Saturday, July 23, 2011

Heading North

As we left La Rochelle, we realized there was some additional information to share about the region. Food wise, we left the land of duck and pate just north of Pau and entered the land of mussels (moules) and oysters (huitres) at Royan. There are many mussel and oyster beds on the extensive tidal mudflats north of Royan and continuing past La Rochelle. You can order a pot of mussels cooked many different ways and it comes with fries (moules et frites). The French in this area must commonly eat mussels, because even young children order them in the restaurants and eat them with gusto.
The strategic location of La Rochelle has been critical many different times in history. It is the easiest port to reach for resupply after coming up the coast of Africa. Many ships would resupply at La Rochelle saving sailing up the Gironde (to Bordeaux) or the Loire (to Nantes) before crossing the Atlantic ocean. La Rochelle was a stopover for slave ships and a point of immigration for settlers of Nouvelle France (Louisiana and Canada). It was also important for the German U-boat fleet during WW II. We saw the German U-boat bunker on our way out of town. It was used for the filming of Das Boat.

We took a bike path through the farmland as we headed north parallel to the coast. The land was flat and full of corn and sunflowers. We could have been in Kansas.

We spent Friday night at Lucon, yet another town with a medieval church.

We are in another part of France with rolling countryside composed of rich farmland and cute villages.

The corn is high, the grazing land is rich and the cows are fat.

We enjoy the rolling hills much more that the flat farmland. The scenery and the bicycling are just more interesting and the day seems to fly by.

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