Sunday, May 29, 2016

Destination La Rochelle

French Village Diaries cycling to La Rochelle Vélo Francette
The last time I cycled to La Rochelle

Oh France what has gone wrong? It is almost the end of May, yet the rain continues to fall and the sun seems reluctant to put in more than a few hours appearance at a time. The storms that have battered you this weekend have seen huge hailstones raining down; causing destruction to vines, crops and property before piling up on the ground like thick snow, as well as the sad news reports of children being hit by lightening in a Paris park. The weather, it seems, is as miserable as the population, who are either up in arms protesting against new employment laws; causing flight, ferry and rail cancellations, road blockades and fuel shortages or they are stressed and angry at the disruption, the delays and being left stranded.

Today is Mother’s Day in France and I’m sure all Mothers want their children to grow up passionate about their beliefs and confident enough to stand up for themselves, but none of that is any good if they are not happy too. How can anybody be truly happy spending their time setting fire to police cars or burning car tyres in the middle of the road? Come on France, it is time to keep calm and carry on with life. Maybe the sun will come out again if we can all show our sunny sides too.

We were lucky to miss the worst of the bad weather and although we have suffered the disruption and extra expense of cancelled travel plans, we have generally managed to continue life pretty much as normal, so far. With Adrian home for a week, we decided we need a change of scenery, so when the opportunity arose to spend a night at the seaside, La Rochelle to be precise, where the sun always shines and the cafés are perfect for people watching, we jumped at it. Although not far from home, it is one of my favourite places to visit and life there feels very cosmopolitan in comparison to village life here. We will be staying at the Masqhotel and reviewing it for the Freewheeling France website, so taking the bikes seemed logical, plus it will be good training for Adrian in preparation of his 100 mile cycleride this summer and more importantly won’t waste fuel. The recent supply issues have made me much more aware of what a precious resource it really is.

French Village Diaries cycling to La Rochelle Vélo Francette
Vélo Francette in the Vendee



Our plan is to drive to the Marais Poitevin, leave the car and cycle the last 65km into La Rochelle following the Vélo Francette, a 600km marked cycle route from Caen in Normandy to La Rochelle. The cycling should be easy, mostly downhill and on good tracks that follow canals and the Sevre Niortais River. When we arrive we are planning on a beer on a sunny terrace, a meal with a harbour view and a night in a hotel that looks very chic and arty. What we don’t want is rain, hail, heavy winds and storms. Unfortunately the weather forecast shows a bit of everything and not enough sun, so please keep your fingers crossed for us that it won’t be too bad. Thank you.

French Village Diaries cycling to La Rochelle Vélo Francette