Tuesday, 13 November 2012

France by bike and by van

We've been keeping busy, in between sessions of lying low through wet autumn weather (November being statistically the rainiest month here). When the weather's fair, we get out on the bike and are gradually extending our range as the cycling fitness levels improve.
Our latest run took us up to about 45 miles round trip to the mouth of the Gironde, at Royan.

Autumn leaves in Les Arces 
Royan was badly flattened in the later stages of the Second World War and extensively rebuilt through the 1950s, including the main church, Notre Dame de Royan, which was constructed to a radically new design, begun in 1955 and finished in 1958. The building looks a bit odd from the outside, but the space within is quite remarkably arresting and can accommodate around 2000 people.

The concrete Notre Dame de Royan
Plain without, stunning within 
Digging the beach at Royan
Crazy mud berths at Les Monards
A surprise jaunt to Belgium cropped up when we were given a commission to pick up a big (BIG) van-load of stuff near Brussels and bring it back to Mortagne. We had to make the journey up in one 10-hour go, which was fairly tough, with the crossing of Paris falling smack in rush hour, but once the van was loaded up we were free to do a bit of touring on the way back down and stopped several nights.

Belgian interlude: the park at Tervuren
Gent: Who says Belgium is boring?
Arras town hall, almost entirely rebuilt after WWI
The inner basin at Honfleur, Normandy
Honfleur street
Armistice Day in Normandy
War grave at Pont l'Eveque
The Chateau at Bazouges, Loir Valley
Look back in Angers, at the 12th century cathedral
13th century stained glass windows, Angers Cathedral
Pleasant as the trip was, we were pretty tired by the time we got back and still agree that touring by boat is the best!

Feline sleepover, back on board

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