Contents 1 Montreal to Bordeaux, Mon. June 1 and Tues. June 2, 2009
2 Bordeaux to St. Emilion, Day 1, Wed. June 3, 2009
3 Bordeaux to St. Emilion, Day 2, Thurs. June 4
4 St. Emilion, Fri. June 5
5 St. Emilion, Sat. June 6, 2009
6 St. Emilion, Sun. June 7, 2009
7 St. Emilion, Mon. June 8
8 St. Emilion to Bordeaux, Tues. June 9
9 Bordeaux to Marcheprime, Wed. June 10
10 Lacanau de Mios and the Parc Ornithologique du Teich, Thurs. June 11
11 Arcachon, Fri. June 12
12 Lacanau de Mios to Bordeaux, Sat. June 13
13 Bordeaux, Sun. June 14
14 Bordeaux, Mon. June 15
15 Bordeaux to Montreal, Tues. June 16
I started at 11:15 pm and arrived at about 12:10pm in Bordeaux on Tuesday. The flight was appropriately uneventful, and there was even an improvement in Air Transit's food.
I tried to pack my bicycle so it would be easier to put back together, and failed. I left the back wheel on, and folded the derailleur towards the frame. It still got bent, and made gear shifting onerous. It was too awkward for me to do anything about it then so I just lived with it.
My destination for the day was Camping Bordeaux Lac. I had checked their website just before I left and found lots of pictures of their facilities, a price list starting June 1, and GPS coordinates. There was indeed a campground at the coordinates, but it was totally under construction and was not allowing any camping. It also had a new name. Since it was the only campground in Bordeaux, knew I was in trouble. It was north of the Lac, and there was quite bit of wild country. After looking a lot, I saw a place that looked decent but it was protected by ditch that was 2.5m wide and about 2.5m deep ... obviously impassable. There was a dirt road on the other side so I started looking for the entrance. I finally found it, after much strain, but it was Parc de Parcours and it said no bicycles. I was about to leave when a man in parked car asked me if I wanted to enter. I asked him if ``Il est permis?'' and he said yes, so I went in. This is the campsite, I found, hidden from the joggers on the dirt road.
I had intended to spend 4 nights in Bordeaux but in this campsite, that was too dangerous.
Sunrise was at about 6:15am so I was able to leave by about 7:30am. At this time of day, the park was totally empty. Since there were no gates it was easy to get in and out. Normally I would have tried to fix the bicycle at the campsite, but this one had too much tall grass. I stopped, instead, just south of Bordeaux Lac and successfully straightened the derailleur, and also tightened the brakes, that for some reason, were also not working very well.
My next stop was the huge sports store, Decathlon, to buy a new self-inflating foam pad. My old one had an encounter with thorns through the bottom of my tent while I was in Baja. They sold the French version for an amazingly low price of 18 euros. I threw away my old one.
From there I followed the signs to central Bordeaux, and much to my surprise, ended up on the quais of the Garonne.
I rode along the quai looking for restaurant for lunch, only to discover that at 11:15am, they weren't serving. Lunch only started at noon (midi). I went inland looking for a McDonald's with free WiFi, was unsuccessful but passed more than one interesting house facade.
The gate on the Jardin Publique was also a surprise.
I found a grill wagon, with a long lineup waiting to be served, at the Esplanade des Quinconces. The merguez sausage that I bought was delicious.
At that point I decided to get routing to St. Emilion and passed through the Place de la Grande Théatre.
I was asked if I wanted my picture taken in front of the Grande Théatre. I first said ``no'', but he was insistent so I said ``ok''.
The streets leading to the place, Allés de Tourny also had some interesting facades.
Before I crossed the Garonne, I went through the Place de la Bourse,
and took a small detour through the Quartier St. Michel, which appears to be an arab quarter.
Then it was across the bridge. I knew that I was not going to make to St. Emilion today, and was able to finally find a place near the end of a dirt road on the edge of a small town. It turned out to be rather crowded with joggers and running at the base of very nice houses on up the hill. Many people knew I was there, but I was rather innocuous, and felt I had no other choice than to stay. It turned out well.
This is vineyard and winery land, with each proclaiming that they are a Bordeaux Grand Cru. In may places there were flowers growing amongst the vines. Does this lead to flowery wine?
Some flowers are obviously for decoration.
It was also very nice to see the poppies in bloom.
I passed through Libourne, and tried to have lunch at the café by the tower, and although they had several empty tables, I was told they were full.
My destination for today was the Barbanne campground. Unfortunately, the GPS coordinates were quite wrong and there was nothing there. I did find someone in a wine store, just as they were closing at noon who gave me instructions how to find it. I had to go to St. Emilion, make a left turn and continue about 3km. It was indeed reassuring, when I got the turn towards St. Emilion, there was also a sign that said Camping. I followed the signs, and found it. I also told them that the GPS coordinates on Google were wrong. They were also wrong on their brochure. I gave them to correct ones.
Today was supposed to be cloudy, and indeed it started that way with the addition of sprinkles. I took the opportunity to do some laundry, and to write the journal. At about noon, I decided it was good enough to go up the hill to St. Emilion. This is the first view from the east.
I had no destination so I randomly rode through town. First up towards the Porte Brunet.
Then I went back down, eventually getting to the Médiévale for lunch.
There I met the Greens, a couple from Ireland, who warned me that Saturday and Sunday were going to be stormy. They were right.
Unfortunately, most of the streets are covered with cobblestones. They make for uncomfortable riding.
There are, as you might expect, have many wine stores. It was clear from some of the signs that I couldn't afford the wine.
From there, I went back to the gate I entered passing all manner of delightful views.
Then there were things that were quite enigmatic.
There was also a store whose name would give the Québec Office de la Langue Francaise fits.
