I left Frontenac at nine. The weather was just right – bright and not too warm. The remainder of the cycle track to Sauveterre was entirely empty of people
and I did the 15 or so kilometres that completed it in about an hour including a visit to the village of Saint Brice, home of an outstanding Médoc.
I went to Saint Brice for no other reason than that I had drunk many cases of local wine in the nineties when we were able to obtain it in Paris at a very favourable price. I stopped in Sauveterre to buy a few provisions and set off south on the small roads to La Réole.
The map below showing my route to La Réole and Marmande, my destination for the evening, was generously provided by Michèle Duranteau in Frontenac along with all the other maps of the cycle-tracks along both the Canal de Garonne and the Canal du Midi.
The small roads south from Sauveterre-de-Guyenne to La Réole proved reasonably easy to follow and I arrived at the bridge over the Garonne at around eleven. The route took me past the medieval Moulin de Loubens on the river Dropt – once the property of Eleonor of Aquitaine, the structure contains remains of a much earlier Gallo-Roman mill –
and the Château Lavison, built by Edward 1st of England and home of a fine Bordeaux.
By the time I got to La Réole, it was getting hot and I was anxious to get onto the tow-path of the canal. I took a quick look around the town,
crossed the bridge over the Garonne,
and quickly made my way to Fontet where I joined the Canal de Garonne.
After a leisurely lunch at a marina a couple of miles along the canal, I set off towards
Marmande, or rather to the chambres d’hôte in Beaupuy, close to Marmande, my destination for the evening.
After the increasing heat and the effort of slogging up hills in rising temperatures, the ride along the canal was a welcome relief. The water cools the air, the old trees on either bank provide continuous shade and there are no hills. It’s a wonderful environment in which to cycle.
Unfortunately, these conditions didn’t last. When I got to my exit point from the canal at Pont des Sables, I faced a long straight road into Marmande in burning heat. I then committed the error of riding up the long hill to Beaupuy. This was a long slog of several kilometres and it turned out to be unnecessary. I tried to phone the chambres d’hôte for precise directions, but since no-one was answering, I decided to get to the village first and then ask the locals. I had no precise address for the place, just the words Bas de Beaupuy which should have been enough to warn me against climbing any hills. At the top of the hill, a chap cutting his hedge broke the bad news. The place I was looking for was down there, he said, pointing to a precise spot down in the valley. He gave me directions for getting there after an altercation with his wife who disagreed with everything he said and I freewheeled back down to the bottom.
The chambres d’hôte was owned by a retired couple, Monsieur and Madame Gilbert Constant [see: http://www.chabirante.com/] and they turned out to be extremely friendly, welcoming and full of apologies for not having been able to answer the phone and for putting me through a bit of unnecessary hill-climbing.
After a shower and a few pastis on the terrace next to my room in the warm evening breeze,
I wandered off to the local Leclerc hypermarket about ten minutes away and bought my dinner. Having polished that off along with a few more pastis it was time for bed.