Our bed was so luxurious last night we didn’t want to get out of it this morning. It rained quite a bit during the night but was starting to ease by the time we had breakfast.
I said we felt like royalty in our big bed last night, well this morning we were served a breakfast that was fit for a King & Queen. There was a fresh fruit salad, croissants, bread, fresh preserves, small crepes, cheese, ham, yoghurt, stewed apples, cake and freshly squeezed orange juice. The big table was beautifully laid with fresh flowers.
It was then time to hit the road – the rain had stopped and being a Sunday morning the country lanes were quiet. We managed to follow the trip notes for the first hour until disaster struck – we took a wrong turn and ended up going back to a village we had already been too. We worked out what we had done wrong due to unclear notes and decided to take a more direct route.
We got to the outskirts of Bordeaux but it wasn’t clear which way the centre was. We stopped and asked this father and son who told us to go back three lots of traffic lights and turn left. Once we saw some street signs with suburbs close to the centre we felt a bit better. We then found the Decathlon store mentioned in the notes and started following the instructions again – another go round in circles moment and some choice words! I must say I felt quite stressed knowing that we had a train to catch – we were so close but so far.
We were to follow the Garonne River into the centre and managed to find a trail but it was then barricaded up. We had just seen another cyclist go up a ramp onto the bridge so decided to back track and follow him. We were still not 100% convinced that we were right so stopped another cyclist to confirm. We were about 2km to the centre of Bordeaux and got back onto the cycling lane that we had left the city by three days earlier.
By this time it was 1.20pm – we were meeting Graham at the train station with our bags about 2.30pm in order to catch our 3.18pm train to Paris. We had some lunch, got our bags and headed across to the station. Found the platform, the train arrived at 3.13pm and once we located our carriage I’m telling Steve to get on the train with the two bags and a golf bag. There is not a lot of space for bag storage and Steve was sorting out the suitcases while I’m dragging the golf bag on – my theory is that once we’re on we can sort the bags – just get on the train. At 3.18pm the train pulled out of the station – they do not muck around – we hadn’t even found our seats.
Doing my own personal bike trip debrief I would have to say that it wasn’t all that I expected. The cycling was nice but having to navigate these country lanes and little villages without, in our opinion, really clear notes took the enjoyment out of it. You were constantly wondering if you were going in the right direction. However, the hotels, food and people we met along the way well and truly made up for that – we want to come back to this area to experience more of that.
The other thing I thought was that you would be able to pop into the Chateaus and do wine tastings like we can in NZ but it doesn’t work like that here – you have to make appointments at a lot of the Chateaus and because this is not peak season a lot of them aren’t operating. Next time we return we will do things differently – a bike tour guide with pre organised visits to the Chateaus. Who’s keen?
Our train trip to Paris was fast – 3 hours 15 minutes to cover 500km. We got a taxi to our hotel which is about a 1km from the Arc de Triomphe. We had a wander around the streets and had some dinner. There are so many smart cars here but when you see the streets and the parking spaces you can understand why!