Monday, August 13, 2012


Day 11: Granville – Cherbourg
Time: 5:47:57
Distance: 109.5 km
Average Speed 18.8 km/h

The last day of the trip. I cycled up and down small hills all day. After 11 days I can wake up in the morning without needing to do 100km on a bike. As soon as I arrived at my hostel in Cherbourg I met an Irish couple that had been cycling around Brittany for the last 2 weeks. I ended up taking the boat to Ireland with them the next day. An Albanian with a perfect Dublin accent that I met on he boat drove me up to the train station in Dublin the next day. With 5 minutes to spare I made the train to Mullingar so I was back in time to see my first Multy GAA game in 2 years.

Fruit Trees and Castles

Day 10: Rennes – Granville
Time: 7:23:54
Distance: 139.52km
Average Speed 18.8 km/h

I spent the morning exploring Rennes. The city has a lot of old buildings and cobbled streets. After a short while on the road North there are a lot of trees with mirabelle plums growing by the roadside so I stopped once or twice to eat. I again bought my food in Carrefour and ate in the village park of Antrain. 2 old women were asking me about my trip. I did my best to reply in my rubbish French and I think they got the gist of it. There was free fruit in this park too. This time it was apples.
My host from last night Charles told me that I should try to see Mont Saint Michel as it was in the general direction of Granville and it wouldn't add many more km's to the journey. Mont Saint Michel is one of the biggest tourist attractions in France and around 3 million people per year visit. I tried to cycle out all the way to the castle but I was stopped by the police since it can only be reached either on foot or by bus. I left and continued for another few hours over pretty hilly roads before eventually arriving in the town of Granville. I made my way to my host Steven's house where we drank expensive Belgian beer and Scotch Whisky.

Brittany Spears

Day 9: Nantes – Rennes
Time: 6:12:01
Distance: 123km
Average Speed 19.8 km/h

It was surprisingly easy to get out of Nantes. All I needed to do was take a straight road, a left and a right and I was on the way to Rennes. On the way I stopped in a town that decided it was a good idea to be twinned with Athlone. I stopped there in the Carrefour to buy food. At the checkout there was a terrible smell of sweat. I looked forward and it was coming from a man 2 metres away. I'd been on the bike for over 3 hours and he still smelled worse than me. He was buying 4 500g blocks of butter and a bottle of Pastis. I don't know if thats what caused him to smell so much. Anyway, after eating and having a beer outside I did another hour on the road. I stopped and put my hammock up beside a lake to take a quick snooze. I had good directions for my couchsurfing host Charles's house. He's a big fan of all things Celtic and had the flag of all the Celtic countries up on his wall.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Europe's Most Liveable City

Day 8: Sainte-Cécile – Nantes
Time: 4:19:56
Distance: 75.74km
Average Speed 17.4 km/h

Since this trip started I've been eating Muesli most mornings. I buy a litre of milk in the evenings, drink half and then in the morning do this:

It rained again last night so I dried my tent in the morning sun before doing the 70km to Nantes "the most liveable city in Europe" (Time Magazine, 2004). On the way I stopped in Montaigu to eat cake in a bakery.
I arrived in Nantes at about 4 and went to the tourist office to find a hostel. The 1st one that they recommended was boarded up so I tried the other, the overpriced Auberge de la Manu. I spent the evening cycling around the cobbled streets of the city looking at nice buildings I didn't know the names of. After 10 seconds on the cobbles I'm having problems. I don't know how the pros can do 50km on cobbles in Paris-Roubaix. I found a Delerium bar (same company as the bar in Brussels with over 2000 beers) but it is closed until August 16th. So instead I went to La Maison. Another place with Belgian beer but with a house of the 1970's decoration.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Weather For Frogs

Day 7:  Aigrefeuille-d'Aunis – Sainte-Cécile
Speedometer didn't work because of the rain so these are estimates
Time: 5 or 6 hours
Distance: 100km (maybe more)
Average Speed 19 km/h

It started raining at about 4am but luckily my tent held the rain out so I slept pretty well. I stayed in my tent all morning hoping the rain would stop but it was relentless. I put everything into plastic bags and packed up my panniers. French people on the street, baguette in hand, smiled as I passed (The "he's an idiot for cycling in the pisses of rain" smile). I decided to make Nantes a 2 day trip so I had no idea where I would stay tonight. On the way I stopped for lunch at a chipper van (roast chicken and chips). I stopped at a tourist office later to find a B&B or hostel for the night since my tent was soaked and it was still raining. After almost an hour and with no success booking somewhere I proceeded on and decided to knock on hotel doors later in the day when the time came for sleep. To my surprise the sun came out so I stopped at a roadside bakery for croissants and coffee while my tent dried hung over a wall outside. I camped tonight in Sainte-Cécile and I'm typing this in the laundry room. It's the nearest building to the wifi box and my laptop battery is kaput so I need to plug it in every time I use it.

The Longest Day

Day 6: Teuillac – Aigrefeuille-d'Aunis
Time: 8:50:24
Distance: 171.26km
Average Speed 19.3 km/h

I reached Blaye after about a half hour just in time for the Saturday morning market. There was so much to eat but only so much space in my stomach and pannier bags. Blaye is a beautiful small town.
My goal today was to reach La Rochelle. When I was in another beautiful town called Saintes I checked my mails to see if any couchsurfing hosts had accepted my couch request (Sunday - Sylvia And Hans Hartmann were kind enough to offer me a couch but only saw the message today). I had no couch so I decided to go to Rochefort and camp there (if there was a campsite).

Rochefort seemed like a pretty dull town and there didn't seem to be a campsite so I decided to go North in the direction of Nantes and skip La Rochelle altogether.
I found a campsite in the town of Aigrefeuille and stayed there for the night.

The Germans and Free Wine

Day 5: Bordeaux – Teuillac
Time: 2:24:39
Distance: 42.15km
Average Speed 17.4 km/h

I spent the morning exploring Bordeaux on foot with Marcel before starting just before 7 for Blaye. It took a good while to get out of the city. I crossed the Dordogne river after about 80 or 90 minutes. On the way to Blaye I spotted a sign for a campsite. I ended up in Teuillac in a small campsite with very few people. Anyone who stays there gets a free bottle of wine. I spent the night drinking wine with 4 German girls who were camped in the tent next to mine.