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Skiing in retirement
18th May 2016 - 2nd Jun 2016 - Iberia & France by bike 2016
La France profonde

Dark skies France.

Turns out the area we are travelling through has the least light pollution in France. Which means the stars are clearly visible. Except that with 10/10 cloud cover most nights, (as well as days), they aren't.

We voted ourselves an extra day in camp at Figeac. Time to catchup with bike maintenance and laundry tasks. This cycle-touring malarky isn't always glamorous and exciting, you know. And then its off up hill into les Causses de Grammat - that's the darkest part - and a night of camping a la ferme: dry composting toilet, but an undercover seating area, before pushing on to the Dordogne via Souilac near where we bedded down on the very river bank.

Our route then took us to Sarlat-le-Caneda where, as well as eventually finding a new tyre of the right sort we also found our most expensive campsite and an unscheduled rest day t.o allow a day of heavy rain to pass overhead.

All these rest days meant we were now a bit behind schedule. So breaking away from the route in the guide book we hot-footed to Hautefort from where we travelled north along the valley of the Vienne to arrive at Confolens on 25th May.Confolens provided the opportunity to sample local fare in the form of authentic English fish and chips, with mushy peas. Oh, and a pitchet of rose.

This being the Charantes there was other evidence of Brits abroad - including an overheard conversation in a bar between an estate agent and potential clients. Seems the Brits may still be coming. But we're not. Instead we are off north to reach the Loire just to the east of Saumur and just in time to enjoy the longest wet spell of the trip so far: 15 hours non-stop rain, of which 5 spent in the saddle. All part of cycle-touring says Debs. That may be, but it doesn't mean I have to like it, says I.

We rejoin the guide book route at Challones where we cross the Loire and head resolutely north for Normandy. We've calculated that we need to average 60km a day if we want to get to UK in early June. We've also discovered that the ferry from St Malo does not go to Plymouth, only to Portsmouth. So unless we want to extend the French leg to Roscoff, that puts the kybosh on the tour of SW England. 

Having sacked the tripplanner for this incompetence we head for St Malo. We meet a few other Brit cyclists. At one obscure camping municipal 5 of us arrive within half hour of eachother. Bit like buses.

For the southbound voyagers its happy days as the northerly winds of the last few days pick up overnight to waft them to their destination. Not so us and we have a long day head down following an uncomfortably busy D road to reach Vitre on the last day of May.

Flaming June its not when we reach Combourg in Brittany. This is cider country so we make a point of varying the grape-based diet a bit. And jolly good they are too. Unfortunately the unrelenting grey skies of these days means we are not getting the best of the paysage. But the upside (or should that be silver lining?) is that we allow ourselves to sample a few more menus du jour than we might have done otherwise. And jolly good they are too.

And so to St Malo. Arriving mid-afternoon we check into our AirBnB apartment, in time to get the laundry done before heading out for cider, galettes, crepes and Calvados. Well, seems rude not to, for tomorrow we sail...........

for England.....!



Next: Prepare for departure on The North American Epic
Previous: Gorges of southern France


Diary Photos
19th May 2016  Deepest darkest France, literally
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19th May 2016  Between the Lot & Dordogne on Les Causses de Grammat
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19th May 2016  Lost in France
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19th May 2016  Gavage a le Steve
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19th May 2016  Gavage a la Debs
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19th May 2016  Camping à la ferme updating the journal
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20th May 2016  Rocamadour
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20th May 2016  Leaving Rocamadour
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20th May 2016  Above Rocamadour a fine collection of British iron: BSA, Norton, AJS, Matchless
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20th May 2016  On Les Causses de Grammat
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21st May 2016  Walnut trees in the Dordogne. A wet spring can ruin the whole crop. So best get down to Waitrose asa
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21st May 2016  Half a day only along the Dordogne
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22nd May 2016  Donkey milk soap, anyone? Is that even a thing?
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22nd May 2016  No idea why this photo
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22nd May 2016  Great conditions for escargots
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22nd May 2016  Sweet treats in Sarlat-le-Caneda
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22nd May 2016  Sarlat-le-Caneda. We ventured out after a day of rain to discover that the town had shrunk
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23rd May 2016  Stormy skies en route to Hautefort
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24th May 2016  Leaving camping Les coucous after a night of drying out in a mobil-home
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24th May 2016  Flower-filled meadows
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24th May 2016  Chateaux even this far from the Loire.
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25th May 2016  Just some cows. Spot the jersey
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25th May 2016  Sorry to have missed this production
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25th May 2016  Confolens
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25th May 2016  Entering Confolens
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25th May 2016  Fish and chips in Confolens
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25th May 2016  Fish & chips with a view
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26th May 2016  Aqueduct & bridge over the Vienne at L'isle Jourdain
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26th May 2016  Pique-nique a la ping pong in Lussac-les-chateaux
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28th May 2016  Camping Les iris after a night of storms
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28th May 2016  Tree clearance needed on the ligne verte south of Loudun
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28th May 2016  Station on the ligne verte
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29th May 2016  Debs very excited to be in a tent on a platform rather than one on the ground
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30th May 2016  Last picnic before leaving the Loire, interrupted by les messieurs aux strimmeurs et blowers
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31st May 2016  One way to keep French drivers at arm's length
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