France
Arrondissement de Saint-Nazaire

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  • Day42

    Final Rest Day in Le Croisic

    October 1, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    After the continual frenetic activity of the previous few weeks it was a relief to finally know that there would be no riding today. There would also be no need for packing, moving bags, finding hotels, etc. In fact we had lots of time and very little to do with it. It was heaven.

    The breakfast room of our hotel was actually across the the road in the waterfront restaurant where we had dined the night before. You could not imagine a more spectacular place to enjoy your morning baguettes and orange juice. The building is situated right on the edge of the Atlantic and has panoramic windows on the ocean side that offer continually mesmerising view of the ever changing waves crashing outside. It was the sort of place you could spend hours, just watching the ocean.

    Of course, there was one essential task that had to be done. Our bags were bursting with laundry that urgently needed the services of a washing machine. We already knew that there was a coin laundry, only about 1 km away from the hotel. So that's where we headed. The next hour was spent watching the clothes do round and round in the washing machine, then in the dryer. It was nowhere near as exciting as watching the waves, but it was a soothing feeling to know that you would finally have clean clothes once again.

    One incredible feature of this part of the world is the huge tidal range. At low tide the water recedes so far away that you can no longer see it. At the fishing port all the moored boats are left sitting on the sand. It is quite a sight to behold, especially when the tide turns and the water starts russhing back in again. Over the space of 20 minutes I sat and watch the entire scene change before my eyes. Boats that were stuck firm are lifted from the sand and start bobbing away in the water.

    Le Croisic is very clearly a holiday location and, at this time of the year, most of the houses are already locked and shuttered for the winter. It does seem like quite a waste seeing so many magnificent homes being left empty for so many months at a time.

    In the evening we met for the final group dinner of the ride. We had been booked into L"Estacade Restaurant. This is a Michelin restaurant that is rated number 1 out of about 50 in Le Croisic. We discovered that this rating was richly deserved. The food and service was simply superb. It was a magnificent way to end an incredible trip.

    After dinner we had a lengthy walk back to the hotel, but the evening was mild and the wind had dropped. It was a magical feeling, walking back through the narrow streets, lit by subdued sepia lighting. I suspect we were probably all a bit noisier than we should have been, but it really didn't matter much since the place was almost deserted.

    In the morning our group will disperse to places all over Europe. What an unforgettable time we have shared together.
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  • Day41

    Mission Accomplished

    September 30, 2019 in France ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

    Although we had already ridden to the mouth of the Loire at St Brevin, our ride was not yet fully completed. We all know that the Tour de France is not completed until the riders enter Paris and ride around the Champs Elysees. That final day for the Tour de France riders is something of a formality, the maillot jaune has already been effectively won in the final day on the mountains.

    If yesterday was something of our final day in the mountains, then today was our epilogue. While we had achieved our primary aim, we still had to continue our way westwards to the wild Atlantic coast at Le Croisic. It still had the potential to b e another really challenging day, especially as the weather forecast was for more rain and very strong winds from the west. This would not be an ideal way to complete our ride, but we would have to accept whatever was thrown at us.

    You can imagine my relief when I awoke to find that the rain had stopped. So had the wind. That was a very promising development. We donned the cycling gear for the last time and went down to attack the breakfast buffet. The breakfast itself was in keeping with a large casino hotel, so I took maximum advantage of what was on offer. I then gathered the group together for a group photo in front of the hotel.

    Then it was time to begin our final day. The first challenge was to safely get across the huge bridge across the Loire to St Nazaire on the right bank. This bridge was built in the 1970s and was for many years the longest bridge in France and the longest cable suspended bridge in the world. At 3.4 km long, it certainly would take a brave cyclist to try to ride across it, especially as there is no bike lane and the wind at the top would be horrendous.

    We had arranged for a mini bus transfer of ourselves and our bikes to the other side. The only problem was that it could only transfer 7 of us at a time. This meant that the first group would have to wait by the side of the road for 40 minutes, until the others arrived. I did the right thing by volunteering Maggie and I to join this first batch. Another 5 people reluctantly joined us. We took the bus trip and then waited. And waited. I got tired and decided to sit down, unfortunately right in the middle of a puddle of water I had not seen. Result - a wet backside.

    When the group was finally complete, we were glad to see that the wind was still lacking and the rain was absent. It was ideal for riding. Russell and I had also done a little research and found that the route could be "fiddled with" in order to save us quite a few uneccessary km. I call it a stroke of genius and the rest of the peloton seemed to agree.

    Although we had been expecting a flat final day, we did manage to find quite a few moderate sized hill and one big one along the way. It made us happy that we had excised those extra kilometres.

