A 36-day adventure by Cindy and Daryl
  • Day27

    Villandry to Amboise. 52 km

    October 1, 2017 in France ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

    Our funky B&B was fine but the dinner and brekky just so-so...aren't we getting picky 😜. Think I'd get tired of ducking under beams pretty quickly too (not to mention Daryl!). Nice lady tho.

    Gorgeous ride in the morning...neat towns, nice track and views. Bit of a slog thru Tours mid-day but the bike route well marked and the cathedral jaw-dropping.

    Then into wine country with a vengeance...very tasty in fact 😋. Hanging our hat in Amboise for a couple nites. Balcony off our room is nice. Chateau right around the corner; oozing history. Definite tourist destination with usual tradeoffs...people watching always fun 👬👩‍🚒💩.
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    Traveler

    Did you find my man?

    10/2/17Reply
     
  • Day25

    Chinon to Villandry. 40 km

    September 29, 2017 in France ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

    The stars aligned today.

    Sunshine, flat riding along la Loire, easy pace, easy distance (40 km), what wind there was..at our back, great scenery. Cafe in Huisme showed up at the perfect time for cafe avec pain du chocolate. Same for the lunch spot at Brehemont with the epicerie open to buy du vin. Finish riding at 2:30, funky / wabi-sabi B&B, outstanding gardens at the chateaux, interesting dinner companion.

    Three weeks in and we finally got the pace just right 😃😀!

    Villandry chateau was good but the gardens spectacular! Unimaginable. The pics don't do justice...as usual. It takes 3 full-time gardeners 4 months to prune the 1084 lime trees each year.

    Little adventure trying to get stamps. We stop at a litte town for lunch. Church bells ring noon. I walk over to the post office but they've just closed...less than 2 minutes...and won't sell me a stamp. They open again on Tuesday! Later at the chateau gift shop I ask if they sell stamps. Yes, but you have to buy a postcard. OK...if I buy a postcard can I get more stamps? Nope....and I quote: "One postcard, one stamp". 🤤
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  • Day25

    A Day Off...

    September 29, 2017 in France ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

    Ok...so it's all relative. But cycling can be hard work you know 🤑.

    First, we had to wash our socks. A wonderful lady showed us the drill at the laverie. The money goes in here...soap pops out on the opposite wall over there. Who knew??

    Next, a walk instead of a bike ride. Did the town of Chinon up right. Cool medieval buildings, worn cobble roads, Vienne River walkway. Noticeable number of empty shops but Wilfrid is waiting to cut your hair 💇‍♂️.

    Then up to the castle fortress 🏰. The real deal here. Huge thick rock walls, catapults and crossbows, moats, towers, narrow firing windows. Joan of Arc presented to King Charles VII here.

    Back in the town a sidewalk biere is in order since the wine tasting places we looked for are closed. Leffe est tres bon. Buy lunch at the epicerie to have at our rooftop terrace (all to ourselves) with rose wine of the region.

    Now a nap is in order 😴 Been a tough day and you don't know when we'll get the chance again....

    Dinner reservation at Restaurant Cote Jardin. - a Rick Steves recommend. It was choc-a-bloc last night and almost empty tonite. Go figure. Fantastic meal in a cool old building.

    Finish with a nightcap in the sitting area outside our room. Up and at 'em tomorrow...back in the saddle first thing 🙃.

    PS. Haven't talked about the weather today. That's because it's gorgeous and not an issue 😄. 26 degrees and sunny.
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  • Day24

    Boussiere to Chinon. 55 km

    September 28, 2017 in France ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

    Lesson for today...just because it says 'Euro Velo' doesn't mean it's the best way forward.

    We took our time again this morning, enjoyed the fresh (always) croissants and bread, fresh preserves, fruit, coffee and juice. (heard Monsieur drive in from the boulangerie before we were up).

    One km down the road to Gennes and we follow the 'velo reparation' sign. Daryl's make-do gears have been complaining. A great bike shop with a guy who knew the ropes did the trick. Out he comes with a new shifter installed...firing on all cylinders again🤸🤸! So even tho it's already noon and we've gone 1 km.... we stop for coffee ☕.

    Okay now, let's get rolling. But first we must stop to get bread and wine for lunch. And Daryl needs new sunglasses - having sat on one pair and breaking another up on his head. Significant avoidance behaviour today.

    Okay now, let's get rolling...really! But speed isn't happening on the rolling (aka hilly) countryside. The bike route takes us off the river...just a bit, but... Lovely views for sure but we study the map hard over lunch in a park just outside Saumur, beside La Loire channel.

