Bonjour France!

Posted by on 21, Jul 2022 in 2022 - Camino, France, Tilly the Tandem

Bonjour France!

The trouble with the French border is that’s just about where the cycle track ends and the mad French drivers begin. We’ve been lulled into a false sense of security by the excellent, courteous and patient Spanish drivers and the impatient uncaring French drivers came as a real shock to us. They were so desperate to get pass us they sat within a few centimetres of the bikes rear wheel and would squeeze past even with cars coming the other way if they thought there was a centimetre of room.

After about the 4th car doing this in a kilometre, we pulled off the road and put our flag pole out sideways with the French Tricolour prominent. This meant that if they wished to squeeze past us they could no longer do so without going into the oncoming lane and it immediately deterred the impatient ones. It’s odd how if it’s a cyclists life the driver couldn’t care less, but if it’s their own paintwork they take much more care!

The road from the border to Biaritz – the Corniche – is a lovely road but it’s hilly and slow for cyclists and last time we did it we got hooted, carved up and it was seriously unpleasant, so this time we headed further inland on to bigger hills (what’s wrong with us!), but they were car free and the views were great too.

We had broken the cycle to Biaritz into two days as the prices for hotels until the Sunday night were outrageously astonomical. When we rolled up in Biaritz we found why – the Wheels and Waves motorcycle show was on its last day and the place was heaving with thousands of motorcyclists.

So we had a very quick walk around the town and a nice pizza before the rain arrived and adjourned to our quiet hotel room for the evening, leaving the motorcyclists to whizz around at full throttle..

Leaving Biarritz the next day, we joined the Velodyssee cycle route that goes all the way up the coast and is almost entirely on cycle tracks. Good, no more nutters in cars trying to kill us.

For large sections the cycle route follows old railways and winds its way through woods within a hundred meters of the sea, but you never get to see it for the trees!

The coast here is filling up ready for the school holidays next week and the path is more like the M1 of cycle tracks with lots of small groups out cycling for the day or on tour. There were even school cycle trips! We are slow cyclists and we stop lots to look at things, take photos, coffee, check the map etc, so we hadn’t really anticipated we would be overtaking much. But it turns out when we are moving we actually go faster than all but the racer boys and we ended up having to wait for suitable spaces before we overtook groups to avoid ploughing into the oncoming hordes. (I know it’s an unusual concept for French drivers to understand). But it was nice to know even with our fully loaded Tilly we still went faster than the youngsters!! (Well most of them!)

We’ve actually done this route before on our Gibraltar to UK cycle so decided this time we would head more inland and follow a different railway cycle path in different trees instead.  It’s lovely and peaceful but it is at times so straight you’d swear the Romans had built it and it gets a bit dull and repetitive and it’s far less busy than the coastal route, but there were still a smattering of tourers to wave to from time to time.

We managed our second camping night of the tour – hotels and comfy beds are just more and more appealing the older you get and the more you realise you don’t have many years left to spend your kids inherritence!

The campsite was nearly empty – it was a Naturelle site (no not nudist!) Rural and peaceful, well almost peaceful. There was one Swiss German family who had 3 kids around 4 to 8 who were of the school of let-your-kids-find-their-own-boundaries. So the kids screamed and cried non stop for hours on end all over the campsite whilst the parents sat by their van completely ignoring them until the owner wandered over and told them they had to leave the next day as their parenting skills were appalling. That did quiet them down a bit, but not much, but fortunately they went to bed and the site descended into a tranquility it should have been the whole time.

I even got to see the Milky way when I had to get up to go to the loo in the middle of the night, as there was no light pollution. Fabulously gorgeous and well worth the need to get out of the tent for a nature call!!

We carried on up the coast along the forest tracks and eventually said goodbye to the Roman Railways through the woods and rejoined the coast squeezing in a day off at a tiny non tourist village which was great and very relaxing as the French 3Bs (bakery/boulangie/bar) were opposite us and the back garden had a hottub…Perfect!

With the temperatures starting to rise for the forecasted heatwaves, we headed for the ferry across the Gironde River to Royan, a busy seaside town, with packed beaches of red bodies…and stocked up on factor 50 for what we now knew was coming over the next few days…

One Comment

  1. Like the strategy to avoid getting cut up and realisation that your slow and steady is actually athletic. Keep cool.

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