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Greg Eden’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 20 Sep 2014

MapDay 25 Saint Macaire to St Emillion
We leave a bit earlier this morning (9am) as it is a longer ride (50k) today. It's a bit hilly to start but the roads are quiet as it's Saturday morning. We ride on a variety of roads ranging from very narrow to quite busy and end up on the bike path which is always good to ride on. Again I'm struck by the lack of activity as there hardly seems to be anyone around in the little villages. I'm surprised we hardly see any other cyclists, the odd one or 2 but it doesn't seem that cycling tourism is very big in this area. It's not as easy to get a coffee as most people think as hardy any of the villages have anything that is open. Just as well we grabbed a couple of rolls from breakfast to take  with us. We finally find a boulangerie open in Lavagnac but we are only 10km from St Emillion. We get a sandwich and coke and find a beautiful little park just down the street. We get into St Emillion about 2pm having done 53km. It is getting fairly warm (36C). We help a couple of young Spanish guys pump a flat tyre up just before we get into the town. We get there but can't find our hotel and a nice French lady comes to us and asks if she can help. We eventually get to our hotel and it's not great. It is a very busy weekend as it is the celebration of the start of harvest and all the attractions are free for the weekend. Many tourists in town but many locals also. St Emillion is a wine and craft town. It has spectacular monuments, narrow and very steep paved streets and most buildings are well maintained, much more so than surrounding towns. It is full of restaurants, wine shops and craft shops. We get on an open bus for a one hour tour of the wine area. He drives very quickly as they all seem to here but we get a good look around. We are back for dinner and it is a dilemma selecting a place, there are so many. The wines are quite cheap in the wine shops, many good ones around 5 but in the restaurants it is a very different story, with wine and food being quite expensive here. The restaurants are beautiful though, many with terraces in the open and streets are full of people enjoying relaxed dinner. This place has a really good feel to it. A bit like Hahndorf only much older and about 100 restaurants. At 10 pm there is a procession through the streets of a couple of guys playing some weird instruments followed by a large number of people with white shirts and red vests all with fire sticks. Then at 11 there is a massive fireworks display with fireworks being set off at three  different locations. The first lot from The Kings Tower, a massive high tower built by a king in the 13th century to show his power. We go back to our room about 12. It has no window and no air con. It's a strange little guest house.