Bonjour Bretagne – La Rochelle – Vannes

After breakfast at the Patisserie across the road (hotel breakfast for 15 Euro sounded a bit expensive…) we left La Rochelle at 10am.

11:30 first bum and coffee break at a boulangerie in L’Oie. So far we were riding on those broad very very straight roads and there was quite some traffic on them. Lots of lorries probably avoiding the toll roads. Good for us though to practice some overtaking. With a good view ahead for oncoming traffic, we could easily go past all those cars and lorries one by one. And many of the drivers actually made way for us, pulling over to the hard shoulder a bit so we could get past. Very nice.

After a Tiramisu and coffee, we hit the road again, unfortunately right behind a very very very wide “convoi exceptionnel”. If only we had been like 10 seconds earlier, we would’ve pulled out in front of it. So we had to sit behind this all the way for an hour to the outskirts of Nantes. It was so wide, often blocking the whole width of the road, that overtaking was a no-go.

Once Google Maps sent us a different way at a roundabout, we thought that was it, along a minor D road, couple of roundabouts more and then we just saw it again at the next roundabout and we had to give way to it. Bummer. Beat by 10 seconds again, argh.

Nantes reminded us a bit of Birmingham. Quite an industrial heritage, but with the end of the main industry (shipping in this case), the city had to change. There were some nice looking bars and restaurants along the river in the centre, but generally it didn’t look very appealing. Probably one of those place where you have to know where to go.

Afterwards we rode through what felt like hundreds of roundabouts, but had some nicer smaller roads with more greenery and small villages. Less of those busy super straight roads. The sky cleared up more and more and it was getting hotter again. Never as hot as previous days though. So we could actually get off the bikes for short bum breaks without being drenched in sweat straight away.

Coffee break 4pm in Pénestin. We had ridden through the Parc Naturel Régional de Brière. Other than expected we had not encountered thick woods, but rather a mix of some open farmland and wooded sections interspersed with small villages and lots and lots of campsites.

Pénestin

Again this area had a totally different feel to it. Buildings were smaller, often only one story high with light colours walls and flatter roofs. With lots of trees and palm tress in between them we could’ve just as well been somewhere like Southern California. It was certainly warm enough now.

After Pénestin it was only one more hour to go for Vannes. Arrived 17:30, checked in, showers of course and off into town. Oh, we liked this place. For me… I was like a kid in a sweets shop. All those lovely semi-timbered houses! And the colours! And the odd shapes! Ah, heaven. Heading toward 19:30 we were both quite hungry now, so after some wandering around we found a nice little restaurant, got a table and went for a two course meal this time with a shared cheese and charcuterie platter and burgers. Food was excellent, so was Rich’s local wheat beer and my white wine.

So far so good Vannes. Walked to the harbour and then back through the quiet streets back to the hotel.

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