Thursday, June 29, 2006

Cycling finished!

Well, it was great, but my time cycling in the Loire is now all over!
I worked out a final route for Tuesday that was a circuit of just over 50km from Beaugency. It took me past the countryside and villages I have grown accustomed to. Some crops were ready to harvest and some sunflowers were nearly ready to flower, so you got these amazing contrasts of golden fields next to brilliant green. As always, you are moving at a speed where you get to see the details.
At the church in Talcy they had wonderful classical music playing, and I left on the bike singing Alleuia.
I had a problem with a loose guard at Talcy and took the bike into a bike shop I passed in Mer. It was fixed for me for next to nothing, I was told I spoke good French (which is all relative to most foreign customers who speak none- but it made me feel good anyhow) and asked what nationality I was. Then I was wished "Bonne Vacances".
At another church there was a very old scultpure on the front of St Martin sharing his cloak: this is a detail that I have seen often in this area.
Wednesday morning arrived and I packed up my belongings onto the bike for the last time then caught the train at Beaugency. I realised I had no photo of me all loaded up so got someone at the station to take one! Four Swiss cyclists joined the train at Orleans, en route home. The train was supposed to go to Austerlitz, but a power failure there meant we had to change to RER D to travel into Paris. This ended up much better for me as I then changed to RER B at Chatelet which had lifts to use, rather than all the flights of steps at Notre Dame station.
I took RER B all the way to St Remy les Chevreuse and then climbed on the bike for my last 13km ride to Bonnelles. I noticed I found the hills much easier, even with a laden bike, though they were still long and I did get off and walk!
Tomorrow morning I am leaving for St Malo and hope to get to Jersey soon though I am not sure about ferries yet! I am donning my backpack again and it is extra heavy at present. It has my 3kg tent in it. This was a cheap tent that has already got a cracked pole so I will ditch it after Jersey, but I don't think there are many cheap options there for accommodation other than camping. (I might be wrong). I also have a pile of maps and brochures from the Loire to post home, and think I can get surface mail in Jersey. I think I will keep hold of my bike helmet for now though in case I hire a bike somewhere for a day or two. We are used to wearing helmets at home, but they are not so common here.
OK time to go for now. Next blog may not be from France. But as always, plans are flexible!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Back in Beaugency

On Saturday I decided it was time to say goodbye to the population of earwigs near my tent in the camping ground near Blois and I headed back to Beaugency, and from here I will take the train back to Paris on Wednesday.
I mostly followed the 'Loire a velo' route. The part of the track passing out of the Chateau area was clearly marked, and even had a route signposted that is not on the latest map I have got. There is a lot of development going on to make this a good place for cyclists to come, and even this year's maps may not have all the routes marked. The route closer to Beaugency is 'provisional' and some of it is a bit rough, but no doubt it will soon improve. The whole day's cycling was good though, past lots of attractive countryside again, and close to the river in places. It is all a bit 'bittersweet' as I know I am near the end of this section of my trip.
I had a route planned out for Sunday, but for once the weather intervened. The rain was pouring down! I stayed in my tent watching it. When the bells rang out at 10.30 across the river for Mass I decided to go. (I love the sound of European bells.) Then I returned to hide in my tent again and the rain did reduce to drizzle. Later in the afternoon I ventured out with a lovely English couple in a tent near me to watch the soccer game, England vs Ecuador, in a bar. Luckily for the mood of the afternoon, Beckham scored a great goal and England came out winners 1-0. Not being a huge follower of soccer, my entertainment mainly lay in watching the reactions of bar patrons to events on the screen!
Today I have caught the train into Orleans, mainly to use the internet! The weather has improved and I hope to do my "last route" tomorrow before catching Wednesday's train. Then onto St Malo for Jersey. I was thinking about fitting in Lisieux en route, but the trains are a bit complicated. Maybe when I return from Ireland...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Our Lady of the Trinity

