26/7/10: We left the campsite in Blaye at about 9.30am and stopped off at a bakery for breakfast on the way out of town. Today's route would take us north along the side of the Dordogne river and then follow this along to the coast as it opens out into the sea. The terrain was pretty flat, and the weather has finally changed back to super hot&sunny. We cycled through lots of small villages throughout the morning and stopped for a drink in a bar mid morning. We had lunch in a vineyard full of ants which appeared to be drawn to my cheese a bit too much. We pressed on to arrive at the beach in Royan at about 4pm. Alex realised at this point he had lost his wallet somewhere along the way (probably in the bar we had a drink in.) Luckily it contained only 1 bank card and a small amount of cash. We texted his Dad who very speedily cancelled the card. We went down to the beach for about an hour but didn't go swimming as the water didn't look invitingly clean. We then cycled to tonights' accommodation which was with my old french exchange partner in Saujon. We stopped in a huge supermarket on the way to buy some wine for them. I didn't know what to buy as I'm not much of a wine buff so asked a frenchman next to me in the wine section for advice. He looked knowledgable and sure enough helped select something suitable with great enthusiasm! When we arrived it was not quite as expected, my partners parents were in Spain and had left him and his brother home alone. They were sat around their garden table chain smoking and in the process of organising a house party that evening. Alex and I chatted for a while and then had a shower while they organised things. We were really hungry and they didn't seem like they were going to feed us. I asked about food and was reassured a BBQ was going to happen. About 15 of his friends arrived and we had a great evening by the side of their swimming pool. Alex and I were so hungry we ate some of the seafood salad on the side in the kitchen, we thought it was for the BBQ but turned out to be a bit older than expected! Eventually at about 11.30pm the BBQ was hot enough to cook on so we wolfed some sausages! We went to bed quite late but not very. It was nice to see all of Theo's friends, as I met many of them 4 years ago when I stayed with him on the school French exchange. Total mileage today was 57.83 miles.
27/7/10: We left Theo's house a bit later than planned as my alarm clock didn't go off until 10.30! We both felt a bit dodgy after the seafood we ate in desperation last night, we noticed it was still there when we left! We cycled through Saujon on the way out and bought some food for the day. The roads in this area are dead flat so we made good progress and soon arrived at Pont L'Abbe-the town where all my exchange partners have been to school. We stopped in a bar for a drink and continued to Rochefort. I was keen to go and see the ship they are building there (A replica of an old boat called L' Hermione) but when we arrived it was 8€ each to enter, so we decided to not bother since that is pretty much 1/3 of the daily budget! We had lunch on a bench in the park and I rang a bike shop in La Rochelle to reserve 2 cardboard bike boxes for us to put the bikes in for the flight tomorrow. The man said 'you can have 5 if you want, we've got loads.' We set off again towards La Rochelle. On the way we were overtaken by a man in his 60's dressed in full Cofidis team kit (a large proffessional cycling team). It was very windy so I cheekily cycled in his slipstream. He was obviously flattered by this and told me to move a bit to the right so as to be sheltered from the wind even more. I jokingly asked him if he was a rider for Cofidis, to which he laughed but told me how he used to race many years ago as a young man. He proudly told us how his ageing bike was the same as the one used in the 1995 tour de france. We decided not to comment on the fact it was several sizes to small for him! He was fascinated by our trip and congratulated us on making it so far.
We arrived in La Rochelle at about 6pm and went straight to the bike shop to get the boxes. When we arrived we were told to speak to the workshop around the back. The mechanic told us he had no boxes and he probably wouldn't have any tomorrow. Great! We rang another bike shop&they said they had just 1 box we could have, so we arranged to pick it up tomorrow. So we will have to spend some time searching for a box tomorrow.
We walked along the coast a bit and then headed to a youth hostel. when we arrived it became apparent we would have to join some sort of organisation to stay. The youth hostel wad also quite expensive so we chose to camp in the Camping Municipale instead. We cooked the last big dish of pasta and headed back into town for a wonder. In the evening in La Rochelle there are alot of magicians and street performers along the side of the port. We enjoyed watching a man doing some Diablo tricks and another man juggling fire on a unicycle. We then went to a crepe stall where a boy of about 14 managed to take 4 attempts to make us 2 crepes. We felt sorry for him at first but then when he began to swig large gulps of beer inbetween flippings we began to loose sympathy for his sloppy technique! Total mileage today was 57.00 miles. Tomorrow we fly back to London stanstead, I will update the final chapter when I get home and also put a few photos up of the best bits!