    One surprising feature of the houses in this region were the lovely thatched roofs. They almost made us feel we were cycling in the UK.

    The final major attraction was the impressive medieval walled city of Guerande. Not only is it fully surrounded by a massive stone wall, it even has a moat as well. It looks like it has come straight out of the Dark Ages. We were also somewhat surprised that it was very quiet. Although we had expected it to be full of tourists, the place was almost deserted. Not only was it a Monday, but we arrived right in the middle of the siesta time. Fortunately a couple of the cafes were open, so we were able to get some sustenance before the final leg to Le Croisic.

    After leaving Guerande we immediately found ourselves riding through the famous salt pans of the region. Here salt is harvested from the sea water in a huge array of interconnected shallow ponds. It is quite a spectacle, but it is also highly exposed to the wind. As we drew closer and closer to the coast, the headwind started to blow in our faces as a reminder of what might have been if the weather bureau had been correct.

    With our final destination almost in view there was a feeling of exhileration in the group. The route had been changed since we last rode this section and the revised version gave us a lovely tour of the city before we began the final cruise to the hotel. With the waves crashing on the rocks to our left and the magnificent stately homes on our right, it certainly makes for a memorable sight.

    When I announced that the ride had been completed, everyone dismounted and hugged each other. We had shared so much together and it is an indescribable feeling to have achieved something we had been anticipating for over a year. It was also time to do what we always do at such times - take a group photo.

    We noticed a lady walking towards us and asked if she would take our picture. She entered into the spirit of the occasion with enthusiasm, almost getting run over as she stood in the middle of the road. She also told us that we had arrived just in time for the next king tide. It would be there in just a couple of hours. How is that for perfect planning ?

    All we needed now was a hotel to stay in. We had previously stayed in the nearby Les Nids Hotel, but is was now closed and boarded up. The replacement hotel was Les Vikings and I have to admit that it looked absolutely dreadful from the outside. Large pieces were missing from the facade, the paint was peeling, it looked derelict. I was more than a little worried. It would not be a great way to finish such an epic ride if we had to spend the last two nights in a dump.

    Our fears dispersed as soon as we entered the front door. Apparently we are the final guests to be housed here before the full restoration takes place. As soon as we leave the place will be closed so that the builders can start. We were thrilled to find that, not only were our rooms huge, clean and modern, but they all faced the ocean. We ran back and forth from room to room in a silly game of "you show me yours and I'll show you mine". I knew that I had a very happy peloton.

    That evening we had dinner in the oceanfront "Restaurant de L'Ocean". You could not get any closer to the water than this place and we looked through the panoramic windows at the setting sun and the huge waves crashing against the rocks below us. It was a night to remember.

    Yvonne Parsons had spent some time collating statistics of our ride along the Loire. This is what she calculated. Total time in the saddle - 57 hours. Distance ridden 812 km per person. The total vertical distance climbed was over 4,000 metres. Of course this does not include the riding we had already done in Provence. I could also add another very important statistic - Number of punctures ZERO. It truly had been an epic ride in every sense of the word.

    We now have a free day in Le Croisic, before we all begin to make our own ways back to Australia.
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  • Day40

    A Hard Day at the Office

    September 29, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    On every extended ride there is usually one day that is remembered as "the day of suffering". On our 2019 French Ride, today was that day. Not that we can complain, up till now we have enjoyed an uncanny run of glorious weather. I guess that really had to come to an end sooner or later.

    We all knew that the day was not going to be easy. All night we had heard the sound of rain falling outside the hotel. I had also been kept awake by the seemingly constant progression of drunken knobs walking past the hotel at all hours of the night. I don't mind them walking past, but why do they all want to yell at the tops of their voices as they do so ? Nantes is indeed a lovely city, but I was already seeking somewhere quieter.

    The rain continued as we assembled with our riders - a more comic bunch of umpa lumpas you would be hard pressed to find anywhere. It seemed that everyone had managed to find even more wet weather clothing than Horatio Hornblower would have worn in an Atlantic gale. And thus the ride started.

    The first major challenge was to navigate our way out of Nantes, without the aid of the GPS. Finding the Loire was easy, the rest was not so easy. I asked the entire group to help by keeping an eye out for those little green bike signs. We made a couple of minor errors before making a major one. By the time we realised that we had missed the turn, it was too late to double back. The brains trust (aka Russell and Gordon) came to the conclusion that we could get through anyway. And we did. It turned out to be an inspired mistake that probably actually saved us a little time.

