Category Archives: Travels

A month has passed

A month has passed since we left Bordeaux. First I must apologize because I could not hold this trip diary as I intended to, for several reasons. As I am not looking for excuses I will start with the most accurate: lazyness. Writing day after that we pedaled started to be annoying and even when something was actually happening I did not feel the need to take a break and write it down on my cellphone. Also my cellphone on which I was writing the drafts mysteriously ‘swallowed’ several posts I had prepared and I did not feel the need to write those again. Last but not least, it was easy at first to find Wifi spots on our road but when we quit the tourist trail while leaving the velodyssee it became more and more a trouble, so we mostly focused on other priorities such as eating, finding places to perform our music and places to sleep rather than finding Wifi spots at all cost. From now on I’ll try to write on a regular basis but I prefer to forget about the idea of a day to day basis, and as my cellphone is not a very good memory holder I’ll just wait until we do some breaks to tell you some of our great moments.

After we left our new friends La Dérive we reached Saumur and stayed two days with skydivers couchsurfers. We also found ourselves a gig in “Le café du marché” who accepted to program us on a very short notice. As usual we filled our bellies and played for the crowd, filling a little bit our hat with shiny coins.

Then we carried on our way with no major troubles, we slept in the woods next to the river before arriving in Angers. Nothing special there, beside torrential rains who left Manuel with wet shoes and running nose. We waited til Manuel got better to carry on our way, we stopped in Ancenis and performed on market day, getting enough coins to buy food and new tire for Manuel, the old one still remembered its encounter with the drunken scooter in Tours and suddenly refused to do its job properly, exploding one after the other our precious stock of inner tubes.

After we performed in Ancenis we received a mail from a family who had seen our performance on the market and wanted to invite us for a rest on our way, we gladly accepted. We did not get disappointed, we got fed, dressed and got missing pieces of equipments we had needed from the start of our journey. It felt really good to benefit the help of this generous family for a day, but we had to thank them goodbye to carry on our way.

We are now in Nantes, where we planned to halt a bit longer, to play and prepare ourselves for our next big gig, Fred’O’Rock Festival in Guenrouet on the 13rd of september. We also found ourselves a performance in a restaurant/bicycle workshop called La Musette where we will play in exchange of some lunch and repairs on our bicycles. You can find the details of those performances on the dedicated page of this blog.

That’s all folks!

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Day Twenty One • Tours – Bréhémont

Leaving Tours was good for our heads. We were happy there but somehow it felt strange to not be on the move during a whole week.
With light hearts we rode thirty kilometers, our legs nicely reminded us that for seven days we had not used them much. Once again nobody was expecting us for the night, we decided to push it as far as Bréhémont and find a place to set our camp. While having an early dinner on a picnic table we met a man passing by who told us that about eighty artists were taking residence in Bréhémont in order to prepare a festival. He also told us that we were very welcome to stay for the night, which we did.

Their association is called La Dérive, their goal for this year is:
_To build rafts able to go down the Loire river from Bréhémont to Nantes out of recycled materials.
_Navigate down the river during the weekdays with the rafts and a couple of boats they own.
_During the weekends offer artistic performances in the cities that will cross their path.

On the docks they installed their workshop, we watched them at work for a couple of hours. Several people came to offer them materials, advice, informations or to ask for information about their initiative.

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We were lucky enough to assist at la mise à l’eau of one of the rafts, Le pégase who despite his heavy gas bottles proudly floats and can embark up to four people.
After this happy event, we were invited to share the dinner with everyone at their camp, and we nicely slept under the big tent.

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That’s all folks!

Day Thirteen • Beauvoir sur Mer – Tours

We woke up half surprised half relieved that nobody bothered us during the night in an abandoned warehouse we had found shelter in Beauvoir. The closest train station was still 16 km far, Manuel bravely drove this distance on his almost undriveable bike and we arrived in Challans where the bicycle trip ended. We took tickets to Tours and had to take two different trains to get there. Unfortunately the first train experienced technical issues and we got blocked in the train station of Nantes for five hours. The train company offered us what they called lunch boxes but I would be ashamed to call those food.

