Villandry and the End of the PiesSeptember 21, 2019 in France ⋅ 🌧 23 °C
Despite the severe risk of becoming repetitive, I will begin with a comment on the weather at the start of our ride. Once again it was absolutely perfect, without a single cloud to blot the sky. Although this is great for us, it is not so good for the locals who are becoming increasingkly concerned about the lack of water. Much of France is now suffering from strict water restrictions, and the rivers are only a pale shadow of what they normally would be at this time of the year.
Our first challenge was to navigate our way out of Tours. This was made even more difficult by the fact that large sections of the main road were being torn up. We eventually made it to the bike path and were able to start making real progress.
The main highlight of the day was the famous Chateau at Villandry and its even more famous gardens. This place really is quite beautiful and the gardens are sensational. The only other garden that comes even close would be Lothar and Celia's famous garden at Pakenham in Australia.
Of course, while we were riding, we were also very conscious of another significant event taking place on the other side of the planet - the preliminary final football match between Collingwood and Greater Western Sydney. I could well imagine all those tattooed and toothless Collingwood supporters shouting their abuse at everything and everyone, and we could only hope that Collingwood would lose the match and put them all out of their misery.
Towards the end of the last quarter we pulled aside to listen to the commentary. When the final siren sounded the death knell for the pies, there may have been tears of grief from the magpie army in Melbourne, but a resounding cheer went up from the Ghostriders thousands of km away on the Loire.
We spent a couple of hours admiring the gardens and chateau at Villandry and marvelling over the fact that it is actually privately owned. By the time we were due to leave, the temperature had risen to around 30C and we were not relishing the thought of another 20 km in the hot sun.
Although the path along the river was really quite beautiful, there was a challenging succession of climbs on the outskirts of Azay le Rideau that really made us sweat and sway as we climbed. When Gordon stopped to wipe the sweat from his face, Russell told him that there was really no need for him to cry like that. I guess that's easy to say when you only weigh about 50 kg.
We were all very happy for the ride to end, and we were even happier when we realised that we had been booked into the very comfortable 4 star Grand Monarque Hotel. This building was built in the 18th century as a staging post, but it is now a lovely hotel. Our rooms were huge, probably the best equipped we had stayed in for the entire ride so far.
Azay le Rideau is also home to a beautiful chateau, but it was a little distressing to see how the lack of water had reduced the water in the moat to a stagnant puddle. We happened to have arrived in the middle of a fete, complete with various performers and bands.
Our meal was arranged for us at the hotel, where we had a private room exclusively for us. We are beginning to feel like royalty. We were even sent off to to sleep with a fireworks display.
Finally, it is worth pointing out that today marked the official end of summer in Europe. Tomorrow will be the first day of autumn and also the first day that some rain is predicted to fall. It will almost be a relief from the continual sunshine we have had up till now.Read more