    Like all big cities, Nantes has an outer ring of ugly industrial complexes, storage facilities and the like. When you combine this with the still pouring rain, we were starting to look a little ragged before we had even made the first 10 km. And did I mention the head wind ? Well I should have. It soon became evident that we would be pushing into the teeth of a stiff westerly wind all day. At times the wind was so strong as to almost bring us to a standstill. Considering that this was also going to be our longest day in the saddle, it was not a prospect to be savoured.

    Somehow, by sheer force of will and bloody mindedness we made it as far as Indre. At this point we had to cross to the south bank of the river by catching a ferry across the Loire. There were two good points to this crossing - it gave us a short break from our labours and it was free.

    When we were deposited on the opposite bank we all knew that we still had another 45 km to ride. The rain was still falling heavily. The head wind was still blowing. And my severely compromised GPS had to be completely relegated to the pannier. In fact I could hardly see through my wet glasses. Our strength was failing. On the positive side, at least we had left the busy roads behind and were able to ride on a quiet, albeit waterlogged, bike path.

    "This rain will really help the Loire", I said, trying to think of something positive.
    "Who cares about the river ?", was the consensus response.

    It really was hard going, but just as our strength was failing, Yvonne made a wonderful chance discovery. She spied a large cafe, right on the edge of the bike path. Before I could say or do anything, she had already dropped her bike and was making a bee line for the front door. We weren't far behind her.

    Over the next hour we ordered coffee after coffee and galette (waffle) after galette. Our morales started to improve as we warmed up and dried out a little. Things improved even further when we noticed that the rain had finally stopped and the clouds had started to thin a little. Perhaps we could make it after all.

    We finally suited up again and started off. Our destination was St Brevin Les Pins, situated at the mouth of the Loire. Although it was still a long way off, it certainly made for more pleasant riding when we no longer had rain finding its way into every part of our anatomy.

    The final twenty or so km really seemed to take for ever, but our chance encounter with a large group of Citroen 2CV drivers added a welcome diversion. They seemed just as glad to see us as we were to see them. They all proceeded to salute us with a caucophony of horns, hooters, tooters, klaxons and whistles. It was another of those unplanned events that makes travel so incredibly addictive.

    As we entered the outskirts of St Brevin, we got our first glimpses of the famous massive bridge that spans the mouth of the Loire, although it was somewhat difficult to see through the mist. The route become a winding labyrinth of twists and turns that made me glad that I had been able to resurrect the GPS, just long enough to guide us to the hotel.

    By the time we finally reached the large Spa Du Beryl Hotel and Casino, we were all near to our physical limits. It really had been a hard day, but we had now reached our primary objective of reaching the mouth of the Loire. Tomorrow's final ride to Le Croisic would be a wonderful epilogue to an incredible cycling experience.

    The hotel however was not my type of place. Although the rooms were comfortable, I find it hard to take pleasure from an establishment that grows rich from the stupidity and weakness of others. I watched the people in the casino as they mindlessly gambled away their hard earned money. I noticed that not a single one of them was smiling as they just kept pushing the buttons on the poker machines. With every push of the button, a little more of their future was robbed from them. Every external door of the place was surrounded by a clump of smokers, trying to pump a little more nicotine into their systems, before returning to their gambling.

    The location of the hotel was right on the Atlantic coast. I guess we would have had a wonderful view if our rooms had been on the other side of the building. The view of the car park was not quite as exciting as the view of the ocean would have been.

    Tomorrow we will be donning our cycling gear and climbing on our bikes for the very last day as we complete our ride to Le Croisic.
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  • Day5

    Von La Flèche nach Pornic

    May 28, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Was war das wieder eine völlig ruhige Nacht beim Bauern auf der Wiese! Um 9Uhr ging die Fahrt weiter, auf der D323 Richtung Angers. In Durtal hielten wir an einer hübschen Boulangerie, um Baguettes und Kuchen zu kaufen. Und alles wurde so nett verpackt, toll! Am Fluss Loir im Ort Lezigne standen wir auf einem Schotterweg direkt am Wasser um zu frühstücken. Danach ging es weiter nach Angers. Unterwegs gab es kurze, aber heftige Regenschauer. Die Temperaturen fielen kurzfristig von 18 auf 12°C. Dann war wieder alles wie zuvor. In Angers gibt es einen Riesen-Parkplatz, wo auch Wohnmobile kostenlos parken dürfen. Zur Stadtbesichtigung von Kirche, Kathedrale und Burg mehr als ausreichend. Der Fluss Maine fließt direkt durch Angers, einen kleinen Hafen haben wir daher auch besucht. Über Ancenis geht die heutige Etappe noch um Nantes herum (Besuch hier folgt später mal), um für die Nacht noch bis zur französischen Atlantikküste zu kommen. Zuerst fuhren wir über die D751 nach Pornic zu einem Campingplatz. Dieser hat 328Plätze (!), Spassbad, Wasserrutsche, und viel Pi-Pa-Po. Nee, das brauchen wir für eine ruhige Nacht nun wirklich nicht!! Ein paar Kilometer weiter soll ein Stellplatz für 35WoMos sein, den fahren wir also an. Zunächst können wir dort unseren Frischwassertank mit knapp 100 Litern wieder auffüllen. Außerdem steht man hier großzügig auf Asphalt. Und der Strand ist nur 300m von hier entfernt. Mauern und Hecken schützen etwas vor dem doch recht heftigen Wind, Küste eben! Die Platzgebühr beträgt 9,50€ pro Nacht, das ist günstig. Alles inklusive. Ein Rundgang durch den Ort, nette kleine Läden, eine Strandpromenade und das Meer. Das Beste daran, es sind kaum Menschen hier, man kann problemlos überall hingehen.Read more

