Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Riding west of Bordeaux

This holiday had been a 2 centre holiday where we spent the first part of the holiday near the Atlantic coast west of Bordeaux.  This part of France is characterised by one very large beach that runs down to the Pyrenees and consists mostly of sand dunes and pine forests.  A bit of a simplification but nevertheless fairly accurate.  

The inland lakes at Lacanau and Hourtin offer the contrast of flat water and strong tides of the wild Atlantic coast.  So for a triathlete on holiday it is just about a perfect spot for some open water swimming.  In July the lake was at least 20 degrees so non wetsuit swimming was fine.  In fact idyllic, the campsite we were staying on meant I was 75 metres from bed to lake!  Perfect for an early morning swim before the heat of the day builds.

There is a network of bike paths through the forests which is a good thing as the road network offers fairly limited choices - a big contrast to the Vendee ride.  In particular the stretch between Hourtin and Carcans was very busy with traffic driving up to the ferry to cross the Gironde to Royan.  It was however very flat so you could get your head down and minimise the time on the road.

This ride was about 90km and fairly hot.  Going north was fairly undulating and I managed to get on a dedicated cycle path between Carcans plage and Hourtin L'Ocean which was an old departmental road closed to traffic rather than one of the narrower purpose built cycle routes.

A nice ride, but you have to plan your coffee stop(s) carefully as there aren't many villages to pass through.  You'll get to see a lot of pine trees and sandy dunes and tracks, hear plenty of crickets and in summer you feel the warmth.  Go well prepared with drinks. 


The vast Atlantic beach - HourtinL'Ocean

Hourtin Plage (the lake)

The marina at Houtin Plage

Carcans Plage

Not many roads to pick from
Ticking a few more boxes for making a great holiday location, this campsite also enables me to rekindle my love of windsurfing with the added benefit of rigging up the sails at the beginning of the  holiday and leaving them rigged until it was time to go.
Time to windsurf on the lake.
Great Bordeaux wines to enjoy too!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Riding in the Vendee

One of the great things I really like about holiday's when I can take my bike with me is the freedom to explore roads that I've not ridden before, enjoy some great weather and seeing new landscapes.

This ride was a 94k loop around the Vendee - west France, starting near Olonne sur Mer heading inland through the Marais - the salt marshes / salt harvesting flats and into the interior before heading north and west to come back to the coast.

It was an early morning ride just after sun rise so the temperatures were pleasant before the heat of the day set in. Here's a few pictures I took as I went along.  Next I'll post up details of a ride I did near the Atlantic coast west of Bordeaux.

The marais

A ruined windmill

It wouldn't be France in July without sunflowers

Hill top chateau

St Giles de Croix

The route at Map My Ride