Day 16

Marans. Just north of La Rochelle.

It wasn’t as wet today, nor was it as far, but it certainly was windy!

The Garmin did its best to make up for yesterday’s failures by showing me a route to Saint Michel-en-l’Herm along quiet, Saturday morning roads. These offered more shelter from the wind than the Velodyssey route promised. That route took the coastal path across the marshes and I didn’t fancy riding it in the surprisingly blowy conditions.

I was emboldened in this enterprise by the wearing of my new “casque de velo.” I had foolishly left my cycle helmet and gloves at the hotel in St Jean de Monts so had to buy new ones in Les Sables.

I think I cut quite a dash in my new, all white, casque as this ghostly image in a lifeguard’s hut window shows: imageI am reliably informed by the Monsieur with whom I shared coffee today that I can be seen from about 1 km on a straight road in my white hat and my hi-viz waterproof jacket. Safety first!

After the coffee break in Saint Michel I set the Garmin a route back onto the Velodyssey which it promptly ignored and I was off in the wrong direction for about 7kms.

I realised that I was heading the wrong way because the southerly wind was blowing me along and, though not a sailor, I know that means I was heading north when I should be heading south(ish).

Error corrected, I now headed back in the teeth of a gale along the canals of the marais and was back on track within an hour. The Garmin, now sulking, took about 40 minutes to calculate the route already stored in its memory so I had to navigate by following the trackside signs which are not all that frequent or clearly placed. I was relieved to get confirmation that I was now heading in the right direction and that I had entered a new Department, La Charente Maritime.

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Back on course, I now had to cycle the most remote part of the trip so far along small canals and a dyke with a very narrow path.

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In the strong winds it was hard to stay on track and I had my first cycle related mishap when the bike was blown over by the wind as I photographed some sheep!

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No damage done, I carried on. Finally, along a long straight stretch of canal, Marans’ strange church spire came in to view and I made it to tonight’s lodgings.

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It is still not camping weather and so, for a change, I have booked into a chambre d’hôtes which promises a fine organic breakfast.  Those of you who remember chambres d’hôtes from your early days of travel in France would be warmed by the decor and general feel which harks back to the good old days of the 50s. Disappointingly, there is no carpet on the walls. Tomorrow it will be a hotel in La Rochelle using my specially purchased vouchers from the watch forum……..It’s too complicated to explain!

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