The Clos Fourtet vineyard and winery was right in town.
I arrived back at the campground just as the rain and thunderstorms began.
It has been raining all day so I didn't go anywhere.
It started with a few dribbles, but cleared sufficiently that I was able to go up the hill to buy some coffee. The camp store has snacks, but no coffee. On the way up was a glorious field of wild flowers.
This is Sunday and the ordinary stores are only open in the morning. I was successful, and since it was quite nice, continued into town, first going along the ramparts to the city gate I saw on Friday.
Then it was into town to the balcony by the Bell Tower of the Eglise Monolithe.
On the north ramparts, I passed a house with the most amazing collection of flower boxes.
I stopped by the Chateau du Roi with a great view over the city towards the Bell Tower, and the rather dead Couvent all by itself in a field.
After a fine conversation with two professors of Ancient Philosophy, the clouds rolled in and I came back to camp.
It started out with rain so I decided not to go anywhere.
Just as I had packed my tent, it started to rain, and continued that way most to the day. The only nice thing was that the sun came out as I entered Bordeaux and stayed out while I put up my tent - sort of nice.
There is always something new to see. This time it was the Porte Cailhau.
It started out nice, but soon became heavy rain. I was both tired, and tired of riding in the rain so I quit just outside of Marcheprime, down a logging road in the Parc Régionale des Landes. It stopped raining just long enough to get my tent almost up.
It poured rain all night and I was reconciled to taking my tent dow in the rain. However, it slowed down, and then essentially stopped by about 9:00am. The tent was really soaked, but I packed it up. I discovered during the night that my Michelin map showed a campground in the small town of Lacanau de Mios. This was not one in the Google Maps list. In fact, there were many in the area that were not listed. The town map showed where the Camping Samba was located and I put my tent up in bright sunshine.
My key objective was to visit the Parc Ornithologique du Teich which was in a large wetlands and was said to be crowded with birds. It was very organised, with a trail of about 5km, and viewing cabins. Unfortunately, the geography and the cabins precluded getting really close as I was able to by the estuary in San Jose del Cabo and the Galapagos. The other disappointment was that there were not incredible numbers of birds. An English woman's explanation was that this was migration time so most of the birds were away. This may be so, but the white swans had babies.
The estuary is a set of long islands and small ponds. They claim that this is ideal bird territory.
Most of the birds had to make do with the natural surroundings, but the white storks had nests built for them.
The white swans seemed to be quite comfortable in the ponds.
The grand egret seemed always be solitary.
It was nice to see the others, but it really was for binocular viewing. My new camera has a 26x optical zoom so that helped.
There were, of course, mallards. They are inheriting the earth.
There were also some flowers that added colour.
Arcachon warrants ** from Michelin. Its beaches are remarkably uncrowded.
Those that can afford to moor their boats in the harbour survive low tide,
but those who can't have useless boats.
Even some harbours don't have enough water.
Unlike the rest of the peninsula west of Bordeaux, Arcachon is rather hilly, and the people build their houses to take advantage?? of it.
It was another beautifully sunny morning, and my only regret, was that I was riding into the sun. The sun, though, did enhance the wild flowers.
Marcheprime is a small market town with an equally small, but delightful, church.
I arrived in Bordeaux in the early afternoon, wandered around for a short time through a very crowded pedestrian mall.
On Sunday, it was almost empty. Except for some restaurants, everything was closed. I was looking for a McDonald's for free WiFi, but the one in the mall, was tiny, and crowded beyond any reasonableness. I had remembered seeing one when I was riding in from the airport. I found it again, and was able to plug in my computer.
I then rode up to my camping sauvage spot, and put up my tent.
It wasn't raining, but the forecast of ``sunny with clouds'' was optimistic. It was cloudy, with the occasional drizzle, and started seriously to rain in the late afternoon just after I had put up my tent.
I rode into town a totally different way than usual, through a heavily industrial area, and past the (a?) small boat harbour. It did not look too inviting.
I continued in towards the Quais and found a large Sunday market. It ran for several hundred metres, and was selling mostly food and wine. It was evidently a ritual for some Bordelaise, Some of the stalls had queues of 20 or more people waiting to buy bread or fruit.
One little boy was enjoying his treat.
After a glass of wine and some crépes, I rode back into the centre of town. I passed the Bourse Maritime
and rode back to the Place Grande Théatre.
On the way to the Place Gambetta, I passed a rather strange glass building amongst the traditional.
It was not the only study of contrasts that I discovered.
The Place Gambetta was much smaller than I expected, and was filled with flowers and a huge fragrant magnolia.
The gate on the Jardin Mairie was similar to the one on the Jardin Publique, but the sculpture inside was rather different.
Across the street is the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle.
and around the corner is Bordeaux's Cathédrale St.André.
On the way back to camp, I passed through the Quartier Chartrons and pass the Eglise St. Louis-des-Chartrons.
I arrived back quite early, but not too soon. I put up my tent just before the rain started deliberately punishing the earth.
It rained continuously during the night, but nicely gave me a respite for about half-hour after dawn when I was able to get the tent down. It started again just as I left to find the McDonald's to write and check my email at their free WiFi.
I continued to the airport in the rain, but it had stopped just I had finished shopping at Carrefour, and eventually became sunny. I packed my bike and trailer and spent the night sleeping on my foam pad. In Nice, sleeping was quite common, but here it appears to be sufficiently unusual that I was asked twice whether I was going to spend the night. No hassle, just a question.
The flight was uneventful, and the food much better than other airline food that I have had recently. The wine, although claiming to be Bordeaux, was mediocre. The only excitement for the passengers were the icebergs in the Atlantic.
This field was just north of Newfoundland and will generate needed tourist dollars. The most impressive field was further east and will most likely miss the island.
This is the link to the Google Earth Map of the trip.