Saint Vincent de Pertignas, France:   It started last night:  I couldn’t decide where I wanted to cycle today.   A night’s sleep didn’t provide any clarity.  This morning, over yet another  baguette with cheese and ham, I felt bored with the routines which have developed over nearly three weeks of cycling.

I started cycling this morning not knowing where I was going, or even where I wanted to go.   It took me just a few minutes to get out of Langon, and once confronted with a choice of country roads, I followed my curiosity and my nose to a chateau associated with Toulouse Lautrec.  I meandered, aimlessly cycling across the rolling hills of the Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux, which is nestled between the Garonne and the Dordogne rivers.  I zig-zagged past more vineyards and past a solitary windmill perched on a bluff, still undecided.

After a couple of hours in this directionless funk I spotted a sign pointing to a town which I had considered spending the night.  So again I changed course, heading down another series of country roads, through small but uninteresting towns.   After meandering over 60 km, eventually I made it to the petite village of Saint-Vincent-de-Portignas which has an under-rated chateau restaurant-hotel.  Finally, by default, I had a decision.

The Chateau Isabeau de Naujan dates from the late 13th century.  It’s technically not a chateau but a fortified manor that was renovated in the 15th century and a few times since.  I arrived at 12:45pm and I was the only guest around.    Madame, whom I had to hunt down on the property, informed me check-in time is 3pm.  After a  brief stand-off she agreed to let me check in early but insisted the kitchen is ferme.  I would have to cycle to the nearby town of Rauzan for lunch.

So off to Rauzan I went for a superb three course lunch at the only restaurant in town.   I also decided that to break the routine of cycling I need to break some rules.  So I had a demi-carafe of wine as I leisurely savored the creative dishes of the menu du jour.   Finally I feel like I’m in France.

After lunch I cycled to the nearby Roquefort winery only to find out they’re closed on weekdays.  So I returned to the Chateau Isabeau de Naujan and met the guy who handles all the marketing/sales for the winery.  He was conducting a private tasting for an important Asian buyer on the heels of the Bordeaux wine market which took place earlier this week.  He offered me a  glass of sparkling wine and says he visits Hong Kong often as the China market booms.

Tonight I had dinner at the chateau, sampling their delicious top-of-the line red over another three-course meal.  Dinner consisted of a “gateau riviera to both salmons, cool and smoked, in a mousseline lemony sauce” as a starter.  The main was a “parmentier of duck confit, emulsion of marscarpone, in the basil” followed by a cheese plate.   Today’s two meals have been the finest yet on this cycling adventure.   I don’t want to eat like this every day – my waistline can’t take it – but it’s great to enjoy a fine meal or two in Bordeaux for a change of pace.

I have cycled in a northeasterly direction since Lisbon.  Tomorrow that changes as I head due east along the Dordogne river valley.  This is prime cycling territory, with much to see and absorb, so for the next several days I will cycle at a slower speed before again accelerating to Geneva and beyond.

Day 20 (Thursday, June 24):  Langon – Saint Vincent de Pertignas, France

Day 20 distance: 63.71 km

Day 19 ascent:  335 m

Terrain:  rolling hills

Weather:  sunny with clouds

Trip summary:

Distance: 1,529.65 km

Climbing: 9,967 meters

Rest days:  4

Police interactions:  1


About Todd

Around-the-world cycling, one continent at a time
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4 Responses to Meandering

  1. Mark Scheer says:

    I hear they do a dynamite chicken-fried steak with sticky white sauce in the Dordogne. Don’t worry about the waistline, those cycling shorts (whichever way you wear them!) have a stretchy waist. Bon Appetite. Ride on…

  2. After reading today’s blog, I find myself very hungry for some fine food. Happy trails…

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