Grace was keen to experience cycling on the quad tandem, sharing a tent with best-buddy Rosie and experiencing life on-the-move.
Leaving Bordeaux the weather started fine-ish and we were left a little uninspired by mansions located beside the muddy-banked tidal Garrone River. Moving away from the river things improved somewhat as we moved amongst infamous Bordeaux vineyards.
We were keen to get the camping underway, but when we got the outskirts of Crèon we found that the campground was located 2km up a very busy road with little to no verge. We considered the risks and chose to play safe, booking ourselves into a two star cheap and cheerful hotel.
The following day dawned grey and raining so we were forced to hunker down for a second day in uninspiring Crèon. We didn’t get up to too much other than extended homeschool and a short walk.
We find that although we enjoy camping, when offered comfortable surroundings we’re fairly uninspired to venture too far. We get very excited about a comfortable pillow and a real towel, drinking out of glass glasses, cooking with more than one burner… Tom’s first response is reliable – to immediately make use of a toilet other than that found in a campground. Funny.
This region of France is somewhat renowned for medieval fortified towns called bastides, built by the occupying English forces during the Hundred Years’ War. Uninspiring Crèon was one of these towns, however cycling from Crèon we ventured upon Sauveterre which had significantly more charm.
The clouds started to loom. To sprinkle. To rain. Then to pour just as we made it to the village of Frontenac and its local bar for a session of hot drinks and home school. We were fortunate to happen upon a local cycling promotional event with hot lunch and live music being offered under-cover.
There were many more locals than participating cyclists present and it quickly turned into a lively charming event.
Being Aussies with a weird bike at a bike fest meant attracting lots of interest. Being offered local wine, being photographed for the local newspaper, being asked lots of questions about our travels…
The weather had remained grey and annoyingly drizzly throughout the day when we arrived at the town of La Reole for our next nights stay. Perhaps it was the weather, perhaps it was the heavy rock concert playing directly across the river from the campsite – finishing up at 1am, but we don’t have any particularly fond memories of the town. In fact, one of the streets reminded Shane of a section of Darjeeling in India.
In response beauty and tranquility were now becoming ever more abundant on the Canal de Lateral cycle path. The signs of autumn were becoming ever more apparent: leaves turning in colour; the light becoming soft and clear; the clouds becoming soft and fluffy; the air becoming occasionally crisp. Sun was shining through the trees, creating perfect weather for cycling.
Following drab La Reole, we spent two nights camping in Damazan, a bastide town that has retained a bunch of character. Our spare day was spent doing washing, bike TLC, blogged… The kids helped Shane with the bike, played in the cornfields, buried their beetle Fred and the girls organised a party for Tom – because he doesn’t have a friend traveling with him. Sweet.
In the afternoon we all ventured into Damazan for shopping and to photograph the medieval town centre.
The kids make quite a sight together on the bike, waving and calling ‘bonjour’ to passing cars, singing songs, chatting. Often they invoke some rowdy yells, ooh-la-las and car bipping. Shane feels like a mix between Pied Piper and gym instructor – the gym instructor having to coax more consistent participation on the bike.