Tuesday, July 25, 2017

La Rochelle to Lake Geneva
Photo Paul Draycott
You probably know by now how much I love reading memoirs, especially travel memoirs set in France, and also how much I enjoy cycling adventures in France, so it will come as no surprise to read how excited I am about this story I’m about to tell you.

In 2015 a man named Paul who lives in Leicester was involved in a serious car accident that left him needing an emergency airlift to hospital for amongst other injuries, a badly broken leg. While Paul was recuperating he did a bit of reading and one of the books he read, which also happens to be one of my favourite travel memoirs, had a big impact on him. Susie Kelly’s Best Foot Forward, her funny account of her solo walk from La Rochelle to Geneva, inspired him to plan his own adventure across France, once he had recovered fully.

Thanks to the wonderful world of social media I met Paul online right at the beginning of the planning stage of this adventure, an 11-day bike ride from La Rochelle to Lake Geneva. My first thought was “oh, wow, I’d love to do that”. La Rochelle, on the Atlantic coast of France is one of my favourite places for a day trip and if you head east from there you will eventually end up on the other side of France, in Geneva. Paul has always enjoyed cycling, although never undertaken a challenge like this, but he is not travelling alone. The other half of his team is wife Diana, whose experience on a bike is pretty much limited to what she has done in their training. I hope you are as impressed by this as I am, although you might be thinking, wow, but why? They are so grateful to the help Paul received from Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance, they are doing this (in place of a summer holiday) to raise money for them. Each air rescue costs around £1,700 and that is their fundraising goal. Here is the link to their JustGiving Page, if you would like to help them on their way.

Yesterday, their second day in the saddle and almost 100 miles into their 550-mile journey, took them to a pretty little B&B just outside the Charente village of Verteuil-sur-Charente, only about half an hour from my home. It was too good an opportunity to miss meeting up, so with each of us armed with good (homemade) filling food, local author Susie Kelly, her husband Terry and I provided a little welcome committee for them. It was a lovely evening of fun conversation and I really am rather jealous of their get up and go. They may have been inspired by Susie and her book, but they were both a great inspiration to me.

I know how tired and hungry I am after a day on the bike so I was impressed at how fresh they looked and how sociable they were. Thanks for taking the time out of your recovery hours to sit and chat; bonne courage mes amis and may your route to Geneva be fast and flat!
Photo Paul Draycott
You can follow their progress on their Facebook page here and if you happen to see them as they make their way across France, do give them a wave and say hello from me.

My contribution to our dinner picnic was my courgette quiche, you can find the recipe here Susie, made without the lardons for a vegetarian option.

One day I will be planning my own La Rochelle to Geneva adventure,  it's a promise and you heard it here first.

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