Today our really good weather has returned. I woke to see the sunshine sparkling on the Loire and the day is just getting hotter. Sorry to all the Kiwis, especially those in the North Island: I have just read about all the snow etc!
Today I am having a quiet day exploring a bit more of Blois. I went to a church this morning that I recommend to everyone who visits this town, Notre Dame de la Trinite. It is a bit out of the centre, but it stands out when you are on the other side of the river. It was built in the 30s, and it has not been often in France (or Italy) where I have been in a place with a fairly modern church. This one is impressive. It is coated with Loire pebbles. The outside is quite simple and straight. Inside the decoration with modern religious art kept me gazing for quite some time. The large stained glass windows fill the space like medieval ones. Smaller windows give more modern messages. The Stations of the Cross and some other episodes from the Gospels are wrought large on the walls underneath in 3D. There is a hgie mosaic above the altar, and there are tapestries. A lot to look at and think about.
Last night I sat on the riverbank and watched the sunset again. My time on the Loire with the bicycle is coming to and end, but it has been a time close to the natural world I have really enjoyed. There are some large photographs of the Loire exhibited outdoors here in Blois at present. I find I can easily identify with the moods portrayed in each photo. I really have seen quite a lot of the Loire!


I actually went to the chateau at Chambord earlier in my Loire 'tripping around', when I was camping at Bracieux. It was such a shock to me to be in full-on "tourist-land" after over a week cycling in the countryside, that I only cycled in the grounds and never went in! However, the outside view has remained one of the most splendid I have seen so I decided to go inside this morning.
I took another of the routes out of the 'Chateaux By Velo' leaflet: fortunately a little short quiet road from the camping ground joined me on to it. It was an interesting ride through Vineuil (houses and high school) then out into the countryside. I actually passed some fields of sunflowers but they are still too short to get that archeypal photo taken with sunflowers in the background- though I noticed a few had opened by this afternoon.
There was an informative video soon after you entered Chambord and I am glad I took the time to sit and see it, as it made a lot of sense of the architectural arrrangement I was about to see. When you first see Chambord, you see a mass of spires of all shapes and sizes and the whole thing looks incredibly complex. But in the video it pointed out how there is a central tower, that is like an Italian 'lantern' that allows in lots of light. This tower has a "double" staircase going up inside it. Even as you walk up it, it is hard to work out how it all fits together: you can enter either staircase for climbing or descending. Then around the central tower, four nearly symmetrical sections are arranged in the form of a cross. It is apparently quite rare to have a secular building made like this. Having seen the video, it all made sense as I walked through the rooms and along the outside passages. You get to climb two flights and come out on a roof closer to some of the spires so they look all the more impressive. But it is the overal design of the sections around the central tower, elegant and seemingly simple, that I found most impressive.
I left Chambord and started the cycle route home. Thought I was about to miss out on my lunch-timing yet again when I came across a village restaurant with a good value three course menu.
Next I bumped into a slightly distressed young Japanese woman. She had hired a bike but was even more lost than I usually manage to get. So I went back along the road with her until Chambord was in sight, at which stage she looked very happy. I hope she gets home all right this evening.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Blois is a shock to the system after the peace of the last few days! The traffic seems a little crazed and the place is gearing up for a music festival. Two big stages have been erected within sight of one another and they seem to be practising different types of music, and one of the stages especially has a huge array of speakers: I think I am glad that the camping ground is several kilometres out of town on the riverbank, but maybe we will even hear the sounds from there! There seems to be quite a student population here so I dare say they will thrive on the noise.
I had a delicious lunch here with kind service of the sort that is mostly normal in France. Then I climbed uphill to the Cathedral. It has a large crypt underneath and signs of some earlier buildings. Such a long history.
I then tried to access my e-mail but Yahoo seems to be down so I am returning to the camping ground bereft of my usual comfort of e-mail! Ahhh but the temperature is a little lower today so I have bought some chocolate instead. A nice elderly Dutch couple were setting up next to me in the camping ground. This really does seem to be Dutch month in the Loire!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


This is my second night now in Candé-sur-Beuvron, a very tranqil little village. This morning I went walking and saw the Cosson flow into the Beuvron, then a little further down the Beuvron flowed into the Loire. It seemed like a major event that needed some signs, but it all happened very quietly and calmly!
I then went on a bike ride using a mixture of rides from the Chateaux à Loire pamphlet, about 50km and was pleased it was a little cooler today. I went through Valaire, Sambin, Fresnes, Chitenay, Seur, and had a delicious lunch at Valaire on my return. I then slept in a siesta. (An easy sleep - need to watch my iron levels I think!) The whole bike ride was through the most tranquil countryside, past crops and vines and farmhouses and forest. Saw my first live deer after all the roadsigns! (A young animal; lovely red brown coat.) Very easy to enjoy being on a bike, having a great sense of wel-being.

