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 came back from my day ride and met my new camping neighbour, Marie-Laure. She needed to go into Port Saint Marie to buy a few things, and since I was becoming quite expert in getting there and back, and I'd forgotten to get something for my dinner, I offered to ride in with her. Unfortunately the super was shut. Still.
'Still' because it was great to meet her, we talked about god, the meaning of life, language, zen and cycling. In short, almost all of the topics dear to my heart, oh, and we laughed a lot. She comes from Tarn and speaks Occitan, which, unfortunately, fewer and fewer people do, lectures in Theology specialising in the Talmud. I think I've got that right. I really must work on my French.
This photo though, I mention this in the interests of historical accuracy, was taken the next morning when she was packing up to continue her journey towards La Réole. I didn't need to start until later, today being my day for getting the European Bike Express back to Blighty.
Agen take two
By now I was getting to know Agen quite well and I knew at least three potential ways of getting to the departure point near the Campanile Hotel. This wasn't near any of them, I was just killing time, looking for a market if there was one, and waiting for lunchtime.
I found a market, I'd stopped to ask a very nice woman who I'd seen carrying bread if there was a bakers nearby and she told me there was, near the market. Having first, I must add, offered me some of her own bread should I want it.
I found the market and, more importantly, the straw basket I'd been hoping to find. So, my bike now looked even more realistically French, now I had a straw bag strapped above my panniers
There is a major road running along the side of the Garonne, the road here known as Les Berges, and on Sunday it's closed to all motorised traffic. It took a while to find out how to get onto it but once I had I spent some time cycling up and down it. I weaved in and out of the dotted line. I dillied, I dallied, I sauntered and ambled. It was great.
It was like cycling after that nuclear holocaust, or after the petrol crisis has really struck home.
Still just me
This is the view west as I finish one of several up and down trips. I did actually see a few other people, though not many at all. Apparently it was very popular when the cycling mayor first introduced it. I saw an inline skater and a couple of pedestrians. Though, strangely, the pedestrians still stuck to the verges whereas I think I would have walked down the middle of the road.