Hot hot hot, that was the forcast as 29 of us set out towards Jonzac. Past fields of sunflowers and maize we wended our way before picking our way through the back streets of Jonzac to stop for a morning café stop in the shadow of the citadel. Ice creams and cokes consumed we headed back towards Pons before the majority split of to return to the cool of the pool whilst 4 fathers headed for the citadel at Pons. A restful afternoon for most as the 3 swimming pools took the strain whilst the younger ladies baked a cake.
Monday was even hotter so the coast beckoned. Fortunately, I had a ride in hand so after driving to Epagnes we set of downhill to the coast. Well I say that but I’d forgotten the small hill in the way, something that my daughter Louise is fond of reminding me. Like Sustrans the French are building long distance cycleway so we quickly connected to the Atlantic Cycleway taking us along a green lane before a white gravelled track with glorious views of Tailbert. A briefish stop next to the fairground before heading further north passing fishing huts and sea views. 3km of busier road and we arrived at Suzac Plage where the enormous jellyfish lay in the surf and French baking in the sun. For the children it didn’t take much to persuade the adults to cycle back to the cars to collect them from the beach and we duly obliged. The evening took us to Café de Dojon for an outdoor meal in the shadow of the Donjon.
Tuesday was so hot, we spent the day in the pool, leaving Wednesday to revisit Pons via the country lanes to the north. Through Avy, Biron and Montils with their spectacular decorated church doorways. Back at Pons many of us climbed the stone Donjon in the centre of town.
Thursday took us west, so it was a novelty to turn left as we headed through the flat countryside to Gemozac. For some the café called as we rested awhile in the shadow of the pointed spire. Seaview’s and a fast descent took us to the port at Mortagne sur Gironde. An inland basin filled with yachts and bounded by numerous cafes, lunch was in full swing as we settled next to the small circus tent munching baguettes and fillings watching the world go by. Along the coastal plain before turning inland to Saint Fort sur Gironde where the café had folded which was a shame as it was a lovely stop in past years. One last climb took us back onto the flat and it was pretty quick back to the chateau where Peter the Danish chef prepared pork and potatoes whilst the children dined on pizza.
Loading the bikes up on Friday, we headed for Jarnac for a trip down the River Charente. After the heat at the start of the week the temperature was perfect as we passed the Abbaye Saint Etienne de Bassac heading for Chateauneuf where the boulangeries were emptied and we had café in the shadow of the town hall. Through vineyards and passing Pernod makers we looped over the river to lunch by the river near Mosnac. Surprisingly warm, there were fish, crayfish and the odd cyclist as we leaped from the wooden staging. Along the river bank to return to the road, if only the UK had tracks like this. It was midafternoon as we stopped briefly again at Chateauneuf for cans of drink before heading back to Jarnac along a vineyard littered valley. 5km from home, we split as some elected for the riverside track whilst the rest elected for the tarmac and we reconvened back by the River Charente to load the bikes for the final time.