In the two weeks or so since leaving the La Rochelle area we have been intent on some serious chilling, before our brief return to the UK on 8th August. Our joint aims were to continue to enjoy the fantastic weather we’ve had over the last month, and to find some quiet anchorages. The first bit was easy; even on the days which dawned cloudy, or the rare occasions when it rained, we were usually treated to a re-emergence of the hot sun blazing down from a clear blue sky. The second part proved a bit more elusive – we’ve come to the conclusion that there are no quiet anchorages in this part of France. The area is so flat, and the water is very shallow that most suitable places were usually crowded with moorings and/or other anchored boats. Either that or you ended up anchored about half a mile offshore!
So we’ve filled our time cycling on Noirmoutier, finalising travel arrangements in Pornic, and taking a trip up the Loire to St. Nazaire.
Noirmoutier is another island from the same mould as Re and Oleron; flat, pleasant, warm, sunny and typically aimed at the tourist. It’s another great area for cycling; the countryside is typically marshland (with the accompanying wildlife), salt pans and wonderful beaches. Also good fun in the harbour watching the desperate attempts to moor boats when the wind wasn’t being helpful!
Pornic is a resort, with not much else outside of Bluebeard’s Castle to recommend it, but has a good marina where will leave Vela for the week; and it’s an hour by train to Nantes, which has fights to Southampton.
St. Nazaire is not a place geared for yachtsmen! When we turned up, there was much head-scratching, and stereotypical shoulder-shrugging about what they should charge us; eventually we were waived through as it proved beyond them. I’m sure if we’d been a 200m tanker it would have been no problem. It’s another place which housed German u-boats during the war, and consequently was bombed to smithereens by the allies. The re-development has been a partial success; some parts are really nicely done, others are a bit more utilitarian. The submarine pens are a work of art(!). The fact that they still stand intact (in spite of all the bombing) is sheer testament to the superb engineering. They are used to house all sorts of exhibitions, and events; and the rooftop has been developed into a public viewing area, affording the best views of the surrounding area – including the Loire suspension bridge – we each shed a nostalgic tear as we recalled memories from 30 years back, slogging up and over it by bike!
So it’s back to Blighty tomorrow, for the wedding of the year, then back on Tuesday. Let’s hope the sun shines for all!