We're cycling the La Vélo Francette long-distance bike route from La Rochelle to Caen. Here's today's stage from Niort to Parthenay.
Day three of riding was a 58km stretch plus a 3km add-on to our supremely original B&B just north of Parthenay.
This section isn't yet signposted (May 7, 2015) for the Velo Francette but should be by June 2015. Today these signs (representing the existing V43 national route) were our best friends.
Save for a short section actually getting out of Niort, it was almost impossible to get lost.
This is what the signage will eventually look like.
Here's a wrap of what we got up to today.
Niort to Champdeniers-Saint-Denis, 27.86km
We stayed with Christine at Maison La Port Rouge, an elegantly furnished B&B – here's a flavour:
We feasted at breakfast on cereals, toasts, jams, meats and cheese. Like this:
And got sent on our way with bananas for our panniers and water supplied fresh for our bidons by our lovely host.
This section of the official website is currently labelled for families, though there are some tricky climbs into villages which I doubt my 7-year-old would comfortably manage (nor I pulling a trailer). It was definitely more strenuous than the previous two days from La Rochelle.
The route itself was almost all backroads, except for a few stretches of dirt road or towpath. However most of the dirt paths were so well kept they were smoother than the smaller tarmac roads.
Champdeniers-Saint-Denis to Parthenay, 30.33km
We had lunch at the local restaurant in Champdeniers-Saint-Denis – three courses for €12.50; we thought it was time to cut back on desserts so we shared a tarte aux pommes.
This section of La Velo Francette is labelled intermediate, which is a fair assesment given there are more than half a dozen longish climbs of various length and difficulty. Make no mistake, this is not the Pyrenees but we did climb just over 530m over the course of the day, which may come as a bit of a shock after the flat tranquility of the Marais.
Even so, there were more tractors than cars, the roads were relatively peaceful (save for one or two small stretches of busier D-road) and the greatest danger was posed by farm animals and farm trucks.
After a detour through the lovely local park (which the official route crosses), a small misadventure after a local tabac owner tried sending us to a B&B via the busy rocade (ringroad), and a final climb to the centre of Parthenay (save some energy), we arrived at Villa Ayrault B&B, which is a real/surreal step back in time (more on that tomorrow).