    Finally get some clics under our belt. Saumur is a totally cute medieval town. We have to keep going however since we have a place booked in Chinon 30+ km away yet (playing it safe after yesterday 😄). Taking the road less traveled keeps us right beside the Loire and thru some great parks, forests, and outskirts of towns...real living. Past troglodyte caves and wineries. One particularly bumpy route to avoid a hill into town... not sure we saved any time but very scenic.

    We'll hang our hat in Chinon for 2 nights. Back to the best western, Hotel de France. Castle just above us, room right on the square...the better to find a rejuvenating biere after our 55 km 😋.
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  • Day23

    Montjean-sur-Loire to Boussiere. 70 km.

    September 27, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Another 70 km. Another manoir. Ho-hum..😏. Tho with a little bit of adventure.

    Great variety on our ride today and all good paths. Still lots of farmland, forest patches. The Euro-velo took us thru lots of small towns today... very cool riding thru their narrow winding streets. Riding up along the dykes for a good part of the time. And of course along la Loire or a side channel.

    Late getaway after chatting to our hostess Mlyne who's an artist. She wants to spend more time in her craft but the manor keeps her pretty busy. And we think there's always stuff to do around our place! It's for sale...I have her card if you're interested 😊.

    Late coffee with a sampling of the local fromage. It's lunchtime for the workers...their usual 2-1/2 hours for une biere (ou deux), dejeuner-midi, et le nap. A different pace of life.

    Picnic lunch - with wine and more cheese - beside la Loire. Then...what's this?...Get out the lunettes de soleil 🌞! Sun at the back feels great! Pass through the town of Savonnieres, that produces some of the best dry white wine in the world. Duly noted 🤔.

    All going according to plan. Reach the town of St Mathurin Sur Loire at 4:30 pm, stock up at the epicerie and find a chambre. Well...not so fast. Only 2 (small) places right in the town and both full. Phone from the tourist info to others in the area...tout complet or get an answering machine which of course I can't understand. Uh-oh...here it comes 😯. The biker's fear come true!

    Now 5:30 pm and still time to get to the larger town of Saumur - 35 km away - but need to boot it to arrive before dark. So boot it we do, keeping our eyes open for chambres-d'hotes along the way.

    See a sign and take the road a la droite. Can't see any place, so why not ask the locals? Oh yah...we don't speak their language 🙄. (A bit surprised at how little English is spoken in what is a pretty major tourist area). Back to the main road. See another sign a ways ahead and turn a la droite aussi. But just how far up this road is this chambre....no idea. Back to the main road. A little more time wasted 😯.

    45 minutes later - Voila! La Boussiniere chambres-d'hotes. In the middle of nowhere (tho not much is too far around here...just lots farther on a bike!). Another very cool manor up on the hill, built in 1626. Just one other set of guests...c'est tout. So lots of places to stay...you just have to know where to find them 🙄. We now have places booked for the next 4 nights 🤣.
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  • Day21

    Nantes to Montjean sur Loire. 69 km

    September 25, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    A bit of everything for our first day on the Loire. A hopeful start with a nice pathway right beside the mighty River as we cycled out of Nantes. Then...il pleut 🌧️. We took refuge under trees 🌳 a couple of times to wait for the lighter rain. But the worst was the path . Narrow, muddy, bumpy, below the train tracks. Grit in my brakes and gears...not happy about that. I jumped each time the train whistle blew thinking I was in the way 🤤.

    After that we enjoyed lunch at a restaurant that was in the right place at the right time. So after the worst bit of riding yet, we had the best value beer and lunch. There you go...it all works out.

    Much better riding in the afternoon. Especially an idyllic piece along a back channel. The Loire itself is pretty brown looking. Think the best is yet to come.

    Stayed in a small town - Montjean Sur Loire. Very small. Church, grocery store and not a lot else. Booked a chambres-hotes thru booking.com that turned out to be at the very top of the town. Once we made it up up up (pushing our bikes of course!) it's a very cool old manor with super views. Actually written up in the guide books with a history of being a castle then a monastery back in the day.

    69 km today despite the rain delays, so will sleep well.
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    Traveler

    Book me in.....

    9/26/17Reply
     
  • Day20

    Bayeux to Nantes

    September 24, 2017 in France ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    Bayeux - what a cute town. Very walkable, medieval buildings, lots of history, lots of services. One of the few places in Normandie to escape ruin during the war. Enjoyed a leisurely morning checking it out some more. Battle of Normandie museum, Charles de Gaulle park (every town in France has some memorial to de Gaulle), old buildings, winding streets.

