Done. The wedding is officially compl??t and, as much as we have loved the experience and the company, it is time to be off! Our bikes were brought out from the shed, our bags packed and our goodbyes said to the last remaining guests. With a flurry of kisses and handshakes we rode off to their cheers (we amuse and puzzle them, we think) and once again it was Jan and Ian, our bikes and the open road.
With a conveniently small railway station connecting to Paris and an attractive town to explore we had planned only 30 km of riding today back to St. Yrieix, which was a lot more uphill than we had realized six days ago when we had been benefiting from the gentle slope into Lanouille and the chateau. Rather surprisingly, considering the amount we had eaten during the wedding festivities, we rode the hills easily and not much more than an hour later we were already at our overnight stopover. Unfortunately the hotel was not there. Well, the building was but it had clearly been empty for a long time and a faded piece of paper pinned outside gave an address two km out of town.
We finally found the new location but were three hours too early to check in, so back to town we rolled and began exploring the medieval town hidden behind the more modern streets, which turned out to be a real highlight- lots of twisting cobbled streets and buildings ranging from abandoned and in ruins, to fully functional and inhabited by families, shops or restaurants (most of which were well and truly closed, it being Monday which we had already learned was a painful day to be relying on open businesses).
Surprisingly, we ran into Bec, friend of Melanie’s and marquis organiser extraordinaire, who was killing time before catching trains back to Paris and London. We had lunch together at one of the few open caf??s before she rushed off and we headed back to the hotel which was now open for business again.
After freshening up we wandered down to the lake and nearby porcelain exhibitions (this area being the source of the clay used in Limoges ware). As we headed back to our room the darkening clouds suggested that our run of dry days was about to end and by the time we reached the door the clouds had opened. The downpour hinted that walking the two km back to town for dinner would be a damp exercise so we chose the hotel restaurant instead- a happy decision… the meal was surprisingly good, in fact excellent. It also gave us a chance to observe our fellow guests, who were all single tables of businessmen, obviously on overnight work trips, who sat absolutely silent whilst Jan and I prattled on happily about the hundred and one things that came to mind over dinner. I wouldn’t trade places for anything.