This village has a seminary where the young priests go out to live in community. Have also seen a Zen temple and a disco place nearby, all in the countryside!

Monday, June 19, 2006

A wee thunderstorm!

Today has been a 'jour de conge' again. Got up earlyish -(some balloons were being launched near the camping ground and their gas thrusting was!) Then headed off to the local laundromat so I could render some semblance of cleanliness to my clothes, some of which are now stained beyond redemption and will be turfed in Singapore before I return home to a cooler springtime. Then I went to the local church for Mass and was given a translation of the readings in English which was a lovely touch. Then I bought a sandwich and sat beside the Loire under a shady tree to eat it. Decided to return to the camping ground for a siesta and only just made it before a thunderstorm struck. Well sort of a thunderstorm. I am sure that France can have some amazing thunderstorms as in various churches where they have a history of the building, it has not been unusual to read about some major damage in some century of other caused via a thunderstorm. However, today's storm was not in that class. Within ten minutes the rain had stopped and it was hotter than ever. So now I am hiding in an air-conditioned internet cafe all over again!
Plan to move on to Chaumont or Candy-sur-Beauvron tomorrow and spend some more time exploring in the chateau area, if not inside the chateaux themselves!

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Today I caught the train into Tours, having a 'day off' from the bike.
From the train station you emerge into modern Tours, and it is in some ways the least 'French' place I have been, with lots and lots of modern buildings and shops. However, this suited my purposes as I was desperately in need of some new underwear! Ladies, if you think bras are expensive in NZ, double it and add some for France! I was at a loss at first to identify my size, but with the good service I have come to recognise as typically French, I was soon efficiently and kindly measured, and the perfect fit occurred first off.
Having done my little bit of shopping, (which is always a 'little bit' when you know you have to carry it all in your paniers which are just the same size as they were yesterday!) - I was almost at a loss for what to do next. I knew I wanted to go and visit the Cathedral but saw no signs for it. But then I discovered the 'Old town' in the St Martin's area and found myself absorbed for quite some time. Lots of interesting old buildings.
Martin is an important name in our family (great great grandfather, grandfather, uncle, cousin....). Recently in the Loire area I have been discovering links with this saint. I visited Candes-St-Martin, a beautiful village at the confluence of the Vienne and the Loire, where he died in about 397. I was staying in Savigny-en-Veron in the camping ground at the time and the local church there had some beautiful ceramics. One showed St Martin being carried through fields of flowers locally after his death. Then today in Tours I found there is a reasonably modern basilica that has been built around his remains which are in the crypt. I arrived there as Mass was in progress in the crypt and stayed above to listen to the beautiful singing, led by some Benedictine (?) nuns who obviously have a lot to do with the basilica. There are a few towers left that are remnants of an original church of St Martin which must have been huge.
By then it was lunchtime and Tours has plenty of places to eat. I was interested to find that without biking all morning, my appetite was quite small compared to the days I have spent 3-4 hours in the saddle! I had a delicious salad with hot potatoes and salmon. I have come to enjoy the combination of salmon and lettuce in a salad in France and am sure I will continue such salads at home.
I next found the Cathedral in Tours today which had some beautiful 12th/13th century stained glass windows. It was in a separate older area from the part where I found St Martin's Basilica and seemed in a 'sideline' sort of position in the town, whereas many Cathedrals still seem to be quite central. Or that was my impression anyhow. It had beautiful soaring arches.
Tours is right on the Loire, but you could almost miss seeing the river as the Loire passes to one side of all the main shopping and Old Town areas. Amboise, where I am presently camping, is quite a contrast in that it sits on a more hilly spot, and all roads lead down to the Loire. The Chateau in Amboise rises majestically above the Loire. And the camping ground sits on the opposite bank, though there are hedges that obstruct some of the view. Camping grounds in the Loire region quite often have these superb spots on riverbanks that give views of old towns. But I guess that is because they also tend to be on flood plains where there is not stopbank protection: the camping grounds are only open for 2, 4 or 6 of the warmer months.
OK time to go. It has warmed up here again and the air-conditioning in the internet cafe has been pleasant but I really have finished now!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

