Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Cycling in the Loire

The journey continues and now it is a week since I left Orleans on the bike. Today it has turned bitterly cold though so I am glad to be hiding in an Internet cafe! The French are wondering where their summer has gone. I was in danger of running out of sunblock a few weeks ago: and now I am very thankful I packed so many warm clothes in my paniers; and especially my windproof jacket that I had very little wear out of in my first month of travel!
I spent several days based at the campsite in Chateauneuf-sur-Loire and it is a campsite I would heartily recommend to anyone travelling in this area. It is run by some very friendly people and is very clean. My tent-site right on the riverbanks was just superb and I loved sitting there just watching the river.
The day after my last posting I took a daytrip to Sully-sur-Loire. Didn't realise the "fairytale" Chateau was closed for renovations until 2007! But it was good to go 20km without any baggage on the bike anyhow. Called back into the Benedictine Abbey on the return journey, just in time to hear them singing Gregorian Chant for the midday Mass.
Saturday evening was the most superb sunset. From the campsite you just looked straight down the river to see it. Magic.
Sunday morning I woke to rain and decided to stay put and have a rest day. As it happened, it did fine up later. Monday morning I woke to even heavier rain! By 11am it had stopped though so I decided to take a punt and pull up the tent. Luckily I struck it fine on the next leg.
Monday then was a journey to La Ferte St Aubin. I was really pleased with the route I managed to work out using the 1cm: 1km map. The last section of my route (on a white road on the map) took me downhill through lovely forest. France still has big wild areas left with plenty of trees and this I love. It was just over 36km on this route, but the bike is so good it felt like less.
Being Monday, the shops in La Ferte St Aubin were all closed. In NZ we think the shops need to be open all the time but in many places in Europe they are not! in fact it can be tricky cycling to get meals as restaurants only open for lunch and dinner at certain hours. They might serve drinks in between, but not food.
Tuesday I rode to Beaugency, about 26km. Another lovely campsite beside the river. These municipal campsites are incredibly good value. For a tent and one adult I have only paid 4 to 5 Euros a night so far. There is a small charge per day for a car, but not for a "velo". Last night in the camping ground I met up with a German family, also here to cycle in the Loire, though with less time. It was good to share notes. And good to discover someone else who had assumed there would be an open camping ground in Orleans only to find there wasn't! I have since discovered that if I am back this way, the Paris train passes through Beaugency (and Blois and a few other places) so I don't need to return via Orleans in any case.
OK time to brave the cold outside again!

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