Tuesday, 14 June 2011


It is not just me that cycles to appreciate wildlife, there are signposted routes all over this part of France to show the delights of seeing wildlife on a bike. I am now in Longville-Sur-Mer, 58 bike miles north west of Rochefort.

We have now finished forest trails, albeit there was a final flourish for a few miles from Soulac to the ferry terminal at Pointe de Grave.

If I could describe the last two days, much of it was spent cycling with wildlife intersperced with rich farmland. It was all low lying much like the Somerset Levels in England. There were drainage ditches, called canals here everywhere. Where the ground was higher, it was crops and vegetables. Where lower, it was wild flower grassland grazed by charolais cattle. There are so many birds here. I am embarrased to only know a few names. Egrets are everywhere. Old nog, the heron, is almost as numerous. Swallows appear from nowhere in vast numbers. They enjoy the mudflats and natural landscape that exists.

Many people are out on their bikes. This gentleman is cycling around France. We spoke to a couple on a tandem who work for a company manufacturing wind and kite surfing equipment. Others are touring or shopping. Racing cyclists go past us as we are snails.

We had a happy evening exploring Rochefort, apparantly the first city in the world with a modern grid system. Although planned in 1671, or thereabouts, it happily accepts cars with its wide streets. It was the model for all american cities, the template having been taken there by Lafaytte, the intrepid French sailor who played a key role in developing North America.

Some other things that we found fascinating included the transporter bridge built in 1900 that now takes cyclists into Rochefort. I now know three transporter bridges. The others are in Middlesbrough, England and Hamburg, Germany.

An important industry here is mussel and oyster farming. It is quite atmospheric looking at the preserved wooden oyster shacks. Tomorrow we head north towards St Naziare.

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