  • Day6

    La Bernerie-en-Retz und Pornic

    May 29, 2019 in France ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

    Um 8Uhr zur Boulangerie, dann Frühstück. Wetter-Vorhersage 16°C, windig. Also Räder aus der Heckgarage entladen und los geht die Fahrt nach Pornic. Die nette Dame in der Tourist-Info sprach perfekt deutsch (ohne jeden Akzent) und gab uns Stadtplan und Radweg-Plan mit. Nach gut 10km erreichen wir den Hafen von Pornic. Der Weg dorthin verlief auf festen Sandwegen, teils Asphaltstraßen durch kleine Siedlungen, fast unbehelligt von Fahrzeugen. In der Hauptsaison soll das aber gaanz anders sein. Hier an der Küste kann man kleine Fischerhütten sehen, die (wie auf Stelzen) auf Holzpfosten im Wasser stehen. Zur Mittagszeit sehen wir eine ganz kleine Patisserie Traditionelle, in der wir Tee trinken und Flan essen (Blätterteig mit Puddingfüllung). So lecker! Dann bummeln wir noch durch den Ort, die Wege verlaufen teilweise ganz schön steil bergauf und bergab, trotz Küstennähe. Auf dem Rückweg zum Stellplatz in La Bernerie-en-Retz erkunden wir noch die Dolmen de la Joseliere, Hünengräber. Kurz vor unserem Ziel fahren wir etwas schneller, denn ganz dunkle Wolken kündigen Regen an, es bleibt aber bei kurzem Nieselregen. Wir bleiben noch eine weitere Nacht hier stehen und wollen morgen früh in Richtung Noirmoutier weiterfahren, von dort will meine Frau sich mit dem Rad auf die Spuren der Tour der France-Profis begeben!Read more

  • Day10

    Pays Blanc und Guérande

    September 25, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Der Tag ist komplett ins Wasser gefallen. Ich fuhr stuhr 70 km in die Gegend von Guérande um die berühmten Salzgärten zu sehen und sah nur Wasser, das vom Himmel fiel. In Saillé schaute ich mir einen Film über die Salzgewinnung und Salzbauern und fuhr noch auf einer kurvigen Strasse durch die Salinen, die sich kilometerweit ziehen und eine bizarre Landschaft bilden. Es war hoffnungslos. Ich bevorratete mich noch vor Ort mit verschiedenen Regionalprodukten ( natürlich vor allen Fleur de Sel) , aß in der bezaubernden Stadt Guérande eine, wie immer hervorragende Galette und sah am Horizont einen helleren Streifen in Richtung Festland, also nix wie hin.

    Dzień kompletnie utonął w deszczu. Pojechałam uparcie w okolice 70 km oddalonego Guérande, żeby zwiedzić słynne ogrody solne i zobaczyłam tylko ścianę wody. W Saillé obejrzałam jeszcze w centrum soli film o życiu salinierów i o technice wydobywania soli z morza i wyjechałam krętą szosą na pola soli, ale nie miało sensu przebywać tam dłużej. W przeuroczym Guérande zaopatrzona się w regionalne produkty ( przede wszystkim Fleur de Sel), zjadłam jak zwykle świetną Galette i dojrzałam skrawek jaśniejszego nieba na horyzoncie w kierunku lądu, więc skierowałam się w tą stronę.
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  • Day10

    Le Grande Brière

    September 25, 2019 in France ⋅ 🌧 17 °C

    Vergeblich habe ich auf ein besseres Wetter gewartet. Aus der erhofften Bootsfahrt durch das große Torfgebiet ist nix geworden. Kalt, windig und regnerisch. Ich schaute mir noch das Museumsdorf an in dem die Verwaltung des Nationalparks untergebracht ist, aber das Schietwetter hielt hartnäckig an. Also wählte ich den geordneten Rückzug und fuhr nach Vannes.