    Train to Nantes, with a change in Rennes. We're getting good at this...finding our platform, the little elevators that barely fit one bike and panniers, getting on and off the trains before they take off.

    Big pedestrian centre ville with countless restaurants and shops. Bustling on a Sunday night.. quite the change from a week ago in little Alencon.

    Nantes chateau just up the street. Loire Valley...here we come!
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  • Day20

    D-Day

    September 24, 2017 in France ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C

    A full day tour of Juno Beach and surrounding area focused on Canadian involvement in D-Day...the beginning of the end of WW II.

    Was a beautiful day, so hard to imagine the ships, bombardments, artillery, equipment, troops, killing, confusion on the beaches 73 years ago. Quite the strategy and coordinated effort among the Allies. Saw Juno beach (where the Canadians landed), German bunkers, Abbatiale St. Etienne in Caen where William the conqueror is buried, Canadian cemetery (very beautiful and well-kept), museum...all very good. The Canadians and the Brits brought bicycles with them to cover ground quickly and quietly once on shore!

    Back in Bayeux we wandered thru a little market, people-watched while we had a biere at a cafe, then picked up stuff for supper. For the first time we had dinner at our chambres-hotes that had a common kitchen area. Nice to have a break from going out.

    And a very cool coincidence today. Got talking to a woman on the tour. Her husband was in the forces... so was my Dad.

    Woman: Were you ever in Centralia?
    Me: Yes, for 2 years.
    Woman: I went to Exeter for high school.
    Me: I was in elementary school at the time.
    Woman: We lived in Mt. Carmel.
    Me: Really? Us too!

    (Mt. Carmel is a farming hamlet with just 13 houses on the main street).

    Woman: What's your name?
    Me: Majocha
    Woman: My sister used to babysit you! You had twins in the family.

    Unbelievable!! It was sooooo cool talking to her about the village and the people there...she knew them all. Including the 'spooky' house we used to run past 😯. Her father farmed and also drove machinery on the base and Dad remembers him too! Such a small world!
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    Traveler

    It's a small world after all, It's a small world after all 🎶. That's crazy though!

    9/24/17Reply
    Traveler

    I love that song! Totally crazy. Was weird hearing her talk about Mt. Carmel with such familiarity.

    9/24/17Reply
     
  • Day19

    Friday... must be Bayeux

    September 23, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    A little train trip north, putting bicycles on and off with ease, and we're in the cute town of Bayeux near the D-day beaches.

    You know you're in tourist zone when everyone's French accent is as bad as yours. Quite a difference from the little French villages we've been in so far.

    Home of the Bayeux tapestry. Another incredible feat. Almost 70 m long chronicling the battle of Hastings in 1066 when William the Conqueror became King of England. Daryl remembers learning in school that Harold (who broke his oath to William and crowned himself king) got an arrow in the eye. Sweet justice. Because of that lesson Daryl has never appointed himself King of Englsnd. 👑

    Walk of the town also on the agenda. The cathedral here is amazing. Ok...it's not on a granite island... but it's right up there with Mont St Michel and Chartres. Who knew we'd still be impressed with cathedrals 2-1/2 weeks in?
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  • Day18

    Pontorson to Mont st Michel rtn. 21 km

    September 22, 2017 in France ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    ...if you haven't yet been to Le Mont Saint Michel. C'est magnifique!

    Quite mind-boggling how they managed to build a whole little town on a piece of granite in the middle of the bay. Monks on top in the abbey, then the knights, then workers and pilgrims on the bottom. And they did a good job because the mont was never conquered during the 100 years war, despite a 30 year siege!

    We wondered how they got all the equipment and materials up here until we came to 'le roue grand' Six prisoners would walk inside this big wheel and supplies got hoisted up by a pulley. I wouldn't have minded a ride up that way...the old stairs got pretty steep near the top 😄.

    We arrived at the abbey just as mass was beginning and were treated to the nuns' angelic singing - wonderful. Intricate architecture and amazing engineering at every turn. Although they're set up to handle 3 million tourists a year with a dyke walkway and bridge, some still make the traditional pilgrim's trek across the flats at low tide.

    Over the years the bay began to silt up from human interference, so they quite recently installed a dam at the mouth of the river. They release the dammed water regularly to help flush the sediments out to sea, thus keeping Le Mont an island!

    Capped the evening with the local Normandie brandy (made from apples) - called Calvados. En Sante!
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