and the streets and cycle paths were immaculate and well signposted with no potholes to speak of.
Lovely houses in the south of Arcachon

We were on our way to the Dunes of Pilat, which I had no idea even existed before this trip.  There was a barrier across the drive with a list of charges on a board.  The place was pretty deserted so we just walked our bikes around the barrier, parked and locked them and headed up the path to have a look at this dune.
The Dunes of Pilat - fantastic!

I have to say, it was well worth the diversion and we made use of the stairs to get to the top and grab some photographs before running down in bare feet in the soft white sand where we at last had some breakfast, having picked up some fresh bread and milk on the way to the Dune.  We were really glad we got there when we did as hordes of tourists began to show up as we were breakfasting and it was special to have just have us and a handful of others there.

Breakfast time!

From here we followed the main road which had a cycle path to Biscarosse Plage.  Because we didn’t have to consult a map, we made good time along here enjoying the feeling of the bikes working well, not to mention our bodies.  We had worked up a sweat by the time we arrived at the beach which had surfers up and down the length of it.  The bodyboarders were having a great time but the rides were pretty short.  It was mid to low tide and I would be interested to see what the waves were like on full tide.  Even though there was a cool breeze blowing, we knew the bike path veered away from the coast after this, so decided to head in for a dip, maybe get a few bodysurfs.  However, upon entering the water, we knew that was a no go.  The water was just too cold – probably only about 15C and the breaking waves too big and too far out and too dumpy.  So we dived under a few times to freshen up and then had a bit of a sunbathe to warm up again.
Biscarosse Plage - an endless beach

Cycled the 10km up the road to Biscarosse Bourg where we found a supermarket and grabbed a few supplies before heading down to the riverside to make ourselves some lunch.  Pete oiled my chain which has been drying out quickly with the salt air and sand.  On we pedalled to Parentis en Born and we actually had a tailwind, so flew along here.  Arrived at an Intermarche and thought it might be a good idea to pick up some supplies.  Noticed they had free wifi here so I took the computer into their little cafĂ© and sat down and did the wages and posted a blog.  Nobody bothered me and I didn’t even have to buy anything.  Pete meanwhile cleaned stuff out of the bike chains and got chatting to an French bike tourer who showed up on an extended Surly bike – with a whole lot of stuff attached to it!!!  It must have been quite cumbersome to ride – you certainly wouldn’t want to do any sharp turns on it. His washing line was a pole sticking off the back, of this already extended bike, by about half a metre.
Glad we're not hauling all that stuff around!

We left here about 5pm, hopeful we would get a camp as there seemed to be plenty around a big lake we had to pass.  Sure enough, the first campground we came to was open and only 9 euros for the night – that’ll do us!  It even had the added bonus of having grass on the pitches and with us being only tent here, we could have our pick.
So got the tent up and gave Pete a much-needed haircut before showering, blogging and dinner.  Had Pepito, the camp cat come and smooch around us, which was lovely, until he started making a beeline for our dinner!  No way Jose – you ain’t getting no food off us sunshine!
Pete here: Dead right you’re not getting any food, scroungy cat. That’s my sustenance right there. There seem to be a few Spanish speakers at this camp, although Julia hasn’t honed in to what they’re saying at present, of course it’s spoken at a thousand words a minute. We all know how passionate Latinos can be. Phil and Elizabeth are now a way behind us, but only because we’ve slipped into our rhythm of getting up and on the road earlier. Hope they catch us up, they are good company. Biarritz is now, not too far away and once there, it’s a hop, skip and a jump to Spain, where Julia can practise her Spanish. I have to say, I have really enjoyed speaking French again and we will most definitely be back here. Last time we said that, it took us thirty years to get back….! Since then, the French seem much more accepting of English speaking people, however, trying to communicate in any language in their country, is always favourable. Roll on our tour of Mongolia…? We only have six weeks of this tour left and we really have some ground to cover. The sun has now set, so, from the south of France, its goodnight from me and it’s goodnight from her.

