After a day recuperating in the Marais Poitevin with Mike, today we were on the road again heading for the Pyrenees. Our target was a little walled town called Navarrenx towards the western end of the mountain chain. We set off at about 9:00 AM after a simple breakfast of bread and jam with the all-important coffee at our great value B&B in Arçais.
Satnavs really can be spectacularly stupid. Leaving Arçais, ours decided to ignore a perfectly sensible tarmac road and send us down what I can only describe as a farm track with grass growing down the middle, which eventually turned into an unsurfaced rough stone track. The speed limit may technically have been 90kmh/56mph, which may have saved a second or two over the sensible route, but much more than 20kmh was out of the question. Nonetheless, we eventually made it to the autoroute and began heading south towards Bordeaux.
With the heavy travel weekend now behind us, we expected today to be considerably easier and so it was, at first. We even sailed through the toll booths north of Bordeaux with very little delay. Then we stopped. The autoroute section forming a ring road around Bordeaux was locked solid. We eventually stuttered our way around and popped out of the south side of Bordeaux about an hour later. A stalled car in one lane wasn’t helping on one section but essentially, this was that most English of problems: too much traffic and too little road. The roads around Bordeaux are broken.
Approaching the Pyrenees, Sally Satnav got confused again but this time through no fault of her own. Her maps are two years out of date and the French have clearly been making some improvements. Poor Sally was trying to have us turn into junctions that no longer existed courtesy of what appeared to be a new dual carriageway. Navigation Officer Francine had to take over with a more modern real map.
After a much harder day than I’d expected, we checked in to our pre-booked Logis hotel in Navarrenx at about 5:30 PM and sat on the local square unwinding with two beers – each, that is.
A local supermarket was open and netted us a bottle of rosé to see us through to meal time, when the hotel’s restaurant produced Francine some excellent scallops and, of course, another bottle of wine.
Maybe now we’d be able to face tomorrow’s crossing of the Pyrenees.