Auxerre to Agen
Another recumbent bike epic across France. There seems to be a theme developing, accidentally, but based on European Bike Express' collection points; the last one was B to B (Beaune to Barcelona), this one is A to A.
Having gone down the east of France and over the Massif Central last year this year I thought I'd explore the westerly area a little more. So, this trip went from Auxerre, followed the Canal du Nivernais to Decize, went west towards Chateauroux and Le Blanc then Poiter, followed La Vienne river skirting Angouleme, Limoge and Perigeux to get to La Reole, finally following the Canal Entre Deux Mers to Toulouse and a bit beyond before returning to Agen for the coach journey home.
About 1,500km in all.
Three things of interest here, the boulangerie/patisserie, the bike, and the unusual municipal flower planting.
Patisseries have to be the greatest cycling resource, you can get savoury pies, flans and cakes, bread and biscuits, but also croissants aux amandes. I love croissants aux amandes.
I can't remember where this was, I'm really looking forward to having geo-tagging on my phone. What I do remember was the very nice jambonneau with tomatoes and bread followed by cherry flan and pain aux raisins that I ate on the steps of this church.
It was before 8.00am and no one was about until, that is, a guy from the council turned up to put up various notices on the board next to the church. It seems common practise in France to simply get out of your vehicle and leave the engine running. So, I ate for the first 20 minutes to the slow chugging of a Renault Dyane. Though he did wish me 'bon appetite' before driving off.
I thought I'd take this photo as I cycled away from my breakfast spot, of the view I have in front of me on the bike. My watch to the left, the GPS, which greatly eased the problems I had last year when navigating the miriad of tiny, unsigned commune roads which I follow, and, on the right, the cycle computer for speed and distance info.
So, hilly, coarse tarmac and increasingly hot at around 35°C meant I was burning and liquid, large expanses of open wheat fields didn't help since everything seemed to move by so slowly. At one point I thought I had a problem with the bike, I could hear a popping noise that didn't seem linked to speed or pedal revolutions. It turned out to be bubbles of melting tar that I was bursting as I rode over them; that's how hot it was!
There were some long, cool, forest roads but to stop, or even slow down, meant you were swarmed with aggressive flies trying to get up your nose and in your eyes.
The forests seemed to be largely owned by abbeys, since, of course, any organisation that tries to propose a religion where poverty and charity are prized, is going to need a boat load of money to do it.
Lunch was an expensive 16€ for only 2 merguez, pork chops and potatoes, though it was very nice.