28th September (misty, foggy, some sun in afternoon, cool) 62 km

Had a terrible sleep last night, with people walking about the site and being surrounded by pine trees, cones falling, trees creaking etc. By the time morning arrived, although tired, I just wanted to get going. Julia felt the same, so we had our cuppa, then followed it with a hearty breakfast. The day was miserable. A thick sea mist covered the entire area and everything was damp, except the tent, which was thoroughly soaked. Ah the joy of folding up a wet tent. Even better when it’s been pitched on sand for the night. Our jandals were caked in wet sand by the time we’d packed up.  Still, a good bash and they’re markedly better.  Phil and Elizabeth were just getting up so we said we’d get going, pretty sure they will catch us as we do like to take photos and have swims.  Said we would stay in touch by phone and we were off.
Very misty this morning

Into town to pick up supplies as we weren’t sure where we would end up tonight, so best to play it safe with a stocked larder. Once that was complete we headed to the front to take a view of the ocean…..not a chance, that mist was a full scale fog, you couldn’t even see the waves. Out of town and straight into the pine forests that we’ve been cycling in over the past two days. Today, the tracks were good and although the scenery was the same, it was also different in many ways.  One of the big differences to yesterday is the cycle track wound it’s way through the pine forest rather than just ploughing straight through it.  This served to make our ride much more enjoyable, anticipating each curve in the path and well away from any roads.  It’s unbelievable they have all these beautifully paved cycle paths in the middle of nowhere.

We’d decided early on that today we wanted to make up some ground, so to get to Arcachon was our goal. No stops for two hours and put the hoof down, which is what we did, so much so, that we missed a vital turn which took us kms out of our way.
Beautiful cycle paths again
This is what happens when you've seen one too many pine trees and need to reliebe the monotony

Ju Here: There were a couple of reasons for missing the turn.  One was that we were into a steady rhythm with our pedalling and just plain didn’t want to stop to check the map boards.  Another reason was we assumed the Euro Velo route 1 went all the way down the coast, but actually it didn’t, and we were following the signage for this.  The third reason was there were lots of surf breaks along this stretch of coast and at the critical point, there happened to be a couple of surfers getting changed by their car, one of them completely oblivious of our approach from behind him.  His mate saw us but chose to leave his buddy completely naked of the facts, butt I for one, did not mind at all!  By the time we picked up our error, it was too late other than to take an alternative route, which in the end, worked out well.
The mist had cleared and the Arcachon Basin looked beautiful

We were now cycling on the shores of the Arcachon Basin and looking for a ferry to take us to our destination. First one closed for the season, as was the second. On the third attempt we arrived at Cap Ferret, and stumbled upon the Tourism Office.  Found out the next ferry wasn’t leaving until 4.30pm – it was now 3pm.  Fortunately for us, the tourism office had free wifi so we were at last able to upload a blog, as we were two days behind.  While we sat here, the fog rolled in again (it had disappeared for about three hours) and the wind got up and it got decidedly cold.  Found a more sheltered spot where we made ourselves a coffee before embarking.
Pete takes a seat while our bikes sit behind him, waiting to be loaded.

We’d been told to go to the end of the pier at 4.15pm ready to board. Promptly, we marched our bikes down there, along with a huge amount of foot passengers and a lot with bikes. We weren’t sure that we were going to get on, the ferry was tiny, but yes, all we had to do was take the bags off the bikes, which is a feat in itself, and along with the hoards, climb aboard with our bags.  Then the guys from the boats lifted all the bikes onto the roof of the ferry (about a dozen of them) and tied them down.  The crossing was covered in around thirty minutes and cost us forty dollars.
The fog has closed in again

