Another week has flown by, now the adventure is really beginning…if it ever stops raining!
We had a lovely week staying with my mum and dad, catching up and just enjoying our time together again. Added bonus was that Mum & Dads oldest friends, Anne & Ken (the type of parent friends you call aunty & uncle) were visiting too! We were blessed with some gorgeous weather the first few days, Iain and I took a couple of rides out, exploring the area and getting to know how to use the GoPro Hero 6. It was a bit trial and error, but I think we have it pretty set up now so hopefully there will be some good video footage to come!
There’re some lovely areas around Antigny. The first day we rode out to Mervent where we took the twisty roads through the “Massif Forestiere,” stopping off for some coffee, pictures and videos along the way.
We then rode over to Fontenay le Comte, where Iain continued his tradition of buying a watch on our bike trips. This time it was a damn site cheaper than the crappy one he bought in Ecuador last year and hasn’t worn since!
The next day we went back to an old favorite, Vouvant. This fortified village has history right back to the 11th century and is a beautiful little spot to stop and enjoy a cold glass of beer after exploring for a bit.
We took some time out to stroll along the river walk, enjoying the scenery and then took off for home, stopping along the way to have some fun splooshing in the water and messing about with the GoPro -it’s pretty cool!
Thursday was the day we celebrated “la Grande Dame.”
My mum, matriarch of our family, wife, mother, grandmother and great grand mother, turned 70 and it was fantastic to be there with her and celebrate her through the day. We returned to Vouvant for lunch and later the lovely hosts at “Le Bar” opened up for a private party. Much fun was had by all!
On Friday, Iain and I set off to visit his pal Charlie, from the army days, and his wife Sharon. Originally, it was our plan to visit them on the way to mum and dads, but again plans needed to change, and so we back tracked a bit on the journey.
Using the GPS, we decided to take the scenic route, and it started out really well. We enjoyed the twisty roads (with a decent speed limit) and passed through some really picturesque villages. We barely encountered any other traffic and were cruising along quite happily, until, with just an hour left to the journey, we came across a road block – “Route Barée.” However, there was no sign of any work happening and no indication for a diversion. As we were trying to review the map and decide what to do, another car came along, nipped through the barriers and carried on down the road. We decided to follow…call us renegades!!
A bit further down at an intersection, we came across the blocks again, still no diversion signs. This time, the road had been roughed up and was ready for new tarmac. We decided not to chance riding on through and tested our luck at map reading, heading down roads that looked like they were going in the same direction we wanted!
We got lucky except for once when we went up a bit of a farm track. Still, it got us where we wanted and made for some fun along the way!
Eventually we arrived at our destination and enjoyed another night of catching up, laughter and fun, accompanied by good food and cold beverages 😉
Charlie and Sharon have done an amazing job on their home, they sure had some vision. When they bought it, it was a three sided barn with a dodgy roof. Now it’s a beautiful 2 bedroom, very comfortable, home. Charlie showed us around his “estate” complete with fruit trees, nut trees, various veggies starting and even beehives. Iain did have some fun ribbing his pal about becoming “Farmer Charlie”!
Sadly, we only had time to spend one night and it was up and out the next morning for the return ride. The day started overcast and we were expecting to encounter some rain along the route home. After about an hour, a small shower started and we began our usual, “do we/don’t we” routine. Whereby we try to decide if it’s just a shower or if we need to pull over and pull out the waterproofs! We try to put them off as long as possible. They’re really super embarrassing to wear. Mine aren’t so bad, just mahoosive on me. In fact, they were new “Frog Togs” which we just decided to buy almost at the last minute before we left home and had yet to be tested. Iain’s are famously referred to as the “Yellow Perils”. We opted to pull over and struggle into them…and were extremely thankful we did. The heavens opened shortly after and they were well and truly tested – they passed, we remained dry for the rest of the ride!
We spent our last night with mum and dad before the “Great Adventure” truly began.
We all walked to the local pub where mum was quite insistent that I go to visit the refurbished toilets. Yes, yes quite lovely mum but I did wonder why she was so keen for me to see them? This thought has come back to me over the next couple of days as I was exposed to the reality of French public lavatories…without too much detail, they’re just not pleasant – not to mention they seem to be all in one. As in, the ladies have to walk past the men’s urinals to get to an enclosed closet. Very interesting!!
It was sad to wave farewell to them but at least this time I knew it was only for 7 weeks. We had a long day ahead of us, heading across France to the city of Vichy where we planned to overnight on way to the first exploring stop, Claix. Two hours into the ride, the rain started and out came the waterproofs again. The rain persisted the entire duration of the journey, a fun 3 hours of rain, rain and more rain. We were very happy to finally arrive at our destination.
Would you believe it though…no sooner had we arrived and gone through the whole palaver of off loading etc, than the damn rain stopped! Which was good because we had to wander out into the town and get some dinner. Except it was Sunday and everywhere we passed was closed! Eventually though, we did find a place that was open and filled ourselves up on some good french food, all ordered in my best schoolgirl French…hey, I get us by!
Leaving Vichy this morning, we were expecting to hit the rain again so opted for the “fastest route” to Claix (3hrs), rather than the scenic route which would have been 5 hours. Nevertheless, it was still a fairly nice ride. Traffic was light and though overcast, there was no rain! As we approached the town of Grenoble, near our final destination, I was super excited to spy the mountains ahead and still with snow on! We’re looking forward to exploring up around there for the next few days 🙂
We were met by our friendly AirBnB host, Marion, who only speaks French and I struggled through as she talked (very fast) about the home and what was what etc. but I got the gist of it and know how to work the kettle so we’ll be fine! We settled into the cute place that will be home for three days and then set off to explore the town, buy necessities (bread, beer, wine), and scope out a good bar to watch the French play Ireland in a football match. I wonder how the French folks will take to us cheering on the Irish team!!
Post Script; Because it’s taking so long to upload videos and pictures this is already out of date! We never did get to find any food and we didn’t see the game (which is probably good as the Irish were beaten 2-0 by the French!)
We’ve spent an amazing couple of days here exploring and riding some exhilarating roads but we’re ready to move on to our next stop, Chamonix, tomorrow!
Look out for a post with pics and videos of our last couple of days here in Claix 🙂
Follow our posts as we prepare for our 13 week tour of Europe that starts in May 2018!