Friday, July 15, 2011

Heading towards the Medoc

Wednesday morning we left St. Parentis around 9:00 in a light drizzle after watching heavy downpours come down from 7 - 8:30. The weather began to clear after lunch. We had seen guacamole on the menu for a couple of days and ordered it.

It was good, but we missed some good tortilla chips. We continued on north through pine forest, but got closer to the beach. We learned later that there are over a million square hectares of pine forest on France's southern coast. The beaches are natural and the resort areas have simple wooden structures. These are definitely not Italian beaches.

Just south of Archachon, we saw the largest sand dune in France. It is just over 100 meters tall and is a dramatic sight on the coast.

The bay of Archachon is unique in having an outlet to the sea. We had ridden around several lakes on the way north. In the past, they had been open to the sea, but the rivers flowing into them were not strong enough to keep the sandbars from forming and closing off the lakes from the ocean. However, the river flowing into the bay has a strong current and the tidal flow in and out of Archachon is significant. We arrived at high tide when the bay covers 150 square kilometers. When we left on Thursday morning it was low tide when the bay only covers 40 square kilometers. Wow! Boaters really have to plan their outings according to the tides!

Thursday was a long day (96 kilometers), but we had a tailwind for nearly 33 kilometers. We ended up camping next to small chateau that was a chambres d'hotes. There was no room at the inn, but the owners graciously allowed us to camp on the grounds.

Friday morning we had a nice breakfast in the chateau before heading towards Paulliac in the heart of the Medoc region north of Bordeaux. The chateaus along the road were breathtaking.

Chateaus fairly dotted the countryside. They stuck out on the skyline, here, there, everywhere. Tonight we are in Pauillac, just south of some of the really famous wine chateaus. Tomorrow we will go without luggage to make a circuit of some of the most architecturally interesting chateaus.


mas said...

No tortilla chips, OUCH! I have the opposite challenge, we're at an all-inclusive resort in Akumal, Yucatan, and it is a struggle NOT to eat Mexican food at every meal. Just saw part of the Tour de France yesterday when they left Pau, you were SO CLOSE. Love the last two sets of photos with the nice French beaches, stranded boats and awesome chateaus. Keep 'em coming.

love, mas

bombi said...

Again, what an incredible trip. It's interesting how being on a bike brings out the best in people, not to mention how being in the saddle gives so much more perspective of the surroundings.

I've finally caught up on all your posts! Busy on this end, and I just got back from AZ. last night.


Dave and Belinda said...

Thanks Mark, we actually visited the two cols featured in that stage a few days ahead of the tour. Those bike racers are amazing! They actually raced up those climbs that I would just be lucky to survive! BTW, I wouldn't mind eating Mexican food for a week of Sundays about now, I really miss it!

Hey Beel, bike touring is a great way to travel. It's not for everyone and has it's own set of unique frustrations, but we love it!