Finding My Happy 2019 European Motorcycle Tour: Oh How it Rained and Nantes….

The Wall Fallen From The Sky by Jean Luc Courcoult, Nantes

With hindsight, Campiste La Pindiere is not a site I would tend to book, it is a big commercial campsite, with stactic caravans, motorhome and caravan pitches. It does have excellent facilites though, the showers are very good, it has an indoor swimming pool and excellent laundry facilities and as such it is set up for large groups and families.

This particular night there was a group of 20+ years old on site, who fuelled with alcohol from the bar, were intent on having a good time and there is nothing wrong with that. Holidays are holidays and people have the right to let their hair, but by 01:30am the loud music, constant shouting and arguing began to become annoying. I was super tired and desperate to get some sleep but it was not to be. There would only two be times on this trip when I would feel uncomfortable being on my own and this would be one of them. The shouting continued and with no hope of sleep I decided to make myself a cup of coffee just in front of the tent. That was the first time I noticed the young lad walking around my pitch, which he conituned to do for the next hour and a half, every now and then stopping to look at me. For some reason this really spooked me and I couldn’t settlle back down to sleep so stayed, sat at the tent entrance, just watching him back. About 03:00 he finally moved off to somewhere else in the campsite, the noise quietened down and I lay back in the sleeping bag, penknife by my side (which would have been useless unless he came at me with a letter and then I could have opened it for him) and eventually drifted off to sleep.

Sarah trying to hide from the rain

Saturday 17th August was a complete washout, it rained from the moment I got up to the moment I went to bed. There is really not much to write about, there is very little to entertain yourself with when basically confined to a tent all day. I used this unexpected downtime to do my first lot of laundry, re-plan how I pack my kit out, catch up on some much needed sleep and stream a couple of films on Amazon Prime.

In the evening I ate at the restaurant again and spent sometime chatting to Annie, whose english was so much better than my woeful french that she actually asked me not to try to speak her language. I guess that’s when you know your french really sucks!

Royale Saucisson for tea, rather good!

It was an enjoyable evening, I was seated opposite Annie’s parents and although communciation was reduced to some kind of weird pantomine mime we were able to have a conversation of sorts. It turns out they like to travel too and had just spent sometime in Scotland. My understanding was (and I could have been totally wrong) that they found it a beautiful place, enjoyed the rain but had a hell of a time with the midges, which is what I assumed the face slapping mime meant. Annie stopped by every now and then to help with the conversation and I learned that she had invested all her life savings into the campsite following a marriage break up and loved what she did. I wonder if she has managed to survive Covid-19, lockdown cannot have been good for her and bookings for this year must be a concern. I hope she does survive, she is a lovely person, with a generous heart who thoroughly enjoys what she does, good luck to her.

With the rain still coming down, I retired to my tent and settled down for the night. The lads from the previous day had left the campsite that afternoon and, feeling more tired than I can remember, I feel asleep.

Annie, owner of Camping La Pindiere

Sunday, 18th August 2019, started off pretty much the same as Saturday, with rain, though not as heavy and, according to Apple weather, there was a promise of sunshine. With that in mind I decided that I would ride the 35 miles into Nantes and have a wander around regardless, the washout yesterday giving me a sense of urgency to be doing something as I had not travelled all this way to stay in a tent. The ride itself was pretty non eventful, except for the massive hailstorm that blasted me for about ten minutes but once I arrived in Nantes the weather had changed, the sun was out and it was warm. I found a place to park by a local market, took a photo of the bike (in case I couldn’t find my way back to it) and set off to explore.

Nantes, a great day out

For those of you who have been to Nantes, you are probably aware of the many great attractions that the city boosts; Machines of the Isle of Nantes, Nantes Cathedral, Musee de l’Imprimerie, Natural History Museum of Nantes, Jules Verne Museum and the Jardin Japonias to name but a few. I am guessing that they are amazing to see and I say guessing because I saw none of them. This would also be a common theme. I am the world’s worst tourist, never bothering to read up beforehand the places of interest to visit so ensuring I get the maximum out of each trip. Still it gives me a reason to go back.

I liked Nantes (the bit I did see), it is a big bustling city that even in the not so touristy bit I went too has plenty to see. It has a rich supply of buildings , abundant cafes and restuarants and I thoroughly enjoyed my walk around.

The streets of Nantes

Nantes Cathedral, also known as Cathedral of St Peter and St. Paul of Nantes is impressive. It was started in 1434 and took 457 years years to build ( a bit like an extension I had done once, probably used the same firm) and is in the Gothic architectural traditional. Listed in 1862 as a historic monument it is open daily to the public and is free to enter and I wish I had taken the time to look inside. If you check out the Cathedral on the internet it would suggest it is well worth a visit.

Nantes Cathedral, I did find this one!
A side view of the Cathedral

When I first sat down to lunch at the Monument aux Cinquante Otages I had no idea of its historical significance. Situated in the Place du Pont Morand it abuts the river with walks available on either bank, one of which leads you to the Jardin Ile de Versailles, one of the highlights of Nantes I missed. It was a beautiful spot to just sit and eat my lunch and by now the sun was very warm and I was having a great time.

The Monument aux Cinquante Otages

In the October of 1941 a german military engineer, by the name of Karl Hotz, was killed by the resistance and, in reprisal, the Germans rounded up and executed 48 prisoners and the monument, (The Monument to 50 Hostages in english) commemorates this event. Why the 50 when 48 were executed I do not know.

There are little restaurants and cafes down every street.

I spent the best part of four hours just wandering the streets of Nantes, it felt very much like my adventure had begin. I loved the narrow streets, cobbled roads, the hustle and bustle, the trams, the little cafes and shops tucked down every street. It is definitley a place I will go back to and explore fully this time ensuring I am well prepared beforehand . Eventually I headed back to the bike and rode the short distance back to the campsite. The evening was spent organising myself in readiness to depart the campsite in the morning and I was excited at the thought of moving on again, getting ever closer to the Pyrennes. I turned in that night feeling really good about everything and confident of a good nights sleep. Well, we all know how that tends to work out!

A sunny campsite!

Love and hugs

Els x

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