Friday 10 August 2012: The Hotel de Ville, Niort
The heat and hills of yesterday had taken their toll and with the temperature again over 30 degrees and the sky a deep cloudless blue, we decided to have a day looking round the town and relaxing.
It started so well with a petit dejeuner at a pavement cafe, watching the world go by as we consumed vast quantities of baguette washed down with hot chocolate.
Niort is not a particularly beautiful town, but it has some lovely churches and the remnants of an old castle,the Donjon.
It is home to some banking interests and insurance companies and has also some light industry.
However it is the start of the Marais Poitevin , La Venise Verte, an area of shady rivers and peaceful canals, which is a conservation area and the second largest wetland area in France, after the Camargue.
It wasn't until we had almost got back to the hotel in the afternoon when disaster struck and my chain broke.
Without the proper tools, there was nothing for it but to push and freewheel back to the * Permanence where there was a bike repairer.
How lucky that it didn't happen yesterday or on tomorrow's ride when help would have been miles away.
'Always look on the bright side of life', as his Lordship sang, pedalling home.
* The Permanence is the temporary village site where the Semaine has its restaurants, and stands, selling cycling gear and food.