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Eventually we got to Tours and found the bar where we were to meet a friend that could host us.

That’s all folks!

Day Twelve • Bretignolles sur Mer – Beauvoir sur Mer

A day in hell should be the proper title of this post. We left Bretignolles in the morning fighting the strong wind all day long. We had rain, a lot of it. The dirt paths hurt our bicycles a lot. At some point, following the vélodyssée, we found out that the road we were supposed to take was flooded by the tide. We had to wait for twelve hours or turn over. Over thirty kilometers driven for nothing.

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We chose the second option. Nobody was expecting us on the way, we tried to push it as far as our bodies could. But at last it was Agosto, Manuel’s bike that decided to end our day. The frame somehow folded for no reason and Manuel tripped because he could not steer. It happened in Beauvoir sur Mer around eight o’clock. Fortunately Manuel is perfectly fine, as is his guitar. But the poor bike can’t ride properly anymore. We found a restaurant with wifi, had some dinner, then decided what to do. The wedding is a rendez-vous we can’t miss. Also In the mighty city of Tours we can find an associative workshop to build a new bike for Manuel. So we decided to stop the trip and take a train until Tours. Another thing I haven’t talked about here is a pain in my left hand. I will take profit of this halt to check it out. Maybe one more time I broke bone without noticing it. It would not be the first time.
That’s all folks!

Day Ten • La Tranche sur mer – Bretignolles sur Mer

We woke up sheltered by Pedro’s cabin on the beach, gathered our stuffs and once more hit the road leaving a note for Pedro.

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Pedro's cabin

Manuel said about this day that it was the hardest of our trip so far. We had to fight strong winds, we also had rain for a short time and Manuel broke one of his bicycle bags. We paused for lunch in a restaurant in Les Sables d’Olonne to fill our bellies and get some wifi. Since we passed in the region Vendée it became hard for us to connect. Usually we get wifi in the tourism offices but in Vendée those require a SMS activation to connect. And we still don’t have a phone number.
We fought against the wind all day long and eventually reached our destination, Bretignolles, where Romane, a friend of mine hosted us in her family. We decided to spend two nights there in order to recover. This day was indeed a tough one.

That’s all folks!

Day Nine • La Rochelle – La Tranche sur mer

We left La Rochelle in the late morning and once more lost the vélodyssée, so we just tried to keep the ocean on our left side and be patient about the furious passing cars. Few hours later, we changed of region, leaving Poitou Charentes for la Vendée and eventually we found back the vélodyssée.
I’ve told you how ridiculously small were the vélodyssée signs. We’ll in Vendée they’re just a mere sticker about five centimeters square. The game just got spicier.
We decided to halt for the night in La Tranche sur Mer, but nobody expected us there. By some kind of miracle I asked directions to a local and chatted a bit. He told me that a guy named Pedro built a cabin on the beach and that he loved to offer drinks to the traveling cyclists. We found the cabin and Pedro, the cabin is actually a nice beach bar.

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Pedro's cabin

We got our drinks, then performed a little show for the customers and Pedro invited us to stay for the night, after securing the roof against the rain.

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Pedro on his roof

That’s all folks!

Day Eight • La Rochelle

For this last day in La Rochelle, we decided to busk a little while in La Rochelle so inquired about the best place to do so. Apparently, musicians often play under the “grosse horloge” in the port. It’s close from a street with passing cars but the building itself has an awesome natural acoustic. When we got there a violinist was already using the spot so we waited in a café until he was done.

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We are now writing on our cardboard that we pedaled from Bordeaux to get there. The further we are the better the story is working. We performed about an hour and a half and decided to get back to our host’s but the sky had other plans so we got stuck in the port of La Rochelle for several hours by torrential rain that never seemed to end. Eventually we took the road under the rain and managed to get home. Of course five minutes after we got back the rain stopped and the sun laughed at us.

That’s all folks!