Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Niort to Fontenay le Comte

Cirrus haze over cumulus over farmland

Metéo is lousy - so make an early start (08:00 local), while there's still sun through early cloud. As the morning wears on, there is first cirrus haze over the fair weather cumulus, then mackerel sky. I can see the warm front coming in off the Atlantic, and I'm riding into the wind of its approach.

Willows and watermeadow

Sample of the prettiest bits of the marais.

The marais country - water-meadows cum fenland - is pretty, with lots of wildflowers, and willow hedges, but the looming weather dissuades me from lingering to admire.

At Ste Christine, I'm watched by a mother cat and her 4 six-month old offspring. They look seriously at me from the verge, but stalk off before I can retrieve the camera.

It just gets windier - when I've still got 4-5 miles to go, there are spits on the wind, and it's blowing so hard across my path that I can hardly keep the bike on the road. As ever, while there is a simple and direct route on the map, the suggested route goes through the most insalubrious industrial bit of town, and involves left turns in busy traffic.

I get to the hotel just as the rain arrives. Dinner is marbré du canard avec foie gras and rognons de veau, followed by tart tatin. And a pichet of the local red.