Bordeaux
July 20 / July 27, 2009

Michael J. Ferguson
Montréal

Journal Index

Contents

1  Introduction
2  Montreal to Gradignan, Mon/Tues. July 20/21
3  Gradignan, Wed. July 22
4  Gradignan to Chateau de la Brède and beyond, Thurs. July 23
5  First Camp to Langon and Bordeaux, Fri. July 24
6  Gradignan and on to Bordeaux, Sat. July 25 and Sun. July 26
7  Bordeaux to Montreal, Mon. July 27

1  Introduction

This is my second trip to Bordeaux this year. Again it was because there was an airfare below my resistance level, and this one was for five weeks rather than the normal one or two. This time I intend to go south towards Pau, and ignore Bordeaux all together.

2  Montreal to Gradignan, Mon/Tues. July 20/21

Today really started late Monday night with Tony taking me to the airport and our flight leaving at 11:30pm. He was very worried about me when I appeared exhausted outside his door after hauling my bike and trailer outside. They were no heavier than usual, but it appears that my faulty Aortic Heart Valve is indeed deteriorating. I also noticed problems on the short ride from the Bordeaux airport to my campground, Beau Soliel in Gradignan. The flight was pleasantly uneventful, and after putting my bicycle and trailer together at the airport, with some hassle from a passing policeman, I rode to Carrefour to get provisions. Then it was on to the campground. The delight of this ride was, that in contrast to the previous trips, the campground was open, and actually where the GPS coordinates said it should be. They were full, but only for the big guys. There tenting area had plenty of room for my bicycle and small tent.
I intend to stay two nights so I can get my stuff organised. It was nice not to have to move in the morning, especially since there was a very heavy thunderstorm tonight, and everything was soaked.

3  Gradignan, Wed. July 22

Today I rode into the centre of town to get some more supplies. It was a pleasant, easy day, but I still noticed fatigue. Beau Soliel has WiFi, a second advantage over wild camping, so I was able to be connected. I had forgotten my Michelin Green Guide, so I spent most of the day reading the new one I bought at Carrefour. This guide has added information on eating and lodging, so is much more useful than my old ones. It even includes campgrounds near the attractions.

4  Gradignan to Chateau de la Brède and beyond, Thurs. July 23

It rained a little again last night but the morning is sunny so I think I shall be able to continue. I expect to leave late, after partially recharging the computer, but given my condition, that is not really a problem.
The ride to the Chateau de la Brède, passed many chateaux, which are really euphemisms for wineries. Some were not really in very good shape.
The Chateau de la Brède is really an old fortified chateau, not an old winery. I was really surprised that it was surrounded by moat.
From there I continued on towards my next chateau .... This section is the heart of the Graves wine district, and is incredibly civilised, with all of the woods full of houses. I was really despairing of finding a place to camp, so I tried a hotel. It was closed because the owners were away at a conference. I did finally found a place behind a very dead chateau gate. There were no fences in sight.

5  First Camp to Langon and Bordeaux, Fri. July 24

It was a pleasant, dry evening, and I continued south to Langon which was big enough to have a McDonald's. It was tough going and I had to stop rather frequently to rest. Even after a half hour, I still didn't have very much energy.
I checked my email and discovered several from Kiyoko, whom I had met just before this trip. When I told her about the problems I was having, she insisted that I come home, and was so serious about it that she would pay for the air ticket on Air France. I rode to the train station and discovered, much to my delight, that most French trains are "bicycle friendly", having a special compartment for bicycles so you no longer needed to send them by freight. I needed help to get the trailer up the stairs but, all in all, it was quite easy.
The stairs at Bordeaux were quite painful, but I was successful and rode back to Gradignan, slowly and painfully.

6  Gradignan and on to Bordeaux, Sat. July 25 and Sun. July 26

I made reservations on Air France for Monday July 27, and spent the day or so riding around Gradignan, meeting the locals. On Sunday morning I rode the 12km or so to the airport, not without some strain and stayed a "Comfort Inn" only about 1.5km from the airport.
Much to my delight, I had visitors just outside my window.

7  Bordeaux to Montreal, Mon. July 27

It was a very easy ride to the airport, and I had much time to put the bicycle together. After some arguments and discussions, Air France agreed that my folding bicycle did not warrant a "bicycle surcharge" and I was on my way to Montreal. Kiyoko drove up from Boston and met me at the airport. It was indeed nice not to have to ride home.



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