Friday, 23 October 2015

Le Tour de France, day 4 Cognac region

After spending the night in the Akema hotel in Saumur, Wednesday 12 August was to be the hottest and most humid day of the trip. We had a good breakfast in the hotel and set off again for an interesting day going the furthest south during this trip. We passed by an medieval walled town Saint Jean de Thouers with a chateau overlooking it.
We travelled through much countryside and reached Ponthaney, a reasonable size town where we stopped for coffee. I went to a pavement cafe overlooking a square with Steve Barnado and Tim Kingcott. We also explored a memorial park. Our journey continued by the Thouet river and we stopped to have a cuppa tea on the bus in the middle of the countryside near to a village Beauvoir sur Niort.
We arrived in the town Cognac. The drink we call 'brandy' is also known as 'cognac' in French after the name of this town where brandy is distilled from grapes grown in this region. As we arrived we saw some of the famous names like 'Hennessey'
We were allowed about three hours in the town to explore, we had a beer in a cafe/bar in the main square, after having to shelter from a very heavy rain shower. Later I had a kebab dinner.
When we were all back on the bus we travelled the relative short distance to a small village Jarnac-le-Champagne, where the Church dominates the village. Our accommodation was the family run Le relais de Jarnac-Champagne. The local boulangerie is also run by the same family. When we arrived in the village it appeared everyone knew we were coming as we received a very warm welcome. Everyone had a camera or camera-phone and were taking photos of the bus. Although not normally open late evening the family opened the baker and general store and we were able to buy some drinks and light snacks.
As it was so warm we sat outside for as long as possible. The village church bell rang every hour until 11pm. The night started hot and sultry but at times when I was woken the wind had picked up and more heavy rain fell.