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J30 - Sunday, November 15: Saintes (Yvon Chevalier Stadium)-Jarnac (Place du Château)

57km – 7H07’

Being able to sleep late restored Serge.  He is up at 8:00 for a departure at 9:30 from the stadium.  The distance between Saintes and Cognac as the crow flies is 30km.  At the time of our reconnaissance we decided to lengthen the distance a bit by taking small, hilly roads to the NE of Saintes before descending to Chaniers, on the Charente River.  There are legions of signs saying “Pineau and tastings”.
At Dompierre, we cross some courageous hikers who not only are wearing hiking shoes and gaiters but are all carrying an umbrella.  Approaching Cognac, we enter the last department of the Poitou Charente region: la Charente.
There is a surprise visit from Jean-Jacques Chadeau, a young retiree.  J-J, as we call him, was a sports podiatrist in Angoulème.  He was one of the pioneers who accompanied Serge when he crossed the USA in 1997.  We are very happy to see him here in Charente.
The economy of this region of Cognac depends mostly on the products of the vineyards.  At 2:30 Serge enters the gardens of the town hall of Cognac where some 20 runners and a few cyclists are waiting to accompany him to Jarnac.  By luck of the calendar we arrive in the midst of sports festivities because it is the weekend of the “Cognac Marathon,” which was held Saturday morning.  Some of the runners with Serge today ran the 10km, the half or the marathon.
At the request of the Cognac chapter of the CJD, the organizers of the marathon agreed to end this festive weekend with the arrival of Serge, followed by a concert.  The Place du Château, on the banks of the Charante, where Courvoisier has its head office, is full of all sorts of tents, banners and flyers.  We thank them for this grand ceremony with official speaker, music and a line of enthusiastic spectators.  It’s a beautiful arrival in the rain but to Hell with the bad weather, Jarnac is sparkling this evening.
Jarnac is also the birth and burial place of ex-president, François Mitterand.  This evening Serge arrives in good shape.  Thanks go to the CJD team: Olivier, Vincent and the others who worked to organize this wonderful finish.  It was also the occasion for us to meet the four-time Olympic medalist, David Mercier.  This extraordinary athlete participates in normal cycling events as well as those for the handicapped.   He discovered his high level athletic talent following a road accident.  Our hats go off to this great man, whom we will follow closely at the 2012 Games in London, for his fifth Olympics.
For information, Serge will run at departure tomorrow from the place where we will spend the night, the hamlet of Mainxe, to the Place du Château of Jarnac.  That way we will make more than the 44km originally planned.
I was about to forget the most important thing.  We have discovered a purely local aperitif: Cognac Schweppes!

Town : Jarnac

GPS : N 45.67908° - W 000.17399°