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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.

Bad day

I wish I could remember what the name of this town on the horizon is, I think it was Villebois-Lavalette.  It was getting hillier and hotter again and I'd run out of water.  The landscape is wide with big long hills, nice in descent but harder work getting up them, especially in the sun.

I got to the town but everything seemed closed, all except a small tabac in the centre, just opposite a nice looking chambre d'hote.  I went in, looking hot and sweaty and asked, in my nicest French, if the lady might fill my water bottle for me. 

She replied: 'no'.

I was stunned, I simply thanked her, wished a nice day, and left.  I later found the tourist office, who were as nice as pie and filled my water bottle and gave me instructions about nearby campsites - that there were none in the direction I was going, at least for some distance.  They were also amazed that anyone could be so rude and heartless.

Still, I suppose if you've never walked any distance, or travelled in any other way than in a car, you might not realise how important water is.  It's probably a modern variant on 'let them eat cake'.

 

Big Skies

It was now about half four and since I'd started about half six, after almost ten hours on the bike I was getting a little weary.  But, my goodness, the landscape was uplifting.

There was no sign of any campsite but I did bump into a couple of cyclists, who turned out to be English.  One of them, who lived about 5km away, offered to let me camp on their lawn, an offer I was very grateful for.  However, it was 5km back the way I'd cycled and I just couldn't bear the thought of re-climbing those same hills and then doing the same again tomorrow, so I thanked him profusely but peddled on.  I was resolved to just wild-camp.

 

Gurat, perhaps

Not sure where this is, I think it might be Gurat but I'm not really sure.  I'm really looking forward to getting GPS tagging on my camera-phone so I know where the photos are.

 

Near Gurat

Finally, a campsite, and was I ready for it, it was about 5.30 when I finally stumbled upon it, eleven hours - a longish day.  It was just near Gurat, run by English people, though they were just selling it.  Perhaps its name, 'Le Petit Lion' was a clue.  It was nice enough, quiet, with a swimming pool that I used wearing my undies.  It was strange though, speaking English rather than French.

A dutch cyclist, following a Compostella route, rolled in later, he'd also had a 100km+ day.

Ate the remnants of my goats cheese bought a couple of days before with some bread.  My cherries had gone mouldy, so I only had two to eat, will need some Energy Bars to get started in the morning!