In chateau country again

I took a day retracing my steps largely to get back to Savonnieres. Thought I might spend two nights there and catch a train to Tours one day, but the hour of 7.16am for the train seemed too unsociable so flagged it. Thought I had worked things out so the local restaurant would actually be open when I got there too but found it has a week's annual holidays!
Today I embarked on a bit of a scary ride, making my way through Tours to Amboise. As you can tell, I have arrived safely in one piece! I am not a great fan of getting through big unknown cities with a bike laden with luggage. The Loire by Velo is a wonderful concept, and tracks are really well developed to the West of Tours, but not so much to the east of it. (No doubt this will be addressed.) On my journey downstream to Angers, I had headed south to the Cher and Indre river valleys to bypass Tours, but this time wanted to be more direct as I headed back to the land of the Chateau.
The first bit of the bike track from Savonnieres was lovely as it followed the Cher, and the weather was even cloudy and coolish for a change. First time I have worn my bike jacket for a while. Then I hit Tours and there was a bike track through the middle, but it involved watching for parking cars and pedestrians. It seemed to take forever! Then I had to take a busy main D road out towards Amboise, along the Loire itself. It was quite busy to start with, but less so the closer I got to Amboise. As you see I did arrive in one piece.
I am installed in the camping ground on an island between two branches of the Loire, and look out at the Chateau across the river when I walk into town. After erecting the tent, my first stop was to eat a lunchtime meal as always. Cycling 45km in the morning is always a great way to enjoy some guilt-free eating! It has turned warm again. Maybe not 30+ today, but not far off it. So hiding in an internet cafe with air-conditioning is a great thing to do! The Chateau can wait- I am getting better at siestas, and luckily most camping grounds seem to be well covered with large shady trees. The camping ground here at Amboise is huge, but has plenty of trees.
I will probably take tomorrow off the velo and head across to Blois by train.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

More of St-Mathurin-sur-Loire

OK OK so I know it has been snowing in New Zealand, but it certainly hasn't been doing that here! It got to 33 my day in Angers according to the cycle computer of a Dutch man in the St Mathurin camping ground. This man and his wife are "real" cyclists: they took a plane to Madrid, then a train a short distance out, and have been cycling through Spain all the way back to their home in Holland. They said Spain was pretty hilly for cycling and they have been quite glad to meet the flatter ground here in the Loire. They are making about 100 km/day lately. The same evening there was also another Dutch cyclist with his tent near me: cycling in the Loire is certainly popular with the Dutch this month. I have met many, mostly doing day trips on cycles from a camping-car base.

Yesterday it got to 31 but I got smarter with the heat. I started early and cycled as far as Les Ponts de Cé near Angers (plus a wee detour towards somewhere else when I lost the Loire route: I should know by now that if I stop seeing regular signs I have missed the route!) It was an interesting ride past crops and villages then I took the river route back to St-Mathurin. Although the river road appears as a "main road" on my bigger map it was not really very busy.

Part of the ride was along the old levee (stopbank) that was built centuries ago to give some protection against flooding. You often see marks in villages that record the flood levels from past years, and lots of riverside camping grounds have evacuation plans displayed. The river looks placid enough now in summer, with wide golden sandbanks appearing all the way to Angers, but it obviously has wilder times.

Anyhow, I timed yesterday's ride to get back to St-Mathurin about the time the local restaurant was serving workmen's lunches. I have discovered these are a good way to satisfy cycling legs, and I eat plenty from the salad buffet that is the entree! Then I returned to the camping ground, dragged my sleeping mat out into a shady place, and had a wee siesta. To be honest it was too hot to think of doing anything else. About 3.3O I took a short ride over the river for a few kms, but soon decided it was still too hot and returned to the shade after a cold drink in a village bar. When it was nearly 9pm I walked down to the local bridge and enjoyed walking across it as the sun went down, watching the various currents, and birds. Even in the tent, a silk sleeping sheet has been more than sufficient the last few nights!

