Today, we say au revoir to the Loire River and the Loire à Vélo. We have covered a lot of terrain in six days – 422 kilometres. It has been a learning experience.
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.
About five or six years ago, I traveled with my sister-in-law Tannis to France. Our home base was a small town near Chinon called Cinais. As part of our trip, Tannis and I toured some of the châteaux that Dennis and I are visiting this week. Of course, Tannis and I went by car. She was the driver. I was the navigator. It’s been a peculiar experience, this week retracing some of our journey, but this time on a bike.
This post will arrive in your mailbox a little bit later than usual. I like to write at night before I go to bed but we were home late last night from the best meal we have had in France. Recommended by our hotelier, L’Oceanic in Chinon gets five stars in our books. I would love to tempt and entice you with lovely photos of our meal, but apparently, being a food photographer is harder than one might think. My meal started with a beautifully flavored crab bisque. I can tell you that the photos I took of it and the main course didn’t do them justice.
Leaving the Loire River for the day, we head south to the Cher River. Following one of the châteaux cycling routes, we toured Château Chenonceau, which oddly enough is in the town of Chenonceaux. I wonder why the château and the town names are not spelled the same. I have yet to find the answer to this question.
Today was a lovely, relaxing day of riding. The weather was warm and the wind was gentle as we travelled from Blois to Amboise along the La Loire à Vélo trail. The ride, at 50 kