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.
I saw quite a number of houses with turrets, chateau cum farm house. Actually you can also see what were largely the only climbing and descending I did for a couple of days, each time the towpath came to either a bridge or a lock it would rise slightly and dip the other side. It meant you'd slow from 20ish to 10 then speed up to 28 down the other side before settling back down to the 20ish again. Unfortunately this wasn't always possible. There were two problems with both this canal and the one 1000km to the south that I'd travel later:
- barriers placed too close together and so impossible to get a bike through (a bit of a design error on a cycle path!) and also placed, too frequently, at the bottom of the slope instead of the top so you lost the descent advantage;
- thick gravel placed around all the lock keepers' houses - very difficult, and dangerous, to cycle on.
It was only about 11.30am but I was getting hungry and I'd already done a good distance so decided to stop for lunch and then stay here.
In fact I spent too much on lunch, 29€, but it was the half bottle of wine that really did it at 19€ taking the total bill to about 50€, I won't make that mistake again. But the lunch itself was good: escargot fricassée with a cream sauce followed by coq au vin with penne.
Tried to save money with a kebab for dinner but it was awful.
The town itself was, like many French towns, very pretty. The usual fantastic municipal flower planting and a number of half-timbered buildings with cobbled streets.
Rollover this image to see a map of where I am.
The campsite was very nice, clean, shaded, just next to the canal with very friendly people. I had an animated conversation with the owners about Moroccan food. Unfortunately, while I was having this conversation some mad VW Beetle owner was pitching his tent three feet away from mine and then played beep-beep games on his phone 'til late. Fortunately my ear-plugs kept him at bay and I slept like a log.