The bridge at St-Mathurin is an impressive structure. It was only built in the 50s. The original bridge was destroyed in 1940 to slow the passage of the Germans south. There is a plaque that acknowledges the work of the ferryman who was in the Resistance, who helped many to safety in the unoccupied zone.

I have started returning back towards Orleans today. I started early to avoid the heat and made for as straight a route as possible. I didn't take the detours onto the track around Saumur, partly to save time in the heat, but also because one was almost too steep to contemplate going down with a laden bicycle. Shame as the route past vineyards etc was lovely. I did take a short break to see the church at Cunault and it blew me away. I could almost feel the ancient builders in there constructing it. Only a few frescoes remain so you mainly look at the bare stone. There were some old relics from a saint around with St Martin in the 300s.

This morning it remained cloudy and was even spitting for my cycle ride. I arrived back at Savigny-en-Veron just before lunch, after having a hot chocolate break in Montsoreau. Put up the tent then had a lunch at the restaurant for workmen again. Then the sun came out. But I cycled the 10km to Chinon again to use the internet. Got here and had a cool drink that the barman added extra ice to after one look at me. Sweat pouring off me! Lovely ride here though, and the view of the chateau above Chinon from across the river as you arrive is hard to beat.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


I would have to say that I like the feel of Angers after a day. I might explore more yet, but not today: - it is 29 degrees and humid. I visited the tapestry that everyone has to see here: the Apocalypse Tapestry in the fortress/castle, that dates back to the fourteenth century and is quite remarkable, even for a non-expert. 106 metres in length. Then I went to see some more modern tapestry, in the Musée Jean Lurçat. He has done a modern version of the apocalypse and it has very scary sections with the threat of nuclear war etc. Very powerful to look at. Both worth a day to visit Angers for.
And now I will hop on the train and return to the more rural experience I have been having the last few weeks, back to the camping ground at St-Maturin-sur-Loire, complete with some new cream to help with mosquito bites!

Monday, June 12, 2006


The weather has been really warm for cycling of late!
After Chinon I took the next day to go to the Abbey of Fontevraud on the cycle track from Montsoreau. It must have been a magnificent complex in its day. The cloister was a lovely place to walk around. It was interesting to see the effigies of English royalty in the church, though it raised for me old questions about Christianity and the established power. Lots of cyclists on the trail.
I returned to Montsoreau for a relaxed lunch, then returned the 10km to Savigny along the quiet, tree-ed cycle route, then relaxed in the shade. I discovered that the local Church provided the coolest place to rest a while!
Yesterday I headed further along the Loire, through Saumur, to St-Mathurin-sur-Loire. I am on the right bank now. It was hot humid riding and I was offered a cup of iced water on my arrival at the camping ground. The restaurant where I ate lunch also offered to fill my water bottle so I guess I looked hot and bothered! This is a lovely section of the Loire though, with lots of sandbanks and lots of birdlife. Lots of cyclists as well.
Today I am in an internet cafe in Angers, having taken one of the few daily trains into the city. I was hoping to see the Apocalypse Tapestry but being Monday, I have realised it might be closed!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Internet in Chinon!

OK quite a lot to report but the internet is not thick on the ground where I have been travelling. This morning I am visiting Chinon however, which is a bit bigger than other places I have been so I am using the internet before I explore! Silly really, as I am using up the cooler morning time and will be climbing to the Chateau in the heat of the day!

The weather has been great since June arrived. Long may it continue!

The Monday after Pentecost was treated as a holiday and I decided to have a day off the bike as well. Jour de congé. There was a pilgrilmage in Montrichard, as the church at Nanteuil had a beautiful new statue of John-Paul 2 with Our Lady. It was carved in wood. There was some wonderful singing from some seminarists from St Martin's and a quartet of brass players. A couple of processions and lunch under some trees with trestle tables, French style.

