St Julien en Born to Arcachon, via Europe’s largest sand dune

We washed most of our clothes on Monday evening so Tuesday morning was a slow start while we waited for them to finish drying. We left at about 9:30 and had little trouble finding our way back onto Eurovelo 1. The weather was again warm and sunny.

Just a few miles into the ride we met a British couple. They were cycling south to San Sebastien on heavily-loaded touring bikes and wild camping, hence the large volume of provisions.

Once again we were riding along perfectly smooth, quiet cycleways no sign of traffic, except as we passed through small towns.

It was remarkable how few opportunities for refreshments there were. Some were open in the towns close to the cycleways but many were not. Early May is clearly out-of-season in this part of the world.

This is one significant disadvantage of following Eurovelo 1, the other being boredom – the scenery is great for a while but it’s just mile after mile of pine forest. We did have a bright green gecko cross our paths at one point, but that was the high point of the wildlife experience too.

We started to alternate between the signposted Eurovelo 1 route and using Komoot. One advantage of the Komoot app is that it’s easy to zoom out and look at the map on a smartphone screen, rather than have to squint at it on an impossibly small Garmin screen. Personally, I can see no reason for Garmin to existing now that Komoot is available. Garmin is over-complicated in every way and I’ve developed an aversion to going anywhere near them over the years. When you consider that Komoot gives you global maps too, and all for a £29 on-off lifetime payment, Garmin hasn’t got a leg to stand on. Yes, there is potentially an argument about battery life in smartphones, but I don’t find any problem for most rides and carrying a small back-up battery is not a problem for longer days in the saddle.

Towards the tail end of the ride, we were running parallel to Europe’s largest sand dune. This is what Wikipedia has to say about the Dune du Pilat:

The dune has a volume of about 60,000,000 m³, measuring around 500 m wide from east to west and 2.7 km in length from north to south.[2] Its height is currently 110 meters above sea level.

Andy failing to demonstrate the sheer scale of this dune, despite having enjoyed a lot of French bread

We saw a few other cyclists and walkers during the day and took the odd detour to look at the sea but for the most part we intent on reaching Arcachon, one possible destination for the evening, and perhaps even crossing over to Bélisair on Cap Ferret by ferry. As it was, when we arrived in Arcachon we were told (incorrectly) that the last ferry had departed for the evening so we walked into the first half-decent hotel we stumbled upon and booked a room for the night. It was a bit above our budget but we were tired and it was the easy option. The adjacent restaurant provided good, fishy sustenance.

We’d covered another 69 miles into the northerly wind but with otherwise good weather.

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