Monday, July 11, 2016

France Bike trip - part 2

July 10 - July 23

I.  Camping Le Lac to Montalivet, France

Below is not quite an accurate depiction of our route.  We went up the west side of that big lake and then cut over to the Atlantic Ocean coast.  (Couldn't get that to show up on Google maps).  Mostly a quiet ride with a few interesting sights.

We stopped in Moubisson for supplies - the only town we'd go through. 

Very French looking guy making very French looking food.  

Main market street in Moubisson.  This was a Sunday - most stores are usually closed.  But I think because this is a tourist town all the shops were open.  

No "Super Mario Bros" sign:

We went through Hourtin Plage on our way to Montalivet (EuroVelo route signs):

II.  Montalivet, France to Royan France:

Saw this leaving our campground in Montalivet.  I love goofy translations...."yes, I am pleased to put my household waste..."

Jules in front of some little Oceanside church.  Spain has many more churches...but France has some cool ones too.  

"How much further is it?  And when does this train come by?". 

Ferry to 4th ferry trip and Julie's 3rd ferry trip (3 in France, missing my Morocco to Spain ferry).  This ferry was much larger - carrying cars and RVs.

Some cool, Victorian looking houses in Royan.

I had Foie Gras in Royan...only because I can't in Chicago.  Don't see what the big deal is. About the taste I mean...not the animal suffering.  

Some old, defunct, Soviet-looking soccer stadium in Royan. 

The mail delivery people in Royan use these bikes:

We saw a family of backpackers in Royan using a donkey (or mule?).

Cool food market in central Royan.

Ugly church named Notre Dame in Royan.

Due to two increasingly severe cases of Monkey Butt and the fact that we are lagging on time, we decided to spend an extra night in Royan (in a hotel, not camping) and then rent a car to drive north to Nantes.  

Interestingly enough, we looked into taking the train to Nantes.  1) It cost about as much as renting a car for the day.  2) The ticket seller could not guarantee we would be able to take our bikes on.  He said sometimes they make you pack up/box your bike on the train.  I thought Europe was all about bikes and trains.  Oh well.

III. Royan, France to Nantes, France (via car)

At our pace, this would have been 4 days biking...

Some pictures of Nantes:

For some reason, I like the sagging wood on this building.  

In Nantes, we caught up with Marlene and Brian for a day.  We went to this Lebanese restaurant. (Marlene in photo). 

We walked by an opera house at night...had these creepy dummies on balcony in back of building.

History museum in Nantes - old walled compound surrounded by a moat.

This artist's work is featured all over the city.  Reminds me a little of "The Far Side."

Giant mechanical elephant...marches around and shoots water out of snout.   

Sidewalk art from chalk.  Artist in foreground working from his butt.  

Another Notre Dame church...several churches have this stair case around a column mid-congregation.  

Flag at half mast following the tragedy in Nice, France. 

IV. Day Trip outside of Nantes

Since we are behind schedule and taking some trains, we have decided to do some day biking in the towns we are staying in.  On this day we rode out of Nantes and then back. We did about 25 miles...very nice without the luggage attached. We followed (or tried to follow) the Nantes-Brest canal.  

Our original plan (back in April) was to follow the canal the whole way to Brest (our final French destination) by bike.  But we will end up doing most of it by train, so today we took the opportunity to ride part of the canal. 

Some photos from the day trip...

When you leave a city in France (and Spain), there is a sign with the city name and a big red line through it.  Harsh way to exit a city. 

We stopped for lunch In a nice little town, La Chappelle.  It was very quiet - possibly because of Bastille Day..or siesta time...or the tragedy in Nice.  We had lunch on the steps of the church in the picture. 

Saw this cross in the weeds off the side of the road.  It looked like this was roadside at one point in time and they built a new road...putting this cross 30 feet off the road in some overgrowth. 

Cool house boats outside Nantes:

V.  Nantes to Quimper (by train)

Pictures of Quimper:

France is trying to catch up to Spain with cool churches...

One thing that has amazed me about Spain and France (and Morocco too) is how clean the streets are.  All 3 countries have an army of street sweepers.  Here is one in Quimper pulling some sort of street vacuum. 

Illinois license plates for sale in a resale shop...for about $40 each!  New business idea...import old plates to France.

VI. Quimper to Brest (by train)

Bikes loaded on the train:

Our VRBO in Bohars, outside of Brest.  Was a cottage attached to a large farmhouse: 

We made it to Brest, where there is a huge boat festival.  Marlene and Brian (boat owners in Seattle) were especially excited about reaching this festival.  Over 1,000 boats there. Some pictures from it: 

Smoked herring at the festival...

Andouille - a French Sausage like dish.  It is awesome.  

Marlene outside the Marlene hair studio, Bohars, France (outside of Brest).

VII. Brest, France to Cherbourg, France (sailboat)

Our original plan was to take a two day bike ride from the boat festival in Brest to Roscoff, France to catch a ferry to Ireland.  It turns out that the Roscoff ferry runs once a week and was sold out.  So we got tickets from a ferry in Cherbourg.  However, that was a 4-5 day bike ride away...and we only had two days. 

We considered trains or rental cars.  But walking around the festival, we saw a flyer for a 100 year old Dutch fishing ship that was looking for passengers to sail to Cherbourg... leaving on the day we wanted to leave and arriving on the day we needed to be in Cherbourg.  Too good to be true, so we met with the captain and arranged for four people and four bikes to hitch a ride.

Our route:

Pictures from the sail boat, name the "Gallant."

Loading the bikes on board.

We paid to be on the ship, but it was not much and the deal was we had to contribute some work.  Mostly this was Marlene and Julie cooking two dinners for 18 people on board.  But here is Julie cleaning a tarp that would cover our bikes 


Several times dolphins swam next to us...


Jules steering...

Halfway through we anchored by the island of Guernsey to await currents or something.  A few people rowed ashore. Guernsey is actually part of England, so this marks my first trip to England. 

A few shots of the Gallant docked in Cherbourg:

VIII. Cherbourg, France to Rosslare, Ireland (ferry)

After about 40 hours of sailing we had a few hours to spend in Cherbourg before getting on a 17 hour ferry to Ireland.

The only picture I took on the 17 hour ferry ride was off the Gallant as we pulled out. Taken from the helipad of the ferry, the 100 foot Gallant looks small below. 

IX.  Rosslare, Ireland to Dublin, Ireland (train)

After 40 hours sailing and 17 hours on a ferry, we caught a 3 hour train ride to Dubin.

X. Dublin, Ireland to Rathcoole, Ireland (bike).

After 40 hours sailing, 17 hours on a ferry and 3 hours on a train, we biked 2 hours to Rathcoole, home to Brian's brother and his family. 

It was a mostly uninteresting ride...although we did get on a cycle path along a canal for a bit.  Ran into some horses.  No idea where they came from...

This picture of horse poo on the way to Rathcoole marks the end of the documentation of this journey!  We will visit around Ireland for a bit, but no more major travel.