Week 34: Toulouse to the Île d’Oléron via Bordeaux

Monday and it was raining in Toulouse. We had wanted to cycle in to the old town and have a mooch around, but it was that fine rain that will soak you in seconds., so instead we sorted some chores and then headed out to the Supermarket and Garage to fill up with food and LPG (GPL in France).

Tuesday and the sun came out, so we got out our bikes and headed along the Canal de la Garonne to the end of the Canal du Midi, The point where the two meet (along with the Canal de Brienne) is called Ponts Jumeaux (Twin Bridges). We can now say we have been to both ends of the Canal du Midi, although some deem the Canal de la Garonne to also be part of the Midi – known in full as the Canal Entre Deux Mers.

We cycled along the Canal du Midi (we actually thought it was the Canal de Brienne!) until we headed towards the Capitole. We stopped in the square opposite the Capitole, where there was a market and ate our lunch, before heading off to see some sights, including the Monument aux Morts, les Abattoirs and the Pont Neuf, before having a random cycle around and returning to the campsite along the canal.

Wednesday, we left Toulouse and headed along the Canal de la Garonne towards Bordeaux. The landscape changed several times and we passed fruit trees and polytunnels before heading into the vineyards and chateau landscape of the Bordeaux region. We only passed three Convoi Exceptionals, and we didn’t need to drive up any driveways to escape from them! We stopped for the night outside Bordeaux in Créon.

Thursday morning after a short stroll to the bakery for bread, we set off to Bordeaux and a campsite on the outskirts in Bruges. After a quick alfresco lunch in the sun, we went on a short cycle to the city, just to have a brief look. We cycled along the river bank to the Pont de Pierre, along the opposite bank to the amazing Pont Jacques Chaban Delmas, before cycling back over it and back to the campsite. The Pont Jacques Chaban Delmas, was opened in 2013 and has a horizontally rising platform to allow boats to pass under. We had gained a couple of ducks as friends today, although they did get a tad too nosey!

Friday, we set off into the city on our bikes for a proper look and after cycling to the river bank, we headed to the Place de la Bourse – with its square and buildings on three sides (although part of the building was covered for renovations) and its reflecting pool – closed for the winter. Next, we headed to the Cailhau Gate and the Opera building, along with the Big Bell of Bordeaux. We then cycled off on our own random route, before heading back to the river and the campsite. Along the river we saw a barge transporting part of an Airbus A380. Today on the campsite we have another little friend a small black cat who tried to come in to see us!

Saturday, we headed off again towards the coast and stopped in Arcachon. We are going to be travelling up the west coast and this seemed like a good place to start.

Sunday, we started our day with a trip to the Dune du Pilat, the largest sand dune in Europe. We parked up and started the trip to climb it. We think that the whole of the local community and their friends had decided to do the same – it was so busy. After removing our shoes we climbed almost to the top, looking at the amazing views across the bay, but thought we’ll come back another time, when we are more prepared – we needed to take a lunch basket and water to be able to appreciate it better. We also had a ferry to catch across from the peninsula at Point de Grave to Royan.

The ferry to Royan is a brief crossing about 25 minutes long, but it did feel a little choppy – a little like the Solent on a bad day, so not terrible. We carried on to the Île d’Oléron and the campsite we had chosen for the night, but being out of season there was not a lot open and even the one we had chosen, had no-one available to see, so we headed along to another we’d found. The landscape on the island had changed to oyster farms and vineyards. The weather has changed and it’s now drizzly and grey.

Tomorrow, we’ll continue our journey along the west coast. We have a vague idea of where we’re going, but next week we’ll share with you our trip. Thank you for reading.

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