Yesterday afternoon saw the boys pedalling into the stunning Port of La Rochelle for a much anticipated first rest day.
The last couple of days’ cycling has been lovely for them, pottering along the well-made, maintained & sign-posted trail along the Vendée Coast and through the wetlands of the beautiful Marais Poitevin.
As they parked their bikes at the hotel they had clocked up 351.4 miles since leaving home last Friday afternoon. I think if we’re honest, none of us imagined they’d be in La Rochelle already.
…. is nothing to write home about, particularly as with all their cycling gear piled in the room with them there’s no room to walk around the beds, let alone swing the proverbial cat!
However it has got a pool and is in a great central location, which means the boys really can just leave the bikes behind & walk to wherever they want to get to. They’ve also been able to properly wash their clothes & also give the tent a clean to try to rid it of the ‘vegetably’ smell it has developed – so hopefully they won’t look quite as dishevelled when they leave.
This last week has certainly seen them have some adventures, including (on the first day) stumbling into the middle of the French equivalent of ‘Glastonbury’ and their arrival in La Rochelle was no different. Without knowing they had managed to arrive in the midst of the practice sessions for this weekend’s hugely popular Red Bull Cliff Diving Event.
This it appears, is a truly incredible event to watch with a diving board constructed 27m up on one of the imposing stone towers at the entrance to ‘Le Vieux Port’
Even the practice sessions are a real spectacle and the boys spent yesterday evening watching from the Quay, whilst bizarrely one of Tom’s friends was sat at home watching the live coverage.
We’ve always had a real soft spot for La Rochelle, having spent many holidays there and on the nearby islands when the boys were little and so this really is a trip back down ‘Memory Lane’ with trips planned to some favourite old haunts – just for old times’ sake of course!
It’s also a fantastically vibrant and beautiful place to visit & last night the harbour was packed with stalls & street performers, with loud music being played through loudspeakers…….. certainly a great injection of fun & at the same time the perfect place to chill out for the boys for a couple of nights.
After a great meal last night the boys spent today enjoying everything La Rochelle has to offer.
First stop was the Aquarium http://www.aquarium-larochelle.com/ where they played in the interactive river for ages – much to the consternation of other younger children who were dying to run through the ‘water’ & scare the ‘fish’ too!
Followed by the Maritime Museum, where we had spent untold hours with the boys when they were little http://www.museemaritimelarochelle.fr/contenu/,Accueil,131
Then a trip on ‘La Grande Roue’ which has appeared on the harbour
In fairness they’ve had a lovely day, although they’re looking forward to getting back on the bikes again tomorrow and continuing the ride.
They have though certainly benefited from the day off – in fairness their legs felt fine, as well as their bums – but they were just fatigued after 7 days in the saddle turning the pedals. Having a day off to wander around slowly, in a place where there’s lots going on & plenty of places to sit has been great and they can’t think of anywhere better than La Rochelle
They have also taken the opportunity to really sort through their panniers & see what they haven’t been using, package it up & send it home.
In the run up it was difficult to know what they would need & already several things have been discarded, but today has seen a major cull of clothes including fleeces & shorts and even 1 sleeping bag, which has decreased the load by an incredible 5kg.
So after a swim in the hotel pool this afternoon & another few hours around the harbour tonight they’ll hopefully get another good night’s sleep & head on again, refreshed tomorrow.
The great thing is they are having a brilliant time – despite the problems they have had & the general fatigue they are loving the cycling and are having a real laugh as they go. After just over 350 miles you can’t ask for any more than that ……..
Long may it last!
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