It was raining as predicted this morning when we woke up. Today’s forecast is for rain throughout the day so our plan of riding along the coast to La Rochelle, has been shelved. Instead we’ll take the shortest route and hopefully arrive dry. My first job this morning was to find fuel. In the cities and towns many of the petrol stations in France have converted to 24 hour cashless petrol stations. It really is annoying and we’ve been caught out a few times. Sometimes it takes a bit of planning to find one that takes cash and it certainly increases the stress levels. Luckily I found one about 1 kilometre away which turned into 2 kilometres due to one way streets.
Once the bike was fuelled, the pressure was off so after a stop at the Boulangerie for a baguette it was time for breakfast.
The route out of Nantes took us past the Machine Exhibition and out through some of the old docklands area. Much of the old industrial area has been demolished and modern four storey apartment buildings built in their place. It’s quite a nice transformation. In some areas the old concrete buildings are still being demolished and it will be nice to see the area when it’s all finished.
Chapelle De Bethleem
Along the way we detoured to the little Chapelle De Bethleem at Saint-Jean-de-Boiseau . The chapel was built in late Middle Ages gothic style and like many others in the countryside probably wouldn’t rate a second glance.
However, the gargoyles of Chapelle de Bethléem was the reason the tiny chapel is mentioned in Atlas Obscura. The story goes that in the 1990’s the tiny chapel needed re-roofing. The weather had taken its toll and the building was almost a ruin.
Sculptor Jean-Louis Boisel was assigned to replace the 28 gargoyles which were missing. Instead of carving traditional gargoyles he also made figures from popular culture.
On the corners of the roof are the figures of Gizmo and the Gremlin, Goldorak from Nanga cartoons and the Alien creature. The locals weren’t happy when it was built but it got the approval of young people who named it the “Geek Church”.
Heading on from the chapel the weather was a little cold and overcast. A little rain soon followed so it was a case of head down and get to La Rochelle. The rain dogged us the whole way but by the time we reached La Rochelle it had eased.
We’d arrived a little late however, the owner saw the bike and returned home. He let us into the apartment which was a granny flat in the courtyard. It was a lovely little apartment and a nice welcome gift was included, but our first priority was to get out of the bike gear which although had dried out still had that soggy feeling.
The apartment was out at the port area of La Pallice, which at this time of year was d-e-a-d.
Taking a walk around La Pallice we discovered that the area which is full of holiday apartments was empty of people. Finding somewhere to eat was also proving to be difficult as there were no takeaways and only a few places open. Eventually we found a little smokey locals bar with four locals all sitting at the bar drinking pastis. I asked the owner if she was serving food and she replied “of course”. It was a nice experience fumbling over French words to translate and the meal really hit the spot. Around the bar old album covers decorated the walls and we picked out albums we had owned. Surprisingly there was even a Rose Tattoo album cover.
Arriving back at the apartment we were met by the owners who invited us in for a drink. We were treated with a traditional drink of the region, Pineau des Charentes. It was quite sweet and is traditionally served as an aperitif. Soon the plates of olives, bread sticks, gherkins, cheese, anchovies and smoked oysters were coming out. Very much like the things we eat at home as nibbles. It was quite funny as our hosts didnt speak much english and we didnt speak much french but we had a great time. Maybe it was the Pineau. A few pineau’s were more than enough and we said our goodbyes and headed across the courtyard to the apartment.
We are staying in La Rochelle over the next few days so hopefully the weather will hold off enough for us to explore a bit. Tomorrow the forecast is clear so we are planning to visit Ile De Ré, an island just off the coast. However, after that the forecast is for rain. We are wondering whether we stayed a little too long in the UK and are going to be dogged by foul weather. Time will tell.