27th October 2016

 I was treated to the opening of the market at Bazouges la Pérouse; the first crepe from the creperie van, the first tomatoes from the veg stall, the first café from the bar. They were still setting up as I set off from the village, ready for a good ride after a crepe start.

The Canal de Ille et Rance took me down to Renne. The autumn colours reflected on the still water, almost bare of boats. The water points offered toilettes and even the odd douche – only a dirty cycle tourist could get tempted by the mouldy door to an outdoor public shower.

I was glad to have sped down by the canal first, as the river La Vilaine would have blown it out of the water. Whether it was the more sinuous curves of a natural waterway, the more varied landscape it cut through, or just a beautiful coincidence of nature and intervention that made it irrepressibly breathtaking, I’ll never know. The flat water meadows with picturesque cows, ancient oaks twisting out over the banks, old mills perched in the middle of the water, rocky cliffs rising up high above, golden leaved poplars glowing in the evening sun, and everything twice as stunning with the mirror like reflections in the surface. Every bend offered a new glory to the eye, another wonder to behold, absorb. The autumn colours, flitting electric blue kingfishers and arcing herons added to the glory.

The icing on the cake of a wonderful day was the promise of a Warm Showers host at the end. I arrived, and once washed and sparky, was treated to an excellent dinner of tartiflette – a delicious (and sustaining) local dish of potatoes, cheese and lardon. Lucky I like cheese! We shared our attempts at French and English, and managed to make good conversation, sharing stories of cycling at home and abroad, alone and as a family. Jerome and Delphine had cycled the world with their two children – the photos and tales were inspiring! We also shared our differing skills of music, sad that Jerome had to forego the bagpipes for a tin whistle, to save our eardrums indoors . (The Breton traditions still run strong.)

I was treated to a cat, Princess, keeping my feet warm all night – then I knew I had been accepted!