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.


Blois to La Croix-en-Touraine

Straightforward ride today, partly along the Loire and partly through random farmland and a bit of forest.

We didn’t really see anything of Blois, which is unfortunate as it looks like a lovely town. We also skirted the edge of Amboise this afternoon, another town I’d love to spend a day or two exploring.

Tomorrow is a day off, our last, and we’re planning to bike down to Chenonceaux, a famous chateau not far away, then possibly catch the train up to Tours for the afternoon and the train back here to La Croix-en-Touraine.


More Chateaux (Orleans to Blois)

Good but long day on the road, only 70km but we left the hostel in Orleans at 0800 and I didn’t get to our hostel in Blois until past 1700.

We started off with a wander through central Orleans, which is q great looking city I would have loved to have more time in.

The highlight of the day was a wander around Chambord, a castle/chateau so over the top it boggles the mind. The roofline is awesomely complex, chimneys, windows and towers rioting all over the place.

Just outside Blois I got another flat, so I walked the bike about five km through the city with a stop at a bike shop, then spent the evening swapping tires and tubes around to hopefully fix the issues I had today and yesterday.

Off to a village near Tours tomorrow for two nights, including our last day off before the end of the trip.