I had another great day. Weather continues to hold as a mild fall. I followed back roads most of the day, mixed in with a cycle path, and a foot path. Every site I visited today I’d visit again. I took enough pictures I ran my main camera out of power (I miss being able to buy lithium batteries).
Marnie helped research possible sites for the day. The three different sites on my agenda today had a number of similarities. All have fallen into ruin. All undergo slow restoration, restoring them to a pre-16th century state. The same abbot owns two of them. All are open to tourism, but that’s about all the effort they have put into managing tourists. In other words, the type of sites I enjoy.
The Abbaye Lucern d’Outremer fell to complete ruin, and now undergoes restoration, with the final intent of restoring the site as a functioning monastery. They have carefully restored the cathedral; they display outside a full-scale example of how they restored the cathedral arches.
40 km from the abbey I arrived at the Chateau de Gratot, a manor house surrounded by an exterior wall and moat. The manor house traded hands many times over the centuries before falling to ruin. A farmer with a love of restoration purchased it, and he and his descendants slowly restore it.
I left Gratot around 3:30 pm, and worried that I might arrive at the next site, the Chateau Fort de Pirou, as it closed at 5:00 pm. If so, and the sitel ooked interesting, I could just camp nearby. Arriving at 4:45 pm, I learned the site didn’t close until 6:30 pm, leaving me plenty to time to not feel rushed. Pirou, another manor, started its life more as a fortification than the other two, with five separate gates to pass before entering the inner courtyard.
At that point I had not picked a final destination for the day. My more consistent speed means I can better predict my cycling time. Reviewing the map, I selected a campground 19 km away, in-line with Cherbourg, to arrive around 6:30 pm. Moving away from the coast meant no other nearby campgrounds, but time remaining to ride back to the coast, or closer to Cherbourg. Not only was the four-star campground open, the change in the season dropped prices down to less than 8 euro. I suspect one reason campgrounds have felt more expensive this trip comes from my usually touring in the spring prior to the main tourist season. The cost decrease helps offset the concern about whether the campground will be open.
I checked my odometer after checking in, and found I’d ridden 90 km today. Cycling to three sites spaced out made for a pleasant day of short rides to each site, with the campground at the end.
As I’ve moved into Brittany and Lower Normandy, I encounter more tourists from England. Correspondingly, more people from France in the tourist business speak English. I wondered today, as I wander through the territory ravaged repeatedly by the wars with England, whether that history plays a part in the reluctance of the French to attempt speaking English. Last week I finally remembered to ask, “Parlez-vous anglais un pur”, asking if they speak a little English, instead of just asking if they speak English (a trick which I learned from my last tour in France). I’ve felt my language interactions more successful, but now am unsure if the change comes simply from moving north.
Tomorrow? Cherbourg. If I can’t get a ferry tomorrow, I can wait in the area visiting sites of interest. I’ve been reluctant to purchase the ticket in advance, both because I prefer to not lock dates in (providing me more freedom to wander and deal with life’s challenges), and because some of the websites do not clearly define taking a bicycle. Now I can just ask in person. I’ve decided while I prefer a ferry to Rosslaire, ending up in Dublin or Cork (presuming the weather holds) work as well.
I’m leery of Cork. In all of my years of touring, Cork pinned me down three days in driving rain, longer than anywhere else. Cork gets a lot of rain. That’s why it’s so green!