So, here we were, heading to Arcachon, to a four star camp. We had no idea of the price and hoped for the best as our only other options were about 20km down the coast.  Followed the directions and low and behold, the camp was at the top of a steep hill, now there’s something different. The lady on reception was lovely and even lovelier when she quoted us a thirteen euro pitch. As with nearly everything in this area, this camp was in amongst the pine trees, but a whole lot different to last night’s pitch. These were lovely sites, well set up and perfect for two cyclists who never thought they’d be staying here the night anyway.
Haven’t heard from Elizabeth and Phil since mid-afternoon, so hopefully they are sorted, although we have told them where we are.  Showered and blogged and cooked tea and generally relished in the feeling of a good day’s cycling and achieving our objective of making it to Arcachon.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

27th September (sunny and mild, windy) 56 km

We woke about 6am but snoozed until 7.30am when the first thing on the agenda was to check how well the washing had dried.  To our amazement, it was pretty much dry, due to the constant seabreeze overnight.  It just needed a bit of sunshine to warm it up.  So we figured we should chuck another load of washing on before we left this camp which we did and hung this up to dry while we got breakfast and packed up the tent.
Shaun and a couple of Frenchies departed, cycling together today, but they cycle far too fast for us and I doubt they stop to take photos. Once brekky was out of the way, some of the washing was dry, or getting close and today is supposed to be thirty one degrees.

The roads were pretty good and just about empty,
but we still had cycle tracks to use.
Out of camp, onto the Euro Velo 1 and then it was a steady bash through pine forests on good cycle paths and when they got a bit iffy, we would simply switch to the deserted roads alongside.  The problem with this section of the coast are the terribly long straights, which can become very tedious. There is not an option however if you don’t want cars and we don’t, for as long as we can be free of them. In these instances, it’s a case of get your mind focused and get stuck in. That we did for the first 20kms to Hourtin Plage, under a now very hot sun. Some of the washing that we’d had out on our bikes was now dry, so it was time to put out some new stuff and get a swim at the beach to cool off.
Elizabeth and Phil had taken off up the road ahead of us during the morning, but we now pulled in alongside them, to enjoy some lunch. Julia wanted a swim before lunch, so Liz and Phil had lunch and watched our bikes while we took off. The beach goes on into the horizon here, golden squeaky sand, cool underfoot. The surf today however was heavy and the current was dangerous. I always worry about Julia’s enthusiasm for a swim, over safety, but even she was very aware, so we stayed at thigh level and just dived under the cold water.  Noticed a guy further along the beach fishing……naked.  Judging by his tan, he had spent all summer down at the beach with his rods.  Spent maybe ten minutes before wandering back to the guys to do a swap and have some lunch. Delicious, sardines and tomatoes with baguette. At home we would never normally eat this and yet on previous tours, we’ve also loved it.
Look at this for a cycle track!  What a surface......beautiful!

Perfect conditions for drying off the togs

Afternoon session began as the morning had finished, same scene, same slog and the sun now raging.  We had all lathered up with the sunscreen but still felt it wasn’t enough protection against the now fierce sun.  We can understand why all the locals shut up shop for three hours at this time of day.  The wind was strong in our faces as well which made it even more of a slog, but we just put our heads down and got on with it.  You wouldn’t think there would be so much deserted forest in France.  It just went on and on.  Same with the golden beach, although this afternoon we veered away from it and did quite a bit of uphill, although it was a good gradient.
We decided to check out some camps in Lacanau Plage, which seems to be a very popular surf town.  The first camp we came to wanted 21 euros per couple so we went to the supermarket and had a very welcome ice-cream and can of coke.  While we were buying these, Elizabeth cycled to the tourism office and found the municipal site was only about 2 km away so we all cycled there.  It was only 14 euro per couple and had a swimming pool so we all excitedly chose a pitch then went to go for a dip……but the pool was closed!!!  Talk about disappointed!  So we got the tents up and went for showers instead – that felt pretty good.  
Camp for the night - nice while the sand was dry!

