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Day 11, Arriving at Arcachon

I had some visitors in the night. The mossie came back, I now have two bites on my leg to remind me.

This morning there were two gigantic spiders sharing the room. I'm not the bravest when it comes to spiders and these were not Dorset size. I can imagine one of the them on the menu in an Asian roadside stall and it would be a meal for two, like a chateaubriand with legs. I really don't like bugs, so this experience confirms I'll be staying in towns from now on, don't want to be anywhere near nature.

It was cold setting off, very autumnal feeling now so need my winter top, plus the hi viz might help in the misty morning.

Stopped at the local boulangerie for breakfast. That was seriously good. Even made me a café au lait.

I hit the road. They are long and straight, very long and very straight. Just more and more pine trees. This part of France feels like big country. I can see why some people may want to listen to music doing this, I'm running out of things to think about. What's round the next bend isn't relevant.

I then come across something really bizarre. Normally roadkill is squirrel size. But I see ahead a cow sized animal, but it isn't a cow. It's got very dark brown fur, not like a cow's hide, this looks very wild and massive. But what is really weird is right next to it is a massive road sign saying "Veterinaire". Sure enough about 50m further on is some animal hospital. It looks like this beast knew it wasn't in good shape and where it needed to go to get help. Presumably reaching the sign got it so excited it suffered a cardiac arrest and dropped dead. It must prove that large wild animals around hear can read French. That's pretty impressive.

I'm warmed up by 10am, stop in a café in one of the villages I pass through and strip off. Could spend all day sat in the sun, but there's peddling to be done.

I'd noticed on the map I could pass by a number of ports, so as a diversion made a few detours, expecting to check out some leisure boats. Instead all of these places were for oyster production. All along this west coast of France it's like oysters everywhere. Oyster fishing boats in ports. Often the only restaurants I've seen open are only offering dishes of oysters. I've even see dispensing machines so you can buy oysters in the middle of the night. Why does someone want to eat snot? I don't get it.

I'm now 40km in and have made good progress, so I switch to a cycle track I come across. Its got a velodyssee sign so I know its going in the right direction. In fact it becomes clear it was a disused railway line, as there still remain some of the derelict station buildings and platforms. This is just as straight and long as the road, but without any cars. The surface is immaculate, I think a lot of these cycle tracks are recently constructed.

I'm 60km in and past 12pm, so I'm seriously looking for my 3 course menu du jour, but there isn't a place open, they're all shut.

Last resort it has to be another boulangerie for lunch. They are very good though.

I get to the hotel way before check-in is available, so decide to carry on cycling and meander around the city. Arcachon is next to a seawater lagoon, the French call it a bassin. It's almost too big to see the edges. There's lots of fishing and leisure boat stuff going on in the season. There's a very large marina and I passed by the visitors pontoon next to the capitanairie. When we sailed here we arrived late in the evening and berthed on the pontoon. It was surrounded by a locked fence and still was now. Good thing we didn't need to get ashore, we'd have still been waiting. The city centre is very upmarket, finally with restaurants open, very grand with hundreds of tables and prices to go with it. It's now very hot, like I'm burning, but its a new experience for a while. I decide to splash out in one of the cafes so I can sit down on something that isn't a saddle. A small beer - I know, that's my second now of the trip, so drunk again, and a banana split. I saw a woman having some outrageous ice cream sundae extravaganza and thought, she hasn't even got off her arse to justify that. I had to have one. There followed a slow cycle back to the hotel.

The Spanish border is now not far away. I think my arrival will coincide with some bad weather coming through. The north Spanish coast route is worrying me due to the inclement weather reputation, the challenging, much more hilly terrain and my complete lack of Spanish. I'm now spending a lot more time in the evenings looking at maps.

As its warmed up, at least in the afternoons, I'm trying out the clothes washing strategy for the first time. Go in the shower with my cycling kit, give it a good stamp about and rinse and hang it up. I'm hoping the atmosphere will be warm and dry enough overnight for the kit to be dry to put on. Otherwise I'm in trouble. It doesn't seem to be drying as rapidly as I'd hoped so there's a lot of waving the hotel hair dryer at my underpants for minutes to try and speed up the process.

distance today 96km

Total so far 1018km


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