Next day I headed off for I wasn't quite sure where, but keeping south of Tours. I wasn't sure where the next camping grounds were as each tourist area usually only has the booklets for their own area. When you are going sideways across an area you soon reach the end of a tourist area! I ended up in Montbazon, by the river Indre, after a few hills along the way. Montbazon is an interesting old town, but the main highway runs right through the middle of it, destroying the calm somewhat. So even though the campsite was very pleasant right beside the river Indre, I only stayed one night. I am getting better at thinking nothing much at all of a 45km bike ride, especially when it is largely flat!

From Montbazon I collected some pamphlets for the Touraine part of the Loire Velo ride, and a list of Touraine camping grounds, and headed across to Savonnieres. Beautiful new camping ground right beside the River Cher. No restaurant open! But survived quite well from boulangerie and fruit /alimentation shop. There were some College pupils here with a group of teachers and I enjoyed their company in the evening. I would have loved the pasta and salad they threw out for my dinner but wasn't quite brash enough to admit I hadn't eaten properly!
It was warm in the afternoon but I took the cycle path along the Loire which had a bit of a breeze and had lots of people using it. Went to the gardens at Villandry. Unique. The decoration in the gardens is huge and very interesting to contemplate from above. I then continued along to see the confluence of the River Cher and the River Loire. I had grown quite fond of the River Cher beside my campsite in Montrichard and was a bit sad to see it disappear. On the way back I made a visit to the caves near Savonnieres. Seeing the way calcite was deposited was fascinating, and the tour guide was very animated, but the tour was a bit long with the commercial selling bits of their stone-objects. Good choice of a place to hide out though, a cave at 14 degrees when outside it is in the high 20s.
Next morning I took to the road with baggage again along the Loire River path. Travelled just past the turn off for the Chateau at Rigny-Ussé, where the bike path became unsealed and a bit rough looking so I took to a few quiet roads. Took me a little while to find the cycle track again at Avoine, but was soon in the superb campsite at Savigny-en-Veron. Not much else in this village though. Boulangerie was closed for the day. Finally found a restaurant serving mainly men's lunches. Made sure I had a heap of potatoes etc from the buffet! (Today I plan to eat up large at lunchtime in Chinon! - and yes I am losing some weight - a combo of all the cycling and the way French eating places have limited opening hours, especially in the villages and small towns!)
In the afternoon I went to see Candes-St-Martin which a French person had told me was a must-see. It is a beautiful village, and you can climb to the top of a hill to get a viewpoint of the confluence of the River Loire and the River Vienne. You also get a good view lower down beside the banks of the Vienne. The rivers stay their separate colours and don't blend straight off. The church there is St Martin's and this is where St Martin died back in 397 so it has been an important place of pilgrimage in the past.
Now I am in Chinon. From what I have seen it still has quite a large medieval section and it lies on the River Vienne. I have been using the internet though, and next I am going to go in search of a large guilt-free cyclists' lunch! Then I will see Chinon! Till next time! And yes, all you kiwis; I hope you are all surviving the cold back home!

Sunday, June 04, 2006


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!

Montrichard on the Cher

Today I have arrived in Montrichard on the River Cher, and I am glad to report that summer has also arrived!
I am getting a lot more confident on the bike everyday and feel fitter. The 1cm to 1km maps are my guidebooks and I have enjoyed working out some lovely routes using them.
From Beaugency I went to Bracieux which is very handy to the chateaux of both Chambord and Cheverny. The camping ground at Bracieux was twice the price of others I have stayed at but I thought the toilets etc were comparable to what I have had elsewhere. The extra cost is for the summer facilities like the pool which is not open yet! The whole area around there is very well organised for cycle tourists and there is a map accompanying various itineraries which take cyclists onto safe quiet roads and some special cycle tracks. They have been well thought out and cover a variety of landscapes and pass through villages etc. Lots of Dutch people are in the area at present with bikes on the back of their camper vans, taking day trips. Also some large organised groups taking advantage of good cycling country. It was a bit of a shock to arrive in bus-tourist land at Chambord after quite a few days of wending my way through villages and country landscapes.
Brilliant weather here today and hope it continues!