Blogged in the shade having a sip of our preferred tipples and enjoying the breeze blowing in.
The problem we now have is that a lot of the campsites are closed or very close to it. That means freecamping, which shouldn’t be a problem, but lack of internet definitely is. The annoying thing with campsites closing (or preparing to), is they still charge normal rates, yet have no pool access…. Piss off… where I come from, that deserves a discount. No freakin’ free wifi, even though you’re paying normal rates?…. Come on Mr Froggie….that’s shit…!! So, we have the option of staying by the coast and the water, but little camping….or head inland for the possibility of no water and no camping and still no wifi ……???

Friday, September 28, 2018

26th September (sunny, hot and windy) 42 km

Our eldest daughter’s birthday today and last night we managed to facebook call her, very quietly, from our pitch black tent.  Modern technology can be so useful when you are away from your loved ones.
Campground for the night

Woke about 7am when the normal stomping, blasting, singing, beeping and every other adjective you can imagine comes into action here. The day had dawned clear and the sun was already showing signs of creeping above the trees to warm our tent. After washing some socks, we sat in the tent discussing options for a small ferry which will take us from Royan, over the Gironde estuary and plonk us on a long stretch of French coastline, famous for its beaches, swimming and surf….yahoo. After a few days of head and cross winds, we are looking forward to a few swims, even though the sea yesterday was around fifteen degrees, when we took a dip in the late afternoon. The most awkward part about this stretch of coast could be lack of campsites and that means power and that means no blog. We’ll see what happens.
Why wouldn't you?
Phil and Elizabeth were late to get up and when they did get up, said they had been quite cold through the night.  It had been very cold and when I checked my phone about 8am it said 10C, but the sky was blue so things should warm up.  Luckily Pete and I have thicker sleeping bags and I also chucked my merino on and we were nice and cosy and slept well.
An impressive 12th century church in
St Palais-sur-mer where our camp was.
We breakfasted and packed the tent up, by which time the sun was shining on the pool.  It looked so inviting that we had to jump in for a swim before setting off about 11.15am.  Had a lovely ride along a quiet road with it’s own cycle path along a very affluent area on the outskirts of Royan.  Cruisy riding along wide promenades delivered us to the inner city.  Unlike most French towns, this didn’t seem to have an old part of town (guess it all got bombed in the war), but the whole city had a lovely relaxed seaside vibe.
Beautiful beaches all the way round to Royan and mostly cycle paths

We found the Super U Express and went in for lunch supplies and by this stage the sun was fierce and the wind was making it’s presence felt again.  So when we spotted a little recess at the side of the supermarket, in the shade, out of the wind, with somewhere to sit and a makeshift table in the form of a stack of wrapped timber, we decided to lunch there.  It was perfect and we enjoyed a delicious lunch of sardines and tomatoes, followed by a nectarine and a coffee and almond cake.
Pete here: Funny what kicks you get from something so simple as a nice lunch on the road. You can keep your fancy meals in your riverside or beachfront resorts (and I know some people think I’m just being a cheap bastard right now) but it’s true and Julia will be the first to agree (even without her arm being twisted up her back).
Who needs five star restaurants?  Sardines and tomatoes never tasted so good!

As we finished packing up, here come Elizabeth and Phil. They went to find a food place as our supermarket had shut for lunch and we met them a few minutes later down by the front. All cycled along to the Ferry terminal and paid five euros each for our crossing across the bay. There were about ten other cycle tourers waiting with us and I got talking to a girl from London. Her and her boyfriend were cycling to Milan, then hopping a plane to Cyprus for three months in a flat, before flying to South America, Colombia to spend time there. There are people travelling constantly and that is half the fun of this experience, you get to touch base with them.
On the ferry

As we rolled onto the ferry, we got talking to an Aussie guy called Shaun, same age as me….twenty nine…..ok ok , fifty nine, and it was his birthday too. He had been a teacher and taken early retirement, then invested his money. Since 2002, he’s been coming to Europe, cycling, every year, usually for three weeks. He spent the short thirty minute trip talking to us and then when Elizabeth and Phil went off to find a hat and sunglasses, he rode with Ju and I for the next five kms, before taking off on his own.  He mentioned running into a 75 year old Swiss guy who was on his way back to Switzerland.  We said, “It wasn’t Hans-Peter was it?”  And he said yes it was – we had met Hans-Peter at the campground right before we got to Nantes – small world.

