I came out of the hotel in Bourges this morning to find the out of the way corner I parked my bike in had become part of a sidewalk table service for the bakery next door. Oops!
People park bikes on the sidewalk in Germany all the time, but I guess that's not how it works in Bourges. I did have breakfast there, first cold chocolate croissant I've been served in France. Ugh.
Hit the road about 8:30AM and saw this just half an hour into the day.
Stuff like this all around my route. In fact all over France, one of the things I love about this place. If I'm not careful I'll never get there. But I did stop at a few places.
Including the LeClerc store. My riding pants have ben riding up on me, coming up far enough to expose the tops of my boots to cold blasts or air. I thought if I could find some elastic cord, I could make something like a stirrup to keep them down. Ended up buying a pack of girls hair bands for 2 Euros and tying them into a stretchy string, but it does seem to help.
Even better would be remembering to try the next pair on while sitting on a bike. While standing they're fine, but not the same as riding.
My first waypoint today was the battlefield of the Battle of Tours in 732.
Read all about it elsewhere, but many historians seem to think this was a real pivot point in European history, the stop of the northward attack of the Moors. The hero on the Frankish side became the grandfather of Charlemagne, who united much of western Europe in 800AD. I learned some of what I thought I knew about this battle wasn't completely true (often the way it goes) but have to say the presentation site, while out of the way, is really neat. Cartoons laid out like a chess board.
Then on around Poitiers and headed for Saint Emilion. Which is a Bordeaux wine, in fact most of the Bordeaux I've had comes from here, but it's not where the super famous Chateaus are. That was too far out of the way on the other side of the river, with no bridge and a ferry that only runs once every 90 minutes this time of year.
St. Emilion is a nice little town full of well-dressed tourists and expensive shops. Reminds me of Montalcino, Italy and Chateauneuf-du-Papes over on the Rhone.
And while I can appreciate that, I'm not really into that kind of touring, especially alone. But it was a sunny day, the wine bars were open, and I thought about staying and calling it a day. It was 5pm, so I could have 'knocked off' work by then and not feel lazy. And I could have eaten here!
Saw tulips blooming for the first time today in St. Emilion, too.
This is the lobby of the Maison du Vin. Wow.
But I didn't do it. I should have. I got on the bike and rode around the city of Bordeaux to the Dune du Pilat, the largest sand dune in Europe (I've read). 160 steps up and then climbing the rest of the way on the sand.
At least it stayed out of my boots! This was my first view of the atlantic in quite a while, and I've never been there on a bike on either shore. When I move back to Ohio in September I'll have to take a riding road trip to the East Coast and take a look at the Atlantic from the other side.
An apt description, but also my lovely wife's name. Hi babe!
After that I rode past lots of half-empty hotels and headed south on the motorway. Knowing the forecast is for rain tomorrow, I wanted to get so miles on. Along the way I searched the GPS for hotels, but came up with slim pickings. I got off the highway at a small town that looked promising anyway and found I couldn't get back on. And the two 'Auberge" places were in fact trucker restaurants. Finally found a nice little hotel with a great smelling restaurant. But they were full up. And so was the next one and the next one. I ended up riding in a big "C" shape, and after an hour and a half am now only 30 km from the dune. Some days are like that. At least I found some decent dinner, even if the house wine wasn't Grand Cru from St. Emilion.
Tomorrow to Rioja, if the weather isn't crappy.