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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.

Locks

And then here's a lock, though not all of them have a handy white line down the centre.  The white line is probably indicative of the number of cyclists/pedestrians that there can be at times, especially weekends.

 

Houses

Oh, I forgot to mention buildings.  That's the other thing you see.  I wonder if my growing sense of bordom, ennuie is starting to show?  It did start to be a problem for me, there just isn't so much happening when you're following the canal.  Which is restful.

In fact, and this wasn't so common, one of the buildings was a restaurant just next to the canal and so I stopped to have lunch.  Nothing special, whitebait, followed by something I don't remember, with a petit pichet de rosé.

I also met a couple of people, a group of english people on their boat who were interested in the bike, and then the same french couple I'd met days earlier when I'd stopped to buy some honey - they were going to the Tourmalet to see a bit of the Tour de France.

 

By now I'd done 90km and it was hot, really hot in fact, with little shade for the last hour, and I just didn't fancy another three or four hours towards Toulouse in search of a campsite.  So, the nice woman who ran the Tourist Office here at Boé said it was OK to sleep on the grass behind it.  There were toilets and, for 1€, a shower I could use.  The only downside was that I couldn't put up my tent until after 6.00pm.

It turned out to be a lovely place to camp.  The park with a few swings, which is just to the left emptied, and I had the place to myself.  Until a belgian couple showed up an hour or so later.  They had really nice Farhad bikes and had cycled here from Belgium taking in the Dordogne and the Lot valleys on the way.

Then a french couple who I'd seen several times during the day.  They were riding old french shopping bikes.  I asked them if they were following me and they said 'perhaps'.  It became a bit of a running joke since I saw them again and again over the next few days. 

So, only two other tents, one of which was so far away I couldn't see it, with lots of space and good views.  If you rollover this image you'll see a view back towards the canal.

 

House Boats

This is also back towards the canal from my tent.  The trees, very fragrant and full of bees, were limes.  The leftmost houseboat you see was owned by a nice fellow who put my Powermonkey to charge.  If I haven't already explained the Powermonkey is a battery that I can charge and then use to charge everything else, like my iPod, phone and GPS.  Thing is, I have to charge it at least once a day since the GPS is a power hog and needs a complete Powermonkey charge every day.  Consequently, getting the Powermonkey charged is a daily task, and a nice one, in that I have to go and ask someone to do it, and that inevitably leads to conversation.

The French guy from the houseboat I didn't really get to chat to, he was busy when I gave it to him and on the phone when I collected it back an hour and a half later.  Pity, his boat looked great, very spacious with only a kitchen, a stereo, and a bed with mosquito net on it.  He was listening to Chopin and reading Proust, so the very model of a Frenchman.