Monday, August 02, 2010

France: South West

So over the Pyranees we went into France. There wasnt even a sign to indicate the border, we only knew for sure we were in France when people started greeting us with Bonjour rather than ola.

The Pyranees and Spain well behind us
 We spent a few day biking through French Basque country, avoiding the rain and eating heaps of the tastiest, softest, freshest pastries I have ever had. We then got to Salies de Bearn which was to be the starting place for Stage 18 of the Tour de France.

The chaos before the race
The Tour was nuts. The night before the town was pretty much deserted, then in the morning the Tour Caravan rolled in with all the support crews and hundreds of sponsors vehicles. It was about 4 hours of watching sponsors and officials speeding up and down the road before the cyclists zipped past.

The front line of the Tour de France
The day after the Tour did the stage we followed their lead and managed to get 123kms of the 198km stage done in a day... but we stopped for a longer lunch and many more snacks than Lance did.

Farms, trees and the occasional pretty town... thats rural France

So we hit St Emilion. which is a old town in the middle of the Bordeaux wine region. This made for nice rolling hills and plenty of wine tastings. We took a day to explore the area on our bikes with none of our gear on, it was so much lighter and easier!

The view from St Emilion over the vineyards

From St Emilion we rode another big day to Perigeux. Then from Perigeux north into the Dordogne region, more hills than we normally like, but lots of really nice town and chateaux.

Just a 7th century church in a field of sunflowers...

We then looked at a map a realized that we cant possibly do bike the 1000 odd kiliometers to Germany and have time to explore there, so are now taking the odd train and about to bike through the Loire Valley from here in Tours. Oh, and we have now hit 2000kms of cycling, I dont know about you, but I am impressed!

Confloens: One of many pretty towns.