With Rosie’s friend Grace joining us in just one week (Rosie and Tom barely able to contain their excitement) we needed to free up a seat on the quad tandem and extend our tent/sleeping capacity.
Although EV1 from La Rochelle to Rochefort was unimpressive, often running alongside the freeway, it rather conveniently spat us out right next to Decathlon, the fabulous French chain of outdoor stores. Usually Decathlons are a long way out of town in industrial areas served by busy roads, so to find one next to an EV route was a sign to us that we should Shop Now.
An hour later, we rolled out on two bikes! Helen has Freedom! It felt unbelievably good and very, very peaceful! So now Shane’s rolling with over 100kg less as Helen carries the overflowing Ortlieb panniers and the ridiculously heavy iPad/camera bag.
Our cache also included a replacement helmet for Helen (crushed), new gloves for Shane (lost), monocular for Tom (saved pocket money) and the ubiquitous 2 second 30 euro Decathlon tent for Rosie and Grace to sleep in.
Leaving very grand Rochefort the scenery improved rapidly. The Tourist Office gave us a very useful map of local cycle routes and we took their advice to follow a shortcut out of town connecting back up with EV1 south of Echillais‘ excellent bakery (first decent almond croissant in over a week!) at Saint Agnant.
The cycling between St Agnant and Marennes was sublime. Narrow canals and wetlands rich with wildlife and flowers, illuminated by the sun of a long late summer evening – cycling doesn’t get much better than this.
Well it could have been a bit better for Shane, but Helen thought it was Absolutely Fabulous!!!
Shane, Rosie and Tom all commented on the lack of pedal power coming from now-empty Seat 4 – despite being 100kg lighter, the big bike was harder work. Being free of the front panniers though the bike was far less twitchy.
Arriving very late into Marennes after 65km and some splendid shopping, we accosted a local cyclist to determine the whereabouts of the municipal campsite and a supermarket.
Dominique turned out to be yet another remarkably polite and kind Frenchman who remarkably pedaled with Helen to the supermarket and then pedaled with all of us to the very fine municipal campsite at Marennes Plage. He was very effusive with his appreciation for our family adventure and his spirit added to the warm glow of the evening.
We’re really appreciating the flexibility an additional bike brings to our fold but it’s also a bit strange riding with an empty seat on the quad.
It was dark by the time we had our tents up!