Bordeaux: Lost in France – and the vines were overflowing.

Gretel dropped us off at our hotel in Bordeaux.  We then walked through the old city, along the river to orientate ourselves. On the way back, we stopped for a beer at a pub to discover that the owner was a rugby tragic. Couldn’t wait to tell us that Adam Ashley-Cooper of the Wallabies, is now playing for Bordeaux. He also has autographed photos of Wallaby, All Black and Springbok players.

One of a number of gates into Bordeaux's old city.

One of a number of gates into Bordeaux’s old city.

Another Bordeaux gate.

Another Bordeaux gate.

Electric cars everywhere!

Electric cars everywhere!

The following morning our bikes were delivered to the hotel and our luggage picked up for the 50km journey to Cadillac (for us, 62km due to wrong turns!). We settled in on these touring bikes with Bosch electric motors in the crank housing, powered by a Lithium battery behind the saddle. This is the answer to the up and down terrain of the Bordeaux region – it doesn’t allow you to free wheel, but assists you when you go uphill. (4 settings: Eco, Tour, Sport and Turbo)

Annie and her bike in front of the hotel.

Annie and her bike in front of the hotel.

A stop along the river path.

A stop along the river path.

Annie unfortunately, picked up a puncture in the front tyre, which we repaired. The next puncture on the rear tyre, happened downhill at 45km/h, which managed to cause multiple leaks in the tube. After 6 patches, I gave up and replaced the tube. Fortunately, the bike company provided a range of tools and spares!

Puncture no. 2.

Puncture no. 2.

We arrived in Cadillac which is a beautiful town at 4:30pm. After a shower we explored the town and had a dinner of duck, salads and frites, washed down with a bottle of local wine. Then, early to bed.

Cadillac town.

Cadillac town.

Cadillac street.

Cadillac street.

The next day, we set off to St Emilion over much hillier terrain, giving the Bosch systems a good workout. Again what was supposed to be a 54km journey, stretched to 68km because the route directions included in our pack, was in English for the first day, with the following 3 days in French! Annie gallantly navigated using her patchy school French, with me trying the new English-French app on my phone. I was hoping Google and GPS will get us there, while softly humming the Bonnie Tyler song of 1977.

On the road to St Emilion.

On the road to St Emilion.

Chateaux along the way.

Chateaux along the way.

Getting quite hilly!

Getting quite hilly!

The landscape is really beautiful with old Chateaux and rustic buildings dotting the landscape. It is also grape harvest time and we looked in amazement at the mechanised harvesting. We arrived in St Emilion at 5pm, with an aching bum in my case – Annie being ever chipper. Our route included dinners and breakfasts at the 3 star hotels we stayed at, and the food was exceptional. The French know how to prepare fantastic 3-course meals in small portions. How they stay so slim, we can’t figure out!

Riding into St Emilion late afternoon.

Riding into St Emilion.

The town from our hotel.

The town from our hotel.

Street scene.

Street scene.

After a walk around St Emilion the following morning, we headed off to Blaye for the 64km trip, which we did in 73km! At this point my derriere was really aching, but the historic hotel in the Citadelle, (Fortification guarding the Garonne river entrance to Bordeaux) plus a fantastic dinner washed down with a Bordeaux sauvblanc, eased the pain.

Looking for Panadol and anti-inflammatories in my saddle bag.

Searching for Panadol and anti-inflammatories in my saddle bag.

Entrance to the Citadelle.

Entrance to the Citadelle.

View from outside the hotel across the

View from outside the hotel across the Garonne river.

View from the dining room at sunset.

View from the dining room at sunset.

A ferry took us across the river to Lamarque the next morning, to cycle the last 62km back to Bordeaux. After 15km, we crossed a railway line and I spotted a railway station next to the road crossing. After feigning an impending heart attack, Annie gave me money to catch the train back to the city, while she set off doggedly to complete the trip – clocking up 82km!

Ferry approaching the Camargue shore of the river.

Ferry approaching the Lamarque shore of the river.

Vines pruned so that all the fruit hangs at the bottom for mechanical harvesting.

Vines pruned so that all the fruit hangs at the bottom for mechanical harvesting.

After a pleasant train trip, I arrived at our hotel at 2:30pm, the same time as our luggage and after a shower and two calming Cognacs, had a relaxing recovery on the bed.

There are so many beautiful photos of this area in our photo collection – if there was more time and internet bandwidth, we would have uploaded them all.