We continued down the Euro Velo 1 route cycle track until we reached Soulac, which had a beautiful beach, which we couldn’t pass up for a swim. Headed into the water and it was cold, but refreshing on this hot day. Spent some time in the water before probably a fifteen minute sunbathe. Whilst here, we are not going to rush past these gorgeous beaches and if it means we get behind, then so be it. Bet the people who know me never thought they’d hear me say that…!
Soulac has a mini Statue of Liberty.
I know the French gave the Americans their
big one - why this little one is in this town,
I have no idea!

Soulac was a funny town.  You would think perched on this amazing expanse of golden sand that it would be a thriving little community, and maybe it is in summer.  But in autumn it has a sad, neglected feel and it looks very rundown in places.  We spied two big apartment blocks (and they seemed to be the only apartment blocks in town), that had graffiti all over them and their windows smashed in.  There was nobody living in them and we suspect maybe the sand had subsided underneath them and made them unliveable.
Dilapidated apartments
Now that's what I call a beach!!

Amazing cycle paths laid on for us here
Ever since we got off the ferry, the cycling had been amazing.  Flat cycle paths with good surfaces through pine forest past beautiful beaches was the order of the day.  Luckily the forest kept the wind from being too much of an issue as it was a very strong crosswind (offshore) when we were out from the trees.  There looks to be quite strong swells and currents on this coast as the water seems quite churned up with the golden sand.
We heard from Philip and Elizabeth that they had checked into a municipal campground in Montaivert where we arrived about 6pm. Looks a bit rundown, but will do us just fine.  There’s a surf/yoga camp across the road so we feel right at home. Put the tent up and Shaun was there too, along with several other bike tourers.  They were all going into town for a drink and invited us along.  However, going out for a drink in France can be an expensive business, whereas buying your own and bringing it back to the tent, is unbelievably cheap.  Less than half what you would pay in NZ, so the four of us were happy to stay in the now empty camp and have dinner at the picnic table and a few drinks.
Elizabeth had found a free washing machine (which is like gold in cycle touring), so we put a load of washing on and hung it up to see how well it fares overnight.  One of the other cycle tourers plugged into the camp power socket with his adaptor and offered us the use of the power, which we all gratefully accepted.  Have to say, we are doing really well keeping everything charged and the big powerbank we brought with us has been awesome.
The other thing that has been awesome, has been the discovery of 8.6, a Dutch lager, varying in strength from, 8.6 – 11 per cent. Tonight, I decided that two would be the right quantity to offload over a blog and dinner. That was incorrect. By the time I had my shower, toward 9pm, I was literally leaning into the shower walls, just to keep myself upright and the slightest thought that I found  amusing, suddenly turned out to be hilarious  and I caught myself laughing  hysterically.  My bed was a welcome relief.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

25th September (sunny, windy, cool) 63 km

Woke this morning at just after 7am, to a very cool start to the day. Neither of us had slept particularly well, for me it was the noise from outside the camp, cars, trains, people and suchlike. Took what we needed over to the common room to have a cuppa before breakfast, to begin the day well. We’d gone over early for another reason as well. Julia had received a phone call from Dad at 6am, which sent warning signals straight away, but when we thought about it, he’d been having trouble with his phone set up and we think that this was just one of those things.
Began breakfast and in walks the kiwi guy we met last night. He was telling us about his stove and why he loves it so much. It’s funny cause you do get different purchases that are favourites in the way they perform day in day out. Had a bit of a laugh with him, then I took the dishes to wash whilst Ju carried on blogging.  Back at the tent I began packing up. Wandered back to get Ju and she was chatting to Brody on the phone.

