Hot hot hot!

Posted by on 30, Jul 2022 in 2022 - Camino, France, Tilly the Tandem

Hot hot hot!
Royan Fishermans huts
The floating bridge..
Bastille Day
Montaigu Castle
Montaigu old market hall
The coastal cycle path
LA Rochelle harbour
7.30 pm!! ????
Cooling off in the Nantes fountains at 9.30pm!

If you’re a climate change denier please go into the bathroom, look in the mirror then slap yourself round the face a few times and say in Captain Mainwarings voice “Stupid boy”. 

It’s getting very warm down here now and the forecast is for 39 later in the week with lows of 25 overnight, so our whole plan has changed to plot our route via Aircon hotels as a lack of sleep is disasterous for the next days cycling.  But for now it’s 35 by about 11am and we are hitting the road as close to 7:30am as we can along with all the other tourers.

Royan was the first place the weather really got hot, a very nice seaside town, well, the seafront was nice but the rest of the town was all concrete post war carbuncles as Prince Charles would say!  But it was flattened in the war so perhaps understandable.

Still, we had a nice hotel with great Aircon and set off before they’d finished cleaning the streets and the bakery’s were still shut! We actually left before the hotel served breakfast too!

But you have to as the heat is so draining.  I drank virtually an entire 1 litre bottle of coke on our first stop and we just kept drinking all day.  You don’t want to eat at lunch or dinner, but have to make yourself eat otherwise you’ll have no energy the next day. But you’re always thirsty. Always.

Oddly, Linda doesn’t dehydrate as much as me, so doesn’t drink as much. (Well, at least not in the soft drink department) Maybe all those ‘Shes not pedalling on the back’ comments have some truth in them…????

But our ride from Royan to Rochefort was lovely. We followed another excellent cycle path through woods along the coast and did get glimpses of the sea and then once we came out of the woods hit a strong headwind and that was extremely hard work in the heat in the very flat, Marais de Brouage, think the fens without any trees.  On a cooler calmer day this would be a beautiful cycle but we were glad to get through it and find trees lining the canal we followed for a short distance to our next railway path!

Our highlight of the day was the the Pont Transbordeur bridge over the Charente river to get us into Rochefort.  There are only 8 of these left in the world and they have a platform suspended by cables from an enormous overhead steel frame that then moves from one side of the river to the other.  It allowed the port traffic to move freely and replaced a ferry service.  Naturally enough it was going to be pulled down in the 70’s but some foreward thinking locals saved it and it’s now a national monument.

Rochefort itself is yet another town that you need a TARDIS for. It was a naval town and there are some enormous grand buildings all over the place that we’d  love to see back when the tall ships were moored in the harbour instead of the yachts. Oh to be Doctor Who…

From there we headed up the coast again to La Rochelle and the heat had been cranked up  another notch (Climate change deniers please return to the mirror and see the first paragraph).  We set off early and arrived early but boy was it hot. We stopped on the quay and ordered a litre bottle of water, a Orangina and a large milkshake… Just for me!

Our hotel had Aircon (of course) and we hid inside for the afternoon before venturing out for dinner.  We’ve never been anywhere as hot as that.  The buildings had sucked in the days heat and were now belting it out along with the tarmac and it felt like a sauna.

We found a little restaurant in the shade where the buildings were just glowing amber not blazing red and had a  fabulous crepe before having a walk around as the evening cooled a bit.

It’s another gorgeous town and despite the heat, was heaving… everyone having the same idea as us and only coming out once it had cooled a bit.. but we thoroughly enjoyed our stroll.

Ok, it can’t get any hotter can it? Well yes it can. Our cycle the next day to Lucon was the hottest cycle so far.  We set off early and again found ourselves cycling in the fens without any shade anywhere.  For lunch we crouched down behind a lock wall to get out of the sun and drink every bottle of drink we had before heading on. The path was a difficult canal path and we were very grateful when we arrived in Lucon at our fab BnB who had allowed us to check in at 2pm rather than the normal 5pm because of the heat and us cycling. We hid in the room worshipping the Aircon for a few hours then snuck out for a drink and pizza and chips for tea.

Our next stop was La Roche Sur Yon which as it was Bastille day, was closed and not very nice either.  We couldn’t find anywhere to eat that was open and not involving a 15 minute walk in the heat so Linda cooked pasta on our camping stove  in the room! La Roche does have a very interesting park with mechanical animals controlled by compressed air that you can play with. The hippo in the lake was our favourite and you could get him to open his jaws and wiggle his ears!  Fortunately all the kids weren’t stupid enough to be out in the sun so I got to play instead.

That was our last stop before our 3 days off in Nantes and we sat and admired the castle for a what we considered an acceptable amount of time before heading to our Aircon room for the night.

Our journey to Nantes was another lovely cycle with a coffee stop at Montaigu, another castle town that was once restyled into a Tivoli style and looks in places very Italian.  Well worth a detour and we enjoyed our coffee in the shade of the enormous 14th Century covered market. Very nice.

I may have mentioned how hot it’s been, well we ain’t seen nothing yet.  The next 2 days were due to be ridiculous (go slap yourself again Climate change Deniers) so we decided cycling in 40C would be stupid as well as dangerous so booked into a hotel with a club lounge!  Which is where we spent most of the next 2 days with very brief walks out for meals and shopping.  The lounge had free drinks and nibbles all day and light pre dinner snacks.  We had our own sofa by the end of 2 days!!

It got seriously hot with the top official temperature being 42C.  That’s hotter than a cool sauna and was ridiculously hot and unpleasant for any length of time.  For dinner we had to find an air conditioned restaurant as we couldn’t face eating outside.  We actually didn’t see a lot of Nantes, but our bums and legs were very grateful for the lack of cycling!  The main square with a large play fountain complex for kids was heaving though, and not just with kids!

Our hotel was for the first 2 nights half empty, but the last night if was full with evacuees from the horrendous fires in the Gironde, the Velodyssee cycle path went through the area and we had been there  only a few days before. It is now burning and 32K people had been evacuated so far.  It looks horrendous and watching the French news you are left with tremendous admiration for the courage and bravery of the hundreds of firemen who are fighting it clad in all their protective gear in temperatures of 44C and above.  The fire chief has described it as an Apocalypse and it certainly looks like it on the news. So, with the heat waving goodbye we headed north to cooler climes….

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