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!

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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!

Day Seven • La Rochelle

First halt of our trip, we originally decided to spend two nights in La Rochelle. Manuel has a friend to visit, as for myself I am staying at a friend’s house.

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A proper meal for a change!

As we were not going anywhere, I went to check on the different bike shops in town and finally found what I was looking for: New bicycle bags larger and better than the one I was using so far. Those were a little bit expensive but I think they are a good investment. I eventually will have my shoulders weight free.

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Checking the weather forecast we saw that rain and thunder were to expect on the following day so we decided to stay a third night in La Rochelle. We wish to be in Nantes within a week to catch a train until Tours where we are expected for a wedding.
We will see how it will go, anyway.

That’s all folks!

Day Six • Saint Trojan – La Rochelle

The day started with the heavens pissing on us, keeping us from leaving Saint Trojan early  in the morning as we had planned. The next city was supposed to be Rochefort but as we were one day in advance on our schedule our host in Rochefort could not welcome us. So we decided to pass Rochefort and directly go to La Rochelle. We left around eleven o’clock in the morning and arrived around ten o’clock with the lights and our exhausted legs.

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Rochefort

It took us a lot longer than expected because on several occasions we lost the vélodyssée path. An important thing to mention is that the vélodyssée is just an itinerary passing by a lot of different kind of roads, streets, bicycle lanes, roads too destroyed for the cars, rocky paths, sand paths etc. The sign indicating that we’re on the good way is about ten centimeters square and it can be placed literally anywhere. Sometimes the sign is missing or misplaced.

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Where to go?

Sometimes it is on the ground.
We also lost a lot of time due to mechanical issues. I got on this day two flat tires and Manuel had to leave his rear mudguard behind, the poor thing did not stand the large variety of roads.
We are now in La Rochelle and we will stay here for at least two days after this one more very long day on the road.

That’s all folks!

Day Five • Saint Denis d’Oléron – Saint Trojan

In the morning we restored our faith for the human kind while performing on a market in Saint Denis. Restoring as well our financial situation. Then my bank miraculously repaired its mistake and put back money on my account. I did not even need to call them!
Then we cleaned and fixed a bit our bicycles. On the seaside they get rusted quickly and the sand doesn’t help either so it is important that we keep them as clean as possible.
We said goodbye to our hosts and once more hit the road.
We crossed the island north to south (30 km) to meet Thierry, a friend of mine who works as an entertainer in a camping in Saint Trojan. There we performed a ninety minutes acoustic show, playing songs, explaining them, talking about the trip. The public was very receptive and it went pretty well.

Day Four • Merschers sur Gironde – Saint Denis d’Oléron

After the great night (and first night on a mattress of our journey) we woke up a bit late in the camping. Nevertheless we folded our stuff and got back on the road. Manuel and I felt on this fourth day less pain in our backs, bottoms and legs and we drove restlessly for the first hours. Our bodies seem to get used to our new way of life and it is a true relief.
We are lately experiencing difficulties on the money side. My bank took me three times the money I withdrew only once, emptying entirely my account.
Being used to the penniless life we are not in total despair but it makes our journey a little bit difficult.
In Marennes we left the vélodyssée for the two next days to spend some time on the wonderful Oléron island where we are supposed to perform our music in different places.
We arrived around seven o’clock at our couchsurfer’s place. Our host Beatrice prepared us one of the best meals of our existence.

Day Three • Montalivet – Merschers sur Gironde

During this second night in the woods we were awaken around four o’clock by a torrential rain that lasted a couple of hours. We were prepared for this eventuality and quickly set up a roof with ropes and a canvas cover. Then we waited for the rain to stop, folded our camp and hit the road with wet feet.

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Some kilometers later we boarded a boat to cross the Gironde’s estuary.
Eventually we arrived in the best camping I’ve ever seen where a friend I had not seen in the last decade offered us shelter for the night.

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Entre mer et forêt, camping féérique

We performed a short set on the camping stage, then jammed with my friend and his brother, two very talented traditional music performers and eventually ended this long day.

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My friend Aurélien, Manuel and my ugly face

That’s all folks!