The Rains of Angers (Saumur to Angers)

Slightly longer but straightforward day today, under 60km straight down the river to Angers.

Any thoughts of leisurely sightseeing along the Loire were drowned in the rain that started about an hour outside of Saumur, however. It wasn’t really heavy, but it was constant and saturating. We stuck to the main road and pretty much powered straight through to Angers, getting there around one.

Our lodgings at Angers are another Catholic setup, right over the river from the centre of town. Double rooms with ensuite, much better than average food, very quiet, all the hallmarks of Catholic hospitality we’ve come to expect from previous stays in Catholic places, all here too. More actual nuns, too.

The rain stopped mid-afternoon so we headed into the centre of town for a look around. The chateau has a spectacular medieval castle at one end, and the cathedral has two striking rose windows and some nice tapestries. Nice modern trams in the streets too, which is nice. Incidentally, it’s pronounced something like “Ann-jers”, with a soft g sound.

Off to Varades tomorrow for our last night on the road before we arrive in Nantes!


Three Days To Nantes (Chinon to Saumur)

Rolled out of our countryside gite just past eight, met up with Terrance at the other lodging (the group had been split between two places, not uncommon when we’re in smaller places) and headed back to Chinon for another look around, as we’d just rolled through yesterday.

Today was a short stage, less than forty km, so we took our time, had an early coffee in Chinon, then headed along the Vienne river back toward the Loire.

After lunch at a park beside the Loire, we headed up to the Abbey Fontevard for a quick look. It was unique in having both monks and nuns (in strictly separated parts of the complex) but with a nun, the Chief Abbess, in charge of the whole thing, including the monks, as a result of the wishes of the abbey’s founder.

After that we rode to Saumur and found the night’s accommodation, a quite nice hostel on an island in the Loire.

After getting settled I headed to the local train station and booked my train ticket back to Paris from Nantes on the 17th of July, with the bike.

That gives me two full days and the morning of the 17th in Nantes after we arrive there, and the full day of the 18th in Paris for packing the bike up and hanging out before I fly out on the morning of the 19th.

Off to Angers tomorrow, a slightly longer day of 60-some km.


The Carnivorous Cabbages of Villandry (La Croix-en-Touraine to Chinon)

Great but long day of riding, cold in the morning but warm and muggy by afternoon. We left La Croix-en-Touraine around eight AM and didn’t get to our gite outside Chinon until past five PM.

We passed through the city of Tours enroute, stopping only long enough for coffee and to admire the shiny new streetcars.

Lunch was a picnic outside Chateau Villandry, then we took about an hour to tour the famous gardens, which include a huge decorative garden composed mostly of vegetables. The carnivorous cabbages only come out at night, apparently.

After Villandry we did a quick photo stop outside the chateau d’Usse, which was one of the inspirations for the Sleeping Beauty story – its all pointy towers and frilly bits in stone.

We paused again for coffee in Chinon, then decided to head for our lodging instead of exploring that town – easy to come back tomorrow, as we’ve got a short day of riding.

Our lodging is a lovely old farmhouse that has been turned into a gite, basically a bed and breakfast setup. Nice and quiet just outside the village of Lerne, except for the dog on the next farm over…

Off to Saumur tomorrow, a short run of under 50km.


A Day Off, Avec un Chateau (in La Croix-en-Touraine, day trip to Chenonceaux)

Day off in La Croix-en-Touraine, which we started by finding laundry services, which turned out to be an entirely automatic washer/dryer setup in the parking lot of one of the local supermarkets, under a glass roof but otherwise open – picture an oversized bus shelter with a short row of machines built into the back wall.

We found a nice cafe with WiFi while the washing machine rid the world of some touring cyclist funk, came back to the hostel to hang clothes to dry, then it was off to Chenonceaux, one of the classic Loire chateaux.

I forgot to take a cameraphone pic (took lots with the actual camera!) but everyone has seen photos of Chenonceaux: it’s the chateau that is also a bridge over the river that’s in every collection of French tourist propaganda ever.

We coughed up the rather steep entry fee and spent almost three hours looking around. It’s a fascinating building, with links to everyone from Catherine de Medici to the French Resistance during WW2. It’s not actually that large, either, which surprised me. It overwhelms with complexity and detail rather than sheer size as some grand buildings do.

Back on the road tomorrow, through Tours to a place in the countryside near Chinon, west and south of Tours.