It is Ascension Day in France and they are all on holiday; the Marais Poitevin is busy with holiday makers hiring boats on the canals, walking, fishing and mostly cycling. There are the groups of shiny lycra clad men charging through the wheat fields practicing for the Tour, elderly couples on sit up and beg bicycles with baskets; these baskets often have a small dog sitting precariously in them, but most of all there are family groups of many generations on bicycles of different sizes with numerous children on tag-alongs, asleep in trailers or sat in child seats on the back. Over-taking these family groups (obviously we never over-take the lycra groups) takes nerves of steel as they use all of the road in an erratic manner that is impossible to judge and are chatting to each other so loudly they never hear your bell. Worse still was meeting a group coming down a narrow track in the opposite direction, we felt we had inadvertently gone the wrong way in the Tour de France and were trying to cycle through the Peleton.
The bridges over the navigable canals are constructed steeply to enable the low punts to sail underneath. Coming down these bridges bought out the Lance Armstrong in Anthony, as he hurtled down as if on the starting ramp for the time trial.
We took some time out from cycling to walk through the Marais; giving us time to spot flowers and butterflies and watch the cows and sheep grazing in their shaded woodland fields. If we were ever tempted to buy a French holiday home, the Marais Poitevin would be a very strong contender.