14 Jul Taking it easy in France
Day 122 – 126 (8/12 July 2013) – We are enjoying some easy riding along the Euro Velo 1 for several days now. The path takes us mostly through a pine forest along the Atlantic coast, which makes wild camping pretty easy along our way. Also, we have found more reasonable campsites along our path, some that even offer special pricing for bike-tourist. So the initial sticker-shock along the French beaches and tourist areas has worn off…or as Ron puts it: “Viva la France!”
France’s bike path system is getting us spoiled and we are pretty sure, we’ll have a hard time riding at home in the good old USA again after riding here.
The bike paths here form their own “bike-interstate-system”. Sometimes we have a path along roadways; sometimes we have a path all to ourselves through pine forests and fields without being able to even hear a car. It makes for stress-free biking…we can just listen to music or goof off while riding along. Also, when we have to share the road with car traffic, the drivers are very courteous, give us plenty of space, and usually slow down or even stop for us. There really is not much to see along the Euro Velo 1. We see some beach areas and skirt some smaller towns and villages but we mostly ride through some very remote areas.
The highlights along our route so far were the ocean views, swimming in a lake near the coast while celebrating 3000 miles cycled, and climbing up Dune du Pilat.
Dune du Pilat is the biggest Dune in all of Europe, it is about 6 km long and 113 meters high and it moves about 4 meters each year. In previous years, it has swallowed up a hotel and an intersection in the process. Climbing up this big pile of sand was a little bit of a work out. The gradient is very steep and the sand just wants to run away from under our feet, not to mention the sand is hot as heck! However, the view on top is well worth the effort. Once on top we feel like we should be somewhere in the Sahara desert–as far as we can see there is just a huge amount of sand. The difference is, to one side we have the ocean view; to the other side we can see pine forest for miles and miles.
Since the coastal area of France is pretty flat, this dune sticks out like Mt Everest! The funniest thing is trying to run back down the dune. Although it is quite steep and the sand keeps sliding down in front of us like an avalanche, it seems impossible to fall over while running down the enormous pile of sand.
There is definitely more to France than Paris and the Eifel tower!