Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cycle Touring Day 183

Today marked another step in my cycle touring journey. For the next couple of weeks a friend would be joining me and we would be travelling by car together for a while. We'd be heading in the direction of Ax-les-Thermes in the Midi-Pyrénées as they would be attending a job fair there in in the hope of getting some seasonal winter work for the coming season. Although not overly keen to be travelling by car, it would be nice to have some company for a while and as they had brought their bike with them, it meant that I would have a cycling companion for a while too.

We set off from my final wwoof host of the summer just after 11.45 and made it to the supermarket in La Réole for provisions just before it closed (supermarkets only open until about midday in France on a Sunday). Leaving the supermarket we took the wrong road and drove in the wrong direction for about 20km! Almost 7,000km covered by bike until now and this was the first wrong turn. Coincidence?

Back on the right road we followed the Dordogne river for much of the day and eventually found ourselves in the gorgeous little village of Beynac-et-Cazenac which is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France and I can certainly see why. We parked up and wandered around the village for an hour or so. It as quite a climb to the top past the Chateau de Baynac up to L'église Notre-Dame de l'Assomption de Beynac and the views across the landscape were well worth it!

Our next destination was Sarlat-la-Canéda north of the Dordogne river. Once parked up we walked around the medieval part of the town and had a cappuccino whilst watching the world go by. I snapped a pic or two, as is my wont, of the Cathédrale Saint-Sacerdos de Sarlat and we set off once again to our penultimate destination which was the town of Souillac back along the Dordogne.

Finally, at around 19:00 we made it to our campsite at Lacave right on the banks of the Dordogne river. As the campsite had already closed for the winter we had the place entirely to ourselves. The facilities were all locked up and the water had been turned off, as we had expected, but it was tranquil and well away from any other people. Bliss! As we had the pick of places, we didn't need stake our claim to any particular spot so we drove up to Rocamadour for a night time stroll.

Rocamadour is a medieval city perched on the side of the Alzou valley and as the lights come on in the evening it becomes an even more enchanting place. We arrived just before dusk and after parking up at the top of the hill in the modern part of the town, we wandered down the steep road to the old part. By the time we began to climb the 216 steps in the village it was already getting quite dark. The steps eventually become a zig-zag cliff walk up to a chateau at the summit and as we undertook walk this we couldn't even see our hands in front of our faces, which only added to the spooky atmosphere. By the time we wandered back down the cliff we were pretty much the only people still around and it felt as if we had the entire place to ourselves. We didn't make it back to the campsite until gone midnight but needless to say, it was a jolly peaceful night :)

It's a novelty travelling by car once again. It feels quite strange to be covering such large distances in such relatively short periods of time. Usually 100km takes me about 6 hours on the bike. We can now do that in about an hour.

That is one fancy post office!

The view from the road up to L'église Notre-Dame de l'Assomption de Beynac.

Chateau de Beynac.

The view across to L'église Notre-Dame de l'Assomption de Beynac from just behind the post office, with the Chateau de Beynac top left.

View from the top of the hill in the village of Beynac-et-Cazenac.

Cathédrale Saint-Sacerdos de Sarlat.

Views along the Dordogne river at our deserted campsite in Lacave.

Rocamadour at dusk.

In Rocamadour, looking up.

My wwoofing Summer

Any regular readers of this blog will have noticed that there have been no updates since the end of May. This is because my wwoofing summer has been busier and far more exciting than I could ever have imagined. After five months, I am leaving France this coming week and heading into Spain and Portugal for the next two months. I am quite sad to be leaving France for now and the friends I have made, but I know that new challenges and adventures await me further south.

Here are a few of the many things I have been doing this wwoofing summer...

Cladding a barn

Building a bike for a birthday present

Painting wooden shutters

Staining garden furniture
Painting a bathroom

Collecting fallen fruit
Repairing a wheelbarrow

Stacking logs
Mixing straw and clay... build internal walls... an eco house


...and grouting... worktops

Moving a bi-plane

Repairing a barn roof...

Removing tile...

...after tile...

...after tile...

...and stacking them...
...and then putting them all back again after repairing and waterproofing...

...mixing cement...

...and finishing off.

Moving logs...

...with a little help...

...from man and machine
Splitting logs with machinery...

...and by hand... for the difficult ones

Stacking logs...again

Making a mess...

...and clearing up

Qu'est-ce que vous avez fait cet été?