All packed up, we hit the road on our way to Royan, further down the coast. We had a couple of options. First was continue following Euro Velo 1 cycle path in a very circuitous route through all the neighbouring villages – with the blustery wind continuing today, we pretty much ruled this option out as it would mean heading straight into it.  Another option was to use a ferry to cross the river but we had already missed the last morning sailing and it wouldn’t operate next until 2pm, so that ruled that out.  The third option was to cross a very busy bridge on a dual carriageway.  Having first ensured there was a bike lane in the form of a painted bit on the side of the road, we chose the third option. Have to say, with the wind once again gusting and the heavy traffic, it was not a pleasant experience, but at least it was only a km long, rather than the 4 km bridge to the island the other day.
Next challenge

Julia here:  After that we chose some minor roads through to Saint Agnant which should link us back up with EuroVelo 1.  Sure enough, we spied a cycle path under the bridge we were crossing and that was EuroVelo 1, but before we joined it again, we suddenly realised it was midday and we didn’t have any food.  So many villages have no shops open in the early afternoon and we didn’t know what sort of places we’d be cycling through, so when we spied a boulangerie just up the road, we sprinted up there to get in the doors before she closed for her siesta….or whatever they do when they close for three hours in the afternoon.
Pete and Elizabeth on the old railway line.

Once we had some pastry delights in hand, we were happy to join the cycle path which appeared to be an old railway line through the trees.  It was very scenic, flat and direct and the surface, although not sealed, was reasonably good.  It was here that our two English 70 year olds from yesterday caught up with us and we all had a cruisy chat up this path.  Roger is definitely the more talkative of the two but both he and Dave seem like really nice guys – and they cycle at a good pace!

We had about half a kilometre of rough surface after this before it lead onto meandering sealed roads through marshland, canals and little fishing lakes.  Quite scenic in a bleak sort of way, but absolutely no protection from the wind, which was luckily more with us than against us today.  It was pretty cold today due to the wind and I only swapped my trackpants for shorts about 1pm.

We were on the lookout for a sheltered place to eat our bounty, but there was nothing until we got to the next town of Marennes.  We spied an Intermarche supermarket and went in there for more supplies and they had a couple of seats under a false palm tree in their foyer area, so we sat on these and finally devoured the goods from the boulangerie that we’d bought over an hour beforehand.  It was here that we lost Roger and David and we didn’t see them for the rest of the day.

I think this figure was supposed to entice you to the beach

Pete here: The afternoon consisted of steady cycling on road, often with a cycle path to the side, rather than the EuroVelo 1, as it had you going all around the world and with the wind again today, we didn’t fancy that. At about 4pm, we found ourselves down at a gorgeous beach, with golden sand. Just the opportunity for a swim. Changed in the bushes and wandered down to the beach, where we had a choice. To the left, there was a swimsuit area and to the right, was the nudists. Why is it that all nudists seem to be older, single gentlemen who have let themselves go, who like to strut up and down the sand, gradually invading others space. I’m sure Julia and Elizabeth wouldn’t have minded a nice bit of Greek Adonis, strolling up and down, but alas it was not to be. I wouldn’t have objected to some nice eye candy myself, but I can’t recall even seeing a female there.

Dried off and pushed on for Royan, firstly on a track, then on a road. At one point we lost Phil and Liz as they shot ahead and Julia and I turned off for St. Palais sur Mer. We sent them a message saying we had found a Super U supermarket so I lubed my chain, whilst Ju shopped for dinner. She heard from Elizabeth that they were in a four star camp just down the road, so we cruised down and joined them at Deux Plages, which was 15 euro per couple.

Elizabeth on the lovely cycle path over the sand dunes to finish the day.

