One of the many wonderful things about the Loire à Vélo is that the route is designed to take the rider past all of the special places along the route. It detours into small towns and passes the historic buildings of note in each town. We are often surprised to find some unique place, without the any effort required to find it. The Loire à Vélo finds it for us.
Yesterday, we happened upon the church in Candes-Saint-Martin which is one of the pilgrim stops on the Way of St. Martin. The Way of St. Martin is a pilgrimage similar to but less well known than the Way of St. James. Saint Martin died in the village of Candes in the fourth century and his remains are entombed in the church. A complete surprise to us.
Today, we are detoured into Cunault with its 12th century church. The design of the church allows for the noon-day sun on summer solstice to shine directly on the alter. It’s remarkable to think of the architects of the 12th century incorporating this into the church’s design.
The rest of the route detoured through local forests and then through abandoned slate quarries which now are part of an urban park just outside Angers, which was our destination for the day.
At one point, the route crossed a small creek. Instead of a bridge, a small ferry links the shores. A chain runs from shore to shore attached to the ferry. To pull the ferry across the creek, one need only to pull on the chain. A very functional alternative to a bridge.
Our lunch stop turned out to be another delightful, cultural surprise. Touring through the town of La Daguenière, we found the local boulangerie was closed. Looking for a restaurant, we saw a traffic jam of work trucks parked outside a small restaurant. It was bustling at 1:30 with workmen enjoying their lunch. It seemed like a good recommendation to us. Who needs the Michelin Guide or Lonely Planet recommendations when the restaurant is full of locals? Lunch was indeed superb.
In spite of our confidence that it is impossible to get lost on the Loire à Vélo, today, we did. Finding ourselves in the outskirts of Angers, we somehow ended up off the route. Luckily, European cities are easy to navigate. Major intersections are marked with signage to the train station, the tourist office and the hotel districts. They also have an abundance of bike lanes, even on the busiest streets. Following the tourist office signs, we eventually found our way.
Here are some other photo highlights of today.