    Na próżno czekałam na rozjaśnienie. Z planowanej przejażdżki łodzią po wielkim torfowisku nic nie wyszło. Zimno, wietrznie i mokro. Obejrzałam jeszcze skansen, w którym ulokowany jest zarząd parku narodowego i zdecydowałam się na strategiczny odwrót.
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  • Day78

    St Nazaire

    July 2, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Hello, we left Pornichet on Saturday it was still windy but had eased overnight so seas a little less disturbed. We headed along the coast, and managed to stay fairly close in as we moved towards St Nazaire. Per the Almanac we had to enter the east lock, i radioed ahead and they confirmed next opening would be 12:10. So we tied to a random wall had a cuppa and waited. While waiting we realised that we were moored at the seaward end of the submarine pen foe the Espadon, the sub that visitors long around and that has a viewing gallery above it which explained the random voices we could hear.
    Well they let us into the Bassin de St Nazaire and we tried to figure out where to go, there were a few fishing boats on one side, a couple of yachts in a corner and the Loire princess on one edge, that's the paddle boat that does Loire river cruises, looked very plush. In the end we decided to moor along side the pontoon directly in front of the old submarine pens where it said don't moor without permission of the mayor, this was secure as doors to pontoon locked and we would have to use dingy whereas everywhere else was along side Bassin edge and anyone could walk aboard. The 2books we have gave different opinions on where we should go and neither option looked viable, but we did do as recommended and headed for Capitainnerie to tell them where we were, pay our dues and leave phone number in case boat needed to be moved. However Capitainnairie weren't interested we had to talk to intercom they didn't let us into building we tried to explain we wanted to stay for 2 nights and where we were they decided it was gratuit (free).
    Has been a nice quiet couple of nights OK so no power or elec but peaceful even though only 5mins to beach and 2mins to supermarket and Randun Bleu (or similar)shopping precinct and town centre.
    On Saturday we wondered around town but today we went to junk market,really was rubbish, then around harbour before short 5km jog then after lunch a walk on the Promenade towards St Marc where we ended up on Friday on our walk from Pornichet. Tomorrow we plan to head to Pornic for a couple of nights before anchoring off the islands of Noirmotier or isle d'yeu. Photos on other device so to follow
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  • Day9

    Cracking 70km day to Guenroute

    August 8, 2016 in France ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Early morning ride along the beautiful L'ouest canal. Loys of herons and general birdlife, nearly crashed into the canal just once. Got to the campaite and devoured a whole baguette and 5/8 of a camembert. C'est bon!

    Oh and Rosie had her first experience with a selfie stick...

  • Day75

    Pornichet

    June 29, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    So Wednesday morning we wandered to the market for lettuce mostly, I hadn't realised how exciting our lives had become, then back to do cleaning. Boat really was due an internal clean and after 5hours it looked much better but boy were we bored I think the polish fumes were making me lightheaded.
    Today we woke up to rain, well I woke over night and closed windows etc. but it was day for major bike ride back to Le Criosic, so we made our packed lunch and then packed the picnic blanket and lunch bag in the bike basket ready for the off. We were feeling very French at this point.
    Off we rode, into a head wind as is almost always the case when riding, along the bay out of Pornichet into La Baule, out of La Baule and into Paliguen, then carrying on along the coast to Batz Sur Mer then Croisic. It was blowing a lot hopefully you will be able to see in the photos how rough it actually is, not like when we sailed along on our way to Pornichet then it was beautifully flat. At Paliguen we asked about availability but full till Tuesday it looked nice a small harbour with cafes and shops on one side, flats the other.
    We didn't go into the Blockhaus which is smaller close up than it looked from offshore. Le Criosic was bigger and prettier than we had expected. We had considered it for the boat but as it dried decided not to try it. The last 3photos are of Le Croisic the final one is looking across narrow entrance to the salt marshes to Pen Bron, still not sure if Pen Bron is a town, prison hospital. Looks weird from both shores but apparently there are ferries across though we didn't see any, or anyone on the other side at all. I took a short 360 video from the lookout at Le Croisic that I will put on Facebook as can't do vids here.
    Forecast for us for next few days isn't great, same as today with westerly winds reaching 33km/hr so we are thinking of heading up river Loire.
    All the best everyone
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Arrondissement de Saint-Nazaire

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