Sunday 5th April
For the first time since we left Ouistreham, 6 long days ago, we had sunshine! This felt very good!! As you can see from all my exclamation marks!!!
However, as it was Sunday, and not only that but Easter, in France (land of the hour and a half lunch break) the first job of the day was to cycle to 3 supermarkets and confirm that yes, they were all closed. Luckily we’d had an idea that this might be the case, so initiated a classic Brits-abroad pre-emptive strike by stealing from the breakfast buffet (baguettes in pockets). I say “stealing”, my mum would say “taking what’s rightfully yours”.
Anyway, today was the day that we joined the Loire Valley cycle path. As you might expect, it’s very nice! For some of the time we were right by the river:
Unexpectedly, quite a lot of the time we were inland, wiggling our way through little villages and farmland.
Here’s a picture of a sort of mini-castle that was marked as “private property” – who owns a castle??
It was quite an uneventful day. There was a strong headwind to contend with, but no hills at all. We arrived in Saumer by 4, and as all the supermarkets were closed we were forced to go out for dinner (oh no!).
The place we stayed at was quite interesting as it had a dolmen next door to it (Wikipedia told me that a dolmen is an ancient burial site, and nobody knows all that much about them. There was a lot more information but that’s as far as I got). Here it is:
Final thing, we hit the 500 mile mark today :). Time to celebrate… with more cycling!
Monday 6th April
Today it was one week since we left Ouistreham and officially started the cycle tour. Because we’ve stayed at so many different places it feels like so much longer! It’s quite strange being a nomad, I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. It’s been very enjoyable, and it feels very free, but I wouldn’t call it relaxing, not right now anyway. I’ll tell you what I think again in another week’s time.
We spent a fantastic morning going through vineyards and pretty villages which are built from the limestone along the Loire. There were also lots of caves, which locals had made good use of, either offering tours or using them for shops and restaurants.
Some views from the bike:
We also did a bit of castle spotting…
Here’s Saumer’s chateau:
In the afternoon some mega butt pain was setting in. I was trying valiantly to appreciate the lovely views and how lucky we were to be there etc. etc., but this had to compete with the loud voice in my head going “OWWW, MY BOTTOM!!!”
We arrived in Tours by about 6, and met up with the guy whose apartment we’re using. It’s quite an interesting place, the building is 14th Century and up a tiny three flight spiral staircase. Getting the trailer up there was interesting… getting it back down again will be even more fun!
On our way into Tours, stopping by the town hall:
Tuesday 7th April
Miles: 0 – rest day!
Today we wandered around Tours. It’s a really nice place. There’s a university here, and the whole city has a friendly studenty feeling to it. To illustrate this, let me give you a snapshot of the people we saw in the space of 2 minutes while we were waiting for our AirBnb host.
- A man with long blond hair walking down the street playing a bongo
- A white guy with dreadlocks down to his waist
- A guy practising the tight-rope
- A girl wearing a pair of Aladdin-style trousers (don’t know what they’re really called) doing some sort of rythmic hand-clapping
We spent the morning at the botanical garden there, which had some animals too, including this chicken:
I cannot tell you how much I loved this chicken. It made me laugh every time I saw it.
Tours has a lovely atmospheric old town with lots of places to eat.
Eric keeps it classy as usual:
After lunch we went to check out the Musee Du Camponnonage. This had been strongly recommended to us by Eric’s dad. It’s a museum full of masterpieces completed by apprentices who did the original Tour De France learning different trade skills (nothing to do with cycling). But it turned out the Musee was closed on Tuesdays! Damn you France!
Never mind. We went to see the cathedral instead. We’ve seen a few recently but they never fail to impress.
It was actually really hot today. I took my jumper off. I had an icecream. It’s happening people, spring is here!
After more exploring the old town it was back to have a quick look at the chicken again, before calling it a day.
We are now planning to head for La Rochelle, which should take us about 3 days. As the weather has improved we’re going to try camping again. Hm. Guess we’ll see how that goes!