Saint-Martin-Lacaussade to Bordeaux
Wednesday 22 October
It was market day in Blaye when I arrived with some time to spare before I caught the ferry across to Lamarque, so I went to explore. The first stall had about ten varieties of oysters, some as big as my hand… and another with mushrooms bigger than dinner plates, and the cheeses…. it was a wondrous collection of fresh produce. As I pushed my bike through the stalls, many people stopped and asked ‘Saint Jacque de Compostelle?’… I was well and truly on the pilgrims path here!
The ferry ride, was an option that would cut about 20km from my days journey, and took me through vineyards and chateaus, rather than, I was told, a boring industrial landscape. It was not cheating, as I’ve done well over 20km getting lost! I rode my bike onto the ferry for the twenty minute journey. On the other side, my maps, and google all directed me straight ahead, but there was a perfectly good path that ran along the river, which hopefully would take me to Bordeaux, so I took that instead. After about 8km, it came to a dead, so I backtracked for about 100m where there was a road leading up to some vineyards. I had a delightful few hours riding around the vineyards going from chateau to chateau in the Margaux area, one of the famous regions of Bordeaux. It was a little early for lunch, and I was hoping for a Resturant lunch today, so I continued on.
At one point I saw a small lake filled with ducks, but as I approached, saw the ducks were not real, but decoys… and soon saw two hunters with their guns. It was hunting season. I waved and made sure they saw me. Waved, not flapped.
I was starting to get hungry, but no Resturant in sight, in fact not much but fields, and the odd vineyard, so pulled off the road for some bread and cheese.
I was soon entering the suburbs of Bordeaux, which wasn’t the most pleasant of rides – strips of factories, and car yards. I was unprepared for how big and spread out Bordeaux was, and was a little overwhelmed. Eventually I rejoined the riverfront, and things started to improve as I approached the centre of the city. The sun was shinning, and as it was ‘childrens’ day’ – Wednesday afternoon, many families were out enjoying the esplanade along the river. There were skateboard rinks, BMX bikes, scooters, and a fountain the bubbled out from the path, creating a mist every few minuets. The city center behind was a marvelous sight – the centre of Bordeaux is a UNESCO World Heritage site, I was again overwhelmed (but in a better way).
I was CouchSurfing again tonight, so called my host to let her know I’d arrived. She wasn’t going to be home until 7pm, but gave me her address to meet her later, and made some suggestions for things to do in the meantime. Unfortunately I didn’t have anywhere to leave my loaded bike safely, but had a very pleasant ride around the streets window shopping in the numerous small boutiques. I looked at churches, public squares, the opera house, fountains, and spent a lovely hour in the public gardens. After my initial apprehension, I was beginning to enjoy being in the big city of Bordeaux… a change from the small villages I’d been staying in.
Around seven, I headed to the area my host lived, and found a small park with a free exchange library booth – a small glass doored shelf with instructions to take or leave a free book. Not sitting for long, a woman came up to me, sitting beside me and handed me a book. It was a heavy volume old encyclopedia in French. I said I don’t speak French, but she was an English teacher, and was very interested in my trip. We chatted until my host called to say she was home. I declined the offer of the heavy volume.
Another fantastic home – a huge old apartment with a lovely large backyard to store my bike. My host apologized that she had a class that evening, and could go and have a drink with me now, but that would be the extent of her hosting. She and her boyfriend and I headed to a local bar. He had done the Camino a few months ago, and was very interested in my trip. We were in Bordeaux, so I asked for a glass of wine, but it was a beer bar! They had hundreds of varieties of beer – I asked for something local and was served a rather nice stout. My host ordered a few snacks, and then it was time for her to leave. I thought I would go out and eat somewhere, but my host had only one set of keys, and said she would be home very late… So she took me back to her place. I was rather hungry, but was tired, so just showered and went to bed.