We had two options to exit Nantes.

After we retrace the 6 kms ride back into the city. We’d been here before after indecision and adding some 5 extra kms to the exit strategy when leaving Angers! And learnt the lesson.

As we rode into its heart, we watched city life come alive. The smell of fresh bread from the Boulangerie and roasting rotisserie chooks from cabinets on shop front pavements were terrible. Terribly divine that is.

Council workers were blowing fallen foilage onto the roadway and we had to swing out and around the sweeper truck sucking up the carnage. City folk were scurrying where ever they were needing to be, others were seated supping on their morning expresso and munching a croissant. A menu item that is a happy marriage.

We pulled up outside of the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Nantes Cathedral. It was a monster towering up and made BClaire look antish as she posed out front. We were too early to take a look inside and agreed that this was perhaps the second largest one we observed, second to Ulm’s monstrosity. We carried on through streets following our mate google maps.

A water fountain caught our eye. It has survived the war and billboards in a semi-circle telling the story of Nantes’s destruction from bombing with pictures told a 1,000 words. None of which we could read, they were in French!

“Let’s do the north side at the junction and cross over further down the Loire” was suggested. All those in favour say “Aye.” Carried. But not before crossing a bridge and by accident, came across hordes of bystanders congealed standing looking up at this mechanical elephant. It had our attention. How it walked, blinked, raised it’s trunk and blew out water for it’s snooze – it was absolutely amazing. It was part of the Machines of the Island features.

Here we met a couple from Canada cycling on a tandem, Doug and Lois. They wore their Canadian maple leaf tops with pride and a flag flapped hanging of the back. They too were heading in our direction and were taking the south side so us meeting up with them again was highly likely, the race was on!

The north side had us ride under a skyway bridge and this was a Holy F..k view from the bike seat. It too was massive and the traffic crisscrossing in either direction was manic. Sadly, we past another area of poverty where people were living in caravans and shacks with squalor. Surely there can still be some pride in keeping your environment surrounding much better than crap strewn where you threw it? Hmmmm.

We happened upon a ferry crossing to get to the other side where we needed to be. A little closer then the bridge we needed to ensure we took further along and though stuff, lets cross not so walked up onto the car/passenger ferry. Was free too, bonus. However, for some reason, the damn mosquitos were the worst they’ve been the whole trip and having to walk up an incline on gravel meant the little bastards swooped in, landed and left love bites by the dozen. It felt like this being our last day, everything that we’d experienced was playing out along the route.

And the bridge that we thought we were to cross, didn’t exist. It was another ferry crossing that wasn’t going anywhere because of the low tide and the side of the river were muddy embankments. That was lucky!

And our last ten kms ride was along the Loire on gravel into a strong coastal head wind. The river had opened up and questioned “when does the river become the bay of the sea?” The bridge that crosses over from Saint-Brevin-le-Pins to Saint Nazaire was another awe of construction that grew and grew and cripes, it was unbelievable. Little walkways out into the water to shacks with fishing nets chaperoned us as we kept heads down and pushed into the breeze.
Heads lifted as we reached the city boundary of Saint-Brevin and keeping an eye out for the EV6 signs came to an end when we reached a larger sign that was the start of the ride heading east, or the end of the ride heading west. We posed for photo’s asking a passer by to press the camera button.

Another 100-150 metres or so of riding west, there was no more west to ride. Swinging south to ride along the waves crashing into the sea wall, every now and then, one was large enough to have the sea spray on our faces. Perhaps that was why our eyes welled up. Just a little bit.

A spot we stood and stared outwards. And where sadness (it was over) and happiness (we’d done it) collided.

From Budapest to the Atlantic Ocean completed.

Kms ridden = 2,918

Number of punctures = 1

Days taken = 72 days

Number of blog words – 47, 281

Number of photos = a shit load!

This is the final blog post narrated how it has been.

It’s been a blast to write a daily journal as a record of what has been. Something to be looked back on and have all the emotions regenerated on reflection.

Dream it, design it, do it, and feel good – no more words necessary to be added.