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Entering Belgium from France

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The Customs is closed. Everything is duty-free.

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Île de Ré / La Rochelle

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Straight ahead: Le pont Île de Ré connecting the island with the continental France.
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The salt marches where the famous salt is harvested.
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Surprisingly, there are lots of vineyards on the island. It’s not just the potatoes!
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The disappearing locks of Ile de Re. Of the 140 at the beginning of the 20 century, there are only about 12 left.
The old way of fishing, by catching fish in the locks during the low tide, is completely gone now.
Building and maintaining the locks requires thousands of man-hours. The rocks are not cemented in any way so unless constantly repaired the walls disappear into the ocean.
One last look before heading back to St Martin de Re
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Salt for sale, self-service.
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The low tide at Couarde-sur-Mer. The entire island is as flat as a pancake.
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Getting on the 3-mile bridge to La Rochelle. It’s surprisingly easy to cross over. However, navigating in La Rochelle is not so.  To get to the old town you must bike through the vast commercial area.
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Finally, Cafe-au-lait in La Richelle
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Pam sketches the Vieux Port as the beggar pigeon pesters me.
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The campsite at St Martin de Re is located inside the massive Vauban fortress.
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The old port, La Rochelle
The famous Île de Re potatoes are grown here.
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The farmers leave a lot of them on the ground. Gleaning  is easy.
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The ride to the western point of Île de Ré. Salt marshes and bird sanctuaries in the wetlands.
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Ars-en-Re. A stop to take a look at its remarcable church.
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Ars-en-Re. The spire is slightly leaning due to a lightning strike in 1836. The black and white design distinguishes it from miles away.

In search of Jeanne d’Arc

A lot of my cycling activities are centered around the childhood of Jeanne d’Arc. The Meuse valley.  This area of France is a topographical puzzle. The borders intertwine in strange ways, you are never sure where you are – it is Meuse of Vosges?

The most eastern province in the medieval France, where the locals were ruled by a complex vassal system where your lord was a servant of a greater Lord who in his turn would be in a relationship with another power.

Both the church and civilian branches played their roles. And the areas of their authority did not match.  For example, Jeanne had to report to Toul, where the ecclesiastical court was held, as a defendant in the case that was brought against her by a man from Neufchateau, which was technically in a different “county”.

The man sued her for a broken marriage promise. In Toul, Jeanne argued her case before the judges and the charge was dismissed.

The Holy Roman Empire was just to the east (and it’s borders were always changing). France was to the west. Was Jeanne even French?

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