This morning dawned another lovely morning and I left by the back gate of the camping ground for a quiet morning walk along the river Cher. Peaceful and beautiful. I have been camping out for nearly two weeks now and so far am not at all sick of it. I am enjoying the outdoors immensely, both in the daytime on the bike, and in the evenings watching the day end, and hearing the birds sing. It helps that the 3/4 length self-inflating Thermarest I carried all the way from New Zealand is extremely comfortable and well worth the money I spent on it. But after a day of cycling I guess my body is well ready for a sleep anyhow!
Ever since I first learned some French I have wanted to see the Pont du Gard, and Chenonceau. I saw the Pont du Gard last trip, and this time, today I got to Chenonceau!
It was about a ten km bike ride from the camping ground to Chenonceau and I decided to get on the road before 8.30 so I could be there when it opened at 9am. Good move. There was barely a person there when I arrived, but people were pouring in by 10.30. When I arrived I was the only bike parked there, but when I left the bike racks were full of people with all their luggage on the back in paniers. So far I have only met up with one German family carrying all their gear on the bike same as me. There are lots of Dutch around at present doing day trips with their bikes carried on the back of a campervan in between places. And I have seen some organised groups where people are getting their gear transported to the next hotel. But I have yet to meet others carrying their tents etc. Maybe when I get onto the more touristed stretch south of Tours I will meet up with them all in the camping grounds!
Chenonceau has a very interesting history being tied up with royalty etc. It was given to Diane of Poitiers who was the King's mistress. After the King died, Catherine (?) de Medici got it back for herself and ruled from there for a while. Diane put a bridge over the Cher from the chateau, and Catherine added a big gallery on top to turn it into a ballroom. In WW1 it was used as a hospital to treat the wounded and in WW2 it provided a route across the river Cher from Occupied into Unoccupied territory.
The first thing I did when I approached the Chateau was head over towards the gardens to see the famous reflection of the Chateau on the River, before there was a chance of the wind getting up! Inside, what I found most interesting was the whole kitchen area, which had a huge area for butchery of game, as well as the cooking area. And there was a place for delivery of provisions to happen by boat from the river.
I had a hot chocolate before leaving the chateau and now I am back in Montrichard where I have had a delicious lunch. I am getting better at structuring my days around the very set French eating times: if you don't, you tend to go hungry! Now I am going out to explore a bit more of Montrichard on another warm afternoon. Tomorrow I plan a rest day for my cycling muscles: there is a pilgrimage here that I plan to see at least some of, though I might get a bit lost with all the French after a while.
Bye for now - until I find the next town with Internet access!