Rochefort to Carcans

The first half of the day may well have been one of my best half days touring ever! Perfect weather, quiet roads, impressive bridges, a walled fortress town, coastal views, forest trails and a beach front ride on smooth rolling cycle track.

It took ages to complete the first third to Royan because there was so much to stop and see.

The first big delight was Brouage, a five hundred year old walled market town on the way to Marrennes. It is a bit like something out of a spaghetti western and is all the more interesting because it is so well preserved and you can walk on the walls around the town. The antique shop just inside the town’s north entrance does a fantastic coffee!

Judging by the constant stream of cyclists, this place clearly forms part of many people’s favourite local loop; not surprising really as the surrounding roads are almost totally traffic free.

Next up was the Forest of La Coubre. If there was a downside to the morning it was that the forest trails, recommended in an email from the local tourist board, which were not really suited to a touring bike.

The trails have a loose gravel surface and, being dead straight, do not take into account contours; which make them a bit of a roller coaster ride with some short sharp climbs lacking in grip. I decided to cut my losses and take the shortest route back to the main road which was beautifully smooth and relatively free of traffic.

The last part of this near perfect morning was the coastal section from La Palmyre to Royan which was largely based on a smooth cycle path right next to the beach with plenty of opportunities to stop and eat.

However, with the thirty minute role-on role-off Royans to Port-Du-Verdon ferry out of the way, things became less enjoyable. The wind was in my face and the traffic was heavy and close.

I recall the looking at the dead straight roads when planning the trip and thinking “that wont be much fun if the wind is blowing the wrong way” and I was right!

The stark contrast between the morning and afternoon proved to be something of a theme on this tour.

Got to Carcans at 130K and saw the word ‘Auberge’ written on the pub opposite the only roundabout in town and decided that was enough for today. It turned out not to be the low cost affair I anticipated but, having stopped, I wasn’t in the mood to look around and the restaurant served up a good value meal.

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Day:4 of 15
Date:22 July 2007
Distance:130 KM
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