Got the tents up and then Ju and Elizabeth jumped in the pool for a swim while I blogged.  By the time Ju finished swimming it was 7pm and going quite cold, so I just went straight for a shower while she blogged.  Dinner was mackerel in a delicious mustard sauce with a can of green beans thrown in and a baguette.
A good day of cycling today making good ground without the terrain being too demand

24th September (fine, windy, cool) 62 km

It was a warm night in the tent, despite the weather predictions so we didn’t have that great a sleep.  Plus, you do need to get a few kms under your belt so you’re suitably knackered enough to sleep on a 1 cm thick mat, and we’d only done 18.
Got up at 7.30am and I rugged myself up with several layers so I could sit on the outside bench to pick up the wifi and upload the blog.  Fortunately it was a great connection so I didn’t have to freeze for too long.  Pete made us a cup of tea and then we adjourned to the common room for breakfast.
Went and packed up the tent which had a lot of sand and silt through it but with the trusty little dustpan, we cleaned it all up and packed up a nice dry tent.  Fortunately it hadn’t rained at all during the night and the washing we had left out was almost dry by the time we left.
The behemoth awaits....

Battling the headwind again!

So we set off at 10.30am, shortly after Phil and Liz who had gone off in search of a Decathlon store.  Overnight the wind direction had changed, from southwest to northeast, so now we had to cross that gigantic bloody bridge into a headwind AGAIN!!  But at least it was at the beginning of the day, so not quite so soul destroying.

Had a relatively easy ride into the city of La Rochelle along the cycle track and were pleasantly surprised by this port city.  It was extremely picturesque, once you’d got past the outskirts.  We had arranged to meet Phil and Liz by Tourist Info but as it happened, we met them down by the marina.  
Cycling into La Rochelle

We all had a takeaway coffee and Pete and I shared a curry chicken panini which was very nice.  Then we searched for the Tourist Info to find out what campgrounds were open further south, but they couldn’t tell us, so that was a bit of a waste of time. 
Anyway, we followed the Euro Velo 1 route south and happily anticipated the tailwind we should have all day.  However, it never seemed to eventuate.  It was a constant battle all day and only every now and then we enjoyed the benefits of a tailwind. 
We stopped for lunch at Chatelailon Plage where picnic aeas abounded.  But we needed one that was out of the wind, in the shade and preferably with a table and benches.  It took a little bit of searching but we did find a spot although we had to sit separately – which was probably for the best as Pete tends to eye up everything that’s being eaten like a vulture circling a carcass.

Ju, Pete, Elizabeth and Phil at La Rochelle

After lunch we were debating whetger to take the road or the beachside track as the signage had dried up at this critical point.  Opted for the beach and the track ran out about 200 metres along and the beach was rocky, so no option for taking the bikes across there.  In fact the whole coast today was disappointingly rocky with muddy looking water – no good for us but apparently the mussels and oysters love it, as there are plenty of farms round here.
This would have been lovely without the wind
Elizabeth negotiates a smaller bridge
A quick repair stop for Elizabeth's bike

It was here we met up with a couple of English guys in their 70’s who were cycling to the Spanish border.  We all cycled along together chatting for the most part until we got to Rochefort.  Every now and then we lost them when we got the tailwind and then they would catch us when we stopped for directions.  Reminded me of the tortoise and the hare story.  At Rochefort, they left us at the supermarket as they cycled to their hotel……..bastards.
We had set our sights on the municipal campground and hoped that it was open and were very relieved to find it was and it was only 7.50 euro per couple! Phil and Liz had set their tent up by the time we got there as I had very unwisely let Pete go into the supermarket unsupervised.  Not only did he take forever in there, we then had to pack the three kilos worth of stuff he bought. 
To our astonishment, Phil and Liz had left us the only blade of grass on the site.  We were torn – do we point out this obvious oversight, or just pitch the tent quick smart before they notice.  We opted for the latter, which was no easy task as the ground was like rock and quickly hid the grass from their view. Got showered and went and put all our cold stuff in the camp fridge and met another couple from NZ who have been touring for six months, as well as a Scottish couple they have been touring with for the last three days.  So we grabbed all our dinner provisions and went and joined them in the common room for a bit of a chat.
Elizabeth and Phil came over too and we sat outside at a table with them while we had dinner and started the blog.  However, it got cold very quickly so we didn’t stay up too late and went to bed about 9.30pm.  Uploaded the photos off the camera and hit the hay.