Day 14: La Rochelle

Kilometers covered: 765
Départements traveled: 7
Wines sampled: 20
Fromage consumed: 11

Yes, so: Day 14 actually starts very early the morning of Sunday, but properly Saturday night, when I was informed that we would all be going out to a bar and then a club, followed by a jacuzzi party, and then there would be more drinking and probably lots of sex and no sleeping. Hmm. Staying out till 6AM at the club is not usually my choice, but this somehow seemed like a “When in Rome” moment. So I got my game face on– with the caveat that I had just biked 122km, and I might fall asleep at the bar.

Amazingly, I stayed awake and even felt pretty functional. The bar was fun, but it closed at 2AM, so we went to the club and I paid the €10 to get in. As clubs go, it was pretty tolerable– nice people, not too crowded, not insanely loud. After a couple hours I got a bit bored, though– but so did everyone else, so we left around 4:30 or 5. I can’t strictly remember.

At that point there was apparently more drinking and a jacuzzi and who knows what else, but I was out. I woke up around 11 with a little fuzziness but no hangover, though there was that morning-after feeling of why-did-I-do-that-again? With some good coffee and bread I gained courage and went out to see the town of La Rochelle, which I had sorta seen the night before but only darkly and wearily. A nice little port town, old towers, pedestrians walking along the promenade for a Sunday afternoon. I grabbed a French style burger and frites at a local cafe, which seemed to help the why-did-I-do-that-again feeling, and then walked back to prep for dinner.

Dinner was to be the highlight of the day– and for some, its only scheduled activity. Beef Bourgignon, a true French classic, courtesy of the resident in-house chef, Jean Claude. It was somehow charming and comical that this all-male group house– a bohemian gay Frenchman, his Hungarian lover, a bewildered African student from Benin, and a wild-eyed traveler from the Netherlands was completed by a very sweet and talented chef in his 60s from New Caledonia. Jean Claude had lived in San Francisco, Southeast Asia, and Nepal before ending up in La Rochelle. One expects he had a wealth of stories.

The meal was delicious, and I was able to contribute a small galette with a sauce made from the figs taken off the tree in the back of their house. But this time, I was out of the game by 10pm– hoping to be fully recovered and on my way early the next day.

THE MEAL: Bouef Bourgignon; boiled potatoes; garden salad with vinaigrette; galette with figs and syrup

THE WINE: A local bottle of rouge (“Perles Noires d’Orleron”) from the island of Oreleron just off the coast of La Rochelle.

THE ROOM: Spare bed in Thomas’ room: saved from the couch of iniquity. (Thanks Thomas!)

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