Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Fontenay day trip

View Fontenay day trip in a larger map

Out into new territory, with an 08:00 start, and I get to where I left off past L'Orbrie walking by 09:30, having taken a while to push the bike down the obvious (but one-way) route through town (not that the locals seem deterred by the signs) and to take photos.

If I had gone on last year, the path (where one is advised to push unless extra fit on a mountain bike) would have been a young river, as I'd expected. Today it was the hottest and nastiest 200m pushing up a dried river bed I've gone with a bike; and by the time I reach the top, I'm drenched with sweat. Not a good omen.

The forest road is nice to ride; but I misread the instructions, not helped by the pink squiggles drawn on my copy of the map, and don't look for the side turn to Vouvant soon enough, and end up at les Quilleres, so I hack back across a diagonal of the suggested route to Vouvant — the slightly-more-main road is empty enough and is pleasant riding. Vouvant is a pretty town (see photos), with church, castle, loads of flowers, and lots of low-flying swallows, as well as buzzards higher up.

Flowers at Vouvant

I now try to cast the way back, and can't find the forest road from this end either, so take the Route Forestiere de Verrieres instead, and get back to the road I'd started on. Finally find the Belle Cepee sign hidden by undergrowth. I try to cross the river at Pierre Brune (brown stone cliffs), but the road is closed that day for tree surgery.

Now very hot, and no wind; it's stifling under the trees. I shed helmet for sun-hat, and backtrack to Mervent, which is resurfacing hell, grit and tar and roadworks everywhere. I don't regret skipping it earlier, and do regret doing the up and over now. I'm not going back on the path I came up, so I carry on to the main road. It's a lot of pushing up hill, too hot for hard work in low gear, but once past the climb up out of the river valley, it's downhill almost all the way to Fontenay, just one last hard left and push up to the hotel. I'm hot, very hot, but not tired. Need lots to drink, though, and then force myself out to buy more for tomorrow, when I'll have over 5 litres on board.

Dinner is a crab and avocado mould with some pale stuff that turned out to be cucumber, then the rest is as yesterday, except I skipped cheese, being too full.

Early finish for the meal at 20:15, so I wander into town to try and find something photogenic, rather than the usual shabby. A thermometer says 25 degrees; it's still saying 22 well after 21:00. This is not what I'd been expecting — indeed I'd put on a long sleeved shirt for dinner and regretted it; it's still more than comfy with sleeves rolled up at 21:15 as I jot these notes.

There is no sign of the clouding over from the morning's weather forecast, and the cooler weather I'd expected from the long range forecasts went further north. If I do the Midi tour next year, that will definitely be early May!


majikthijs said...

Hello Steve, nice blog. I was wondering about your Fontenay post and whether you got around to visiting the abbey. It's well worth a visit next time you're there, a tad on the expensive side though.
For more majik visit:

Steve Gilham said...

This is Fontenay-le-Comte in the Vend�e, not the Fontenay in Burgundy, which has the Abbey.