80km Sainte Croix – Villars les Dombes

A far cry from intensive farmingFour sets of eyes on usThe first thing we heard this morningon waking up was the wind on our tent. It was blowing strongly, and in very much the wrong direction for the day ahead! It was so windy, we decided not to bother making breakfast and to just hit the road, hoping for calmer skies ahead. Despite being so windy, the day was sunny and already warm, even at 8am. We stopped at a local shop for a couple chocolate croissants (“pain au chocolat”), some yogurt, cheese and a baguette. Going headlong into the wind, we got hungry quickly and stopped every half hour or 45 minutes for a little snack. Thankfully it was a gorgeous day, as if we`d had to contend with the wind and rain we might have given up rather quickly. The high reached nearly 20 degrees for the day and for the first time in ages we took off all our jackets and fleeces and Andrew even rolled up his long cycling trousers. The strength of the wind was something quite amazing – leaves swirled in the skies all around us, at one point a huge plastic bag blew straight into Friedel`s gears while she was cycling and nearly knocked her over, and several times we just went sideways with a gust. When we weren`t being blown backwards, we did enjoy seeing some Brest free-range chicken farms alongside the road as well as a continuing series of cow pastures. Cycling tourists must not be all that common here as the cows – which hardly take notice of passing cars or pedestrians – all stop grazing and stare at us en masse as we pass. By 1:30pm we`d reached Bresse en Bourg and took a break there, waiting for the tourist bureau to return from the multi-hour French lunch break. They advised us that there were a few camping grounds open year round, although largely to the east of us in the mountains. One was in our intended path, so we headed about 25km further south, still with the wind in our face. The afternoon was exhausting, not only physically but mentally, as we were on quite a busy yet narrow road and had to contend with several large trucks whizzing by. Most were quite considerate, and gave us as much room as they could, but it wasn`t always possible with the narrow road. We did eventually turn off onto a more minor route, but the wind seemed to get even stronger, if that was possible, and the last few kilometers were quite a struggle. We got to our campground about 5pm, with just a half hour of light left to put up the tent and cook. Hurrah for the French, who not only make great wine, but also have a fantastic selection of canned meals, which meant we were enjoying lentils and sausages in record time. Along with a bottle of Beaujolais wine and a local blue cheese, we were tired but with happy tummies.