18 Jul Cycling France: Bastille Day in Blaye and Horse Jumping Competition
Day 127 – 129 (July 13 – 15) – We decided to leave the Euro Velo to cycle more inland of France, so we could see a little more of France than pine forests and the coast.
After riding less than 30 miles, we make it to La Gironde, the biggest estuary in Europe, where we take the ferry to Blaye. Once in Blaye, it is easy to find our way up to the citadel, where we want to check at the information center for Internet and campgrounds in the area. To our surprise there is a municipal campsite right inside the citadel, what is even more surprising is that it is the best priced campground yet, under 10 Euros and in the heart of the old city.
After strolling around the citadel for a little bit, we notice a couple of horses and riders in the moat. Once we make it to the other side of the citadel, we find out that there is actually an international horse jumping competition going on right there in the moat. Also, there are all kinds of booths set up for food and wine.
At least every once in a while, we seem to get the timing right for some cool events!
After setting up our camp and eating our home cooked dinner, we head down to the moat again to watch the horse jumping competition. Of course, we also had to give the local wine a try.
By the way, do you remember those good old days when we were kids and mom just gave us a note to buy beer or cigarettes? This still works over here. While people watching, we see a young boy at the wine booth, buying a bottle of Rose. When the lady at the booth asked for the boy’s parents, he just pointed into a crowd of people sitting at some tables several yards away. She pulls the cork, hands the boy the bottle and off he goes, back over to his parents.
We found a nice spot on top of the moat to watch the horse jumping competition, while indulging in a bottle of wine…or two. Some local folks chat with us and explain the rules and logistics of jumping horses to us. After the winner of the competition was announced, we also got to enjoy a short horse riding show.
The next day, we decided to stay for another night…apparently we liked the wine a little too much the night before and were in no mood to ride our bikes today. Besides, today is also “Bastille Day” (the national holiday), so we thought, what better place to celebrate than right here in a citadel. We wandered around the carnival in town and snacked on good food and ice cream and once nighttime came around, we enjoyed the fireworks from our front row seats at the campsite inside the citadel.