Cycling Southwest France - Biking the Dordogne
Day 2 - Bergerac to Les Eyzies - 38.5 miles
The morning dawned gloomy. During the night there had been thunderstorms. The long range weather forecast was for rain every day that week, and it was raining while we had breakfast, but by the time we got started the rain had abated to a little drizzle. We walked our bikes through the early morning market that had been set up in front of the Church of Notre Dame. At a newstand on the main street there was a display of magazines, and on the cover of one of them was the bearded portrait of James Clerk Maxwell, one of our heroes. Of course, he's been dead for 138 years, but his equations for electromagnetics live on in the heart of every physicist and engineer. About time that he got his own magazine cover.
We said goodbye to Cyrano as we walked through the old town down to the Dordogne River. We biked across a large bridge to the south bank of the river and took a rural road eastwards through farm country. The scenery was rural, as we passed cows, bulls, dogs, and donkeys. We saw tobacco hanging to be cured. There didn't seem to be any more vineyards in this region of the country. They had given way to conventional farms.
Our road rejoined the river and at a small town we turned to an uphill climb. We biked along a ridge above the river, our road deserted and covered with a canopy of trees. The sun had come out and the fleecy white clouds were back. The road glistened with the remnants of the morning rain. This, again, was biking heaven.
Back to the Dordogne
The road climbs to a ridge above the river
Biking heaven on a deserted road
We came down from the ridge across from the town of Lalinde. Although our road continued on the south side of the Dordogne, it was lunch time, and Lalinde looked attractive. We decided to detour across to Lalinde.
Lalinde appears across the river
The bridge across to Lalinde
Across the river at Lalinde we found a patisserie, where we got ham sandwiches on baguettes. One of the great pleasures of biking in France is the wonderful bread. Len asked the waitress at the patisserie if he could take her picture. Alas, she said no.
The patisserie in Lalinde
We proudly displayed our baguettes on the backs of our bikes, in what we thought was French fashion, as we biked around town looking for a supermarket to buy fruit. We failed in that quest, and returned across the bridge, where we stopped alongside the road to enjoy our lunch.
For awhile we biked past more cultivated fields.
Typical scene on the way to Les Eyzies
Soon we reached a critical point in the path, where we would pass through an inverted "U" in the river and leave the Dordogne to follow one of its tributaries, the Vezere. From the Michelin map I also knew that there would be big hills in the vicinity of Tremolat, the town on the other side of the inverted "U". And there were. We climbed up and sped down two big hills, each of which gained 420 feet in elevation.
We climb up hills above the Vezere River
After the hills we coasted down to the riverside town of Le Bugue. Len stopped to buy some fruit, finally, and when he came out of the store, he had a Coke for me. The day was hot, and I was sweaty from the climbs. That Coke tasted great.
Along the Vezere towards Le Bugue
A Coke in Le Bugue
The last seven miles into Les Eyzies were flat, easy biking. As we approached our destination at Les Eyzies, we began to see prehistoric caves dotting the cliffs surrounding us.
Prehistoric caves as we near Les Eyzies
We biked down the main street of Les Eyzies (maybe its only street) looking for our hotel. Above us was a statue of prehistoric man, behind which was the museum of prehistory and more caves.
A statue of prehistoric man stands guard over Les Eyzies
The main street of Les Eyzies
Our hotel, the Les Glycines, was located around a bend at the end of this street. After dumping our panniers and equipment in our rooms we went out to walk in the town. I always have the thought that, since we have bikes, we can bike wherever we want in the evenings. However, it always turns out that we're tired of biking, and want nothing more than to walk for a while.
We decided to walk up the river to one of the prehistoric caves that was open to tourists, called "Grand Roc." It was about a half mile from our hotel. The evening was a beautiful one, and the colors around us were especially appealing. You can see from this picture, but being there was even nicer.
Looking back at Les Eyzies as we walk towards Grand Roc
We approached the cave known as Grand Roc, and climbed steps towards what appeared to be the cave entrance.
The cave Grand Roc
When we got to the top of the steps cut into the stone cliff, there was a locked gate across the cave entrance. So much for Grand Roc. We turned and walked back to our hotel and then into town. Later, we discovered that Grand Roc had actually been open to tourists when we had been there, but that the entrance was up the road a bit from where we had been. Had we been driving and looking for a place to park, we would have found it easily. On foot we gave up too quickly. Oh well.
We had dinner at our hotel on a porch overlooking a garden. I tried semi-successfully to understand how to pronounce the name of the town we were in. The closest I can come is that it is pronounced "Lays A-Z."
Dinner at our hotel in Les Eyzies
At a table next to us we heard people talking in English about biking, and as we left our table stopped to talk to them. It was a father and two sons from North Carolina, on a self-guided tour of the area. We compared notes, and they told us something about Montignac, the town where we were headed the next day.
Proceed to Day 3 of the Dordogne Trip
Back to the Overview Page for the Dordogne Trip