Peter and Gerard came to stay last week for a relaxing time cycling around Charente Maritime. Peter had worked in Cognac as a stagiaire a while back so wanted to rediscover the area and see it in the sunshine.
This is a great opportunity to show briefly what a week at Chez les Bons looks like from both the cycling and the eating point of view!
On their first morning we collected their bikes from Royan Bycycles after a breakfast of fresh bread from the local boulangerie with home-made mirabelle jam from the neighbour’s trees.
Our first ride was a local one to loosen the legs and enjoy the stunning estuary with its gentle breeze amongst the vast number of sunflowers and grape vines.
Naturally a coffee stop and light lunch were the order of the day, we set off after lunch at a gentle pace to ensure we made the most of the cool tailwind to assist us home where we were greeted with a nice cold beer and a glass of rose.
Needless to say after such a great start Gerard and Peter were up early and super keen to get in the saddle as today’s schedule was going to be beautiful, taking in medieval dungeons and the beautiful town of Saintes which nestles on the banks of the river Charente. There may have been some dangling of toes in the water on a hot day.
As neither had been to Ile d’Oléron, this was Tuesday’s destination. Peter wanted an easier day so leaving the car nearby, he visited the 17th century citadel of Brouage
Meanwhile Gerard and I headed off for a quick tour of the island taking in its oyster beds and the Lighthouse at the northern tip. After which we all met up for a late lunch in the port of Chateau d’Oléron on the south eastern corner of the island.
When they said they wanted to visit the Médoc on Tuesday and Wednesday my first thought was – what an excellent idea! Having only visited briefly last year, I was keen to get to know this area of pine forests and world-renowned vineyards much better. After a quick online search accommodation was found and booked and we were off on Tuesday morning to get the ferry from Royan.
The afternoon was spent cycling through the shady pine forests on the Atlantic coast.
That evening after a hot 120km we were fed and watered and in bed early!
On Wednesday we went over to the eastern part of the peninsula and along the Gironde Estuary through the vineyards of St Estephe, St Julien and Pauillac. The workers were hard at it trimming back the vines in the baking sunshine, as were we as we cycled 80k working off the bottle of red wine that we had polished off the night before.
The last 60k from Blaye back home from 4.30 onwards were perhaps the hardest as the heat really began to have an effect.
After our exertions in the Médoc, a quieter day was called for on Thursday so a 50k loop through the Fort de la Coubre was in order – finished off with moules frites in the sunshine at La Tremblade.
Total – 576km for the week!
What did we eat?
Thanks very much for coming Peter and Gerard, and from the feedback you really enjoyed it too – I can’t wait to see you again next year.