The changing architecture of homes and in the old quarter businesses of Rennes. It is a city worth another visit. I had read of the differences in Bordeaux, here you can see it instantly and in the suburbs (small villages) the new homes are very different from the homes in the south. In the south are all one story, spread out and with pink stucco, here they are 2 stories of off white stucco and some even have basements. The local stone used in the old village barns, homes & Chateaus is darker and the cement ( I am not sure if it is cement) can be seen distinctly where as in our home in the south it definitely is a mixture of rubble and who knows what else used as glue for the massive rocks.
Visiting a culture that is thousands of years old that has changed from local markets with unique trades that create diverse products, to trading globally by traveling on foot, then boat, then train, then car, and now airplane. I left Mossiac with instructions to try the canal route. I was like superman flying along the canal on one side and the Garonne River on the other. The scenery is not great in March as the buds are just starting to show however, there are spots that look like they are out of a story book.
The flaw with the canal is that it does not have much traffic & at Klm 75 I was getting desperate for a place to stay. I ha tried 2 villages and not even a hotel. I pulled out on of my map on Aquitaine and saw the road about 5 klm away and off I went into the wind. Then at klm 86 I saw a huge Chateau and a sign “Chambre d’hôtes”. I was met by the local artisan who happens to be the wife and owner. She spoke elegant French and I misunderstood the rate and ended up paying 75 Euros for the night not 35 that I heard. Her husband is the consigner who drove me to, and from, the nearest village 3 klm away for dinner. A great elegant place, Pictures to come later.
I am frustrated with the lack of time to create these blogs as my days are spent trying to cover the klms, check emails, and then dinner and sleep; awaking in the night to complete this as groggy as I am. Therefore I can claim if my spelling or logic is inconsistent then blame it on my sleepless disrupted nights.
The French love to beautify the landscapes in every village with sculptures whether current of traditional. These are some of the delights that delight your eyes every little park . While not everyone appreciates the investments by the governments they really make riding distractions. Fortunately (for me) this blog is not democratic and the opinions are of the author. You can only make comment after the fact.
The road is flat and very few hills I seemed to be gliding along and arrived 70 Klms later at Mossiac. A stop for the pilgrims going to Santiago de Compostela a pilgrimage to St. Jacques de Compostelle. The story I was told by the pilgrim who was staying at the (delightful rooms at reasonable prices) told me is that St. James one of the disciples lived here and this is one of the three Catholics places (Rome & Jerusalem) in the world you must visit. Just like Muslims going to Meca, I went with the pilgrim & the owners to a service with singing by the six nuns who make the city of 12,000 better as a result of their contribution. The Abby has unique statues for the 12 place of the cross instead of original paintings; Beautiful. The pilgrim is the girl in blue with walking stick a vetinarian & new mother with a 9 month baby walking the Chemin while dad cares for the baby.
Way of St. James
Being able to catch up on rest and not concern myself with the goal of how far do I have to travel to met my objective by May 7 was delightful. Toulouse is really a southern French city that is diverse and multicultural. I woke up as usual (04:30) look out the window to see a group of men (Arabian?) (6-9) in the fast food place across the road. It drove home the difference in ages (mine & theirs) and how pockets of ethnics groups are the same the world over. I remember growing up in the Italian enclave in Hamilton Ontario and realized that the immigrants of all nationalities migrating anywhere will group together and then meld in after 2 generations. This diversity is what makes Canada such a great place to live. Not perfect but better than anywhere I have seen.
Sunday Day 6
I left Toulouse invigorated and rode with the wind at my back. Spring is arriving and the road ahead looked greener. I could smell the early morning dew on the grass a wet warm green spice. I actually hear different birds chirping. Now I need to prove to Tony C that I actually was doing this ride not sitting in a bar guzzling wine and having a great laugh. Therefore the views of the trees, flowers and fields of new vegetables.
A rest day: Over the years one of the question that causes discussions by environmentalist in the one that does a bath use more water then a shower. Now after 10 days spent on my bike (includes practice days) I needed to have a hot bath to get a thermal treatment to my throbbing muscles. With a steaming half filled tub I sank to bliss. This is my first bath in at least 15 years being a confirmed shower person. Now I can say with conviction that a bath takes more water, however, it gives greater satisfaction to declare that ecology is irrelevant when you ache and you can get relief for your body. The bottom line is that they both do not take a lot of water and give great pleasure. Therefore I have moved on and spent the day walking around in the rain with a warm glow. Below are some of the sights of the Rose city Toulouse.
What a difference a day makes! I awoke with renewed energy had a great breakfast at the chamber d’hotel. (Barry W keeps telling me to eat a lot as I am burning calories) . I started early (takes about 20 minutes to load up bike) and the first hill was easy!!! Really a hill, then flat. The wind was at my back I cover the first 17 klm in 40 minutes. Then through Castelnaudary following road signs towards route to Toulouse—OPPS leads to super highway—Tried to stop in gravel—couldn’t fell off bike—into loose mushy earth & grass—rolled a bit, got up and shook myself off. Fantastic soft-landing, just a few scratches on bike (me too). Hated that my new bike yet.
I am averaging 20 klm per hour & no pain THE SOFT SEAT COVER IS WORKING WELL. Arrive at Villefrance about 33 klms from Toulouse. Found the local’s hotel (Hotel De France) for lunch & parked bike in garage (always afraid it will get stolen) . Plat de Jour-entree plat -11 Euros. I could not understand the entre choices and went with what waitress said was great. I hate liver, she delivered liver salad WHAT A SURPRISE mouth watering chunks of liver in a sauce that made me not want it to finish, The plat was fish nothing compared to the “salad de foie de volaille“chicken liver salad really sounds better in French .Don’t you just love the language. Back on the road to Toulouse arrived 16:30, 77km riding time at 20km per hour. Arrived at Hotel IBIS Hotels of choice for me to get internet, warm, and clean rooms at reasonable price. I am averaging about 70 Euros per day including lunch. Tomorrow is going to be a rainy day and I am going to take a day off and sightsee this great southern city.
I had hoped that I would be able to start a dialogue about People, Places, and Culture, however up until now I have been focused upon getting through the day and resting at night. I suppose the difference with going to a place for 2 weeks and riding for 2 months is the need to keep you small amount of clothing from developing moss/fugus and stopping them from feeling like card board . There is the necessity to wash your socks, underwear and light weight T shirts before they smell like many of the people on the Paris metro. I cannot wear a pair of socks for more than one day & I packed 3 different types of socks and the ones from Mountain Coop have become my favourite. Luckily I have 2 pairs, however they are thick and do not dry easily. I am carrying 2 boxes of tide (sample size) in a zip lock bag to accommodate this necessity.
Tonight the heat did not seem to work and I was hesitant to wash because wet socks add weight to my load. YES I am aware of ounces since the added weight on my sore derrière. The same issue relates to underwear and I am already down to one pair as I threw out the other 2 pairs as they did not wash well and were uncomfortable as I only wear then in the evenings. Another story for another day.
Got a late start (11:00) immediately started to feel the head wind in my face. Then the hills started, I was keeping a good pace until today and had to stop every 30 minutes to massage my legs. I lasted until Montreal. It is a 260 metre hill and I tried to find a place to stay finally gave up had lunch and got a reservation in Fanjeaux another hill village 280 metres in the sky. I walked the entire hill. Stopped ¾ way up and looked at my maps and realized these hills are not even shown on the Michelin Maps, The balance of the next 6 days are beside ( a cote) the Pyrenees mountains (foothills) and I realized I would not be able to handle those foothills as I am struggling with the ordinary hills. C’est la vie. I climbed the hill then went back down to the Chambre d’hote and decided that the best place to go was to Toulouse and onto the Bordeaux. The challenge then became how would my legs hold out for the next leg of 80Klm (all of these numbers are estimates until I ride the roads}.
I am now 2 days into trip and the main issue is now my bike saddle I set my objective to get a cover to take the shock of the road as I did not anticipate the extra weight of my backpack impacting on the muscles in my derriere. I took over 2 hours to locate the Decathlon bike shop .and got a real spongy one. Then rest of afternoon was taken with Skype sales meeting (not good reception) and Anthony retyped comments as meeting went along. I got up early and took some pictures for the Cabbagetown newsletter. Will post headless person seeing city. Beautiful place , however needed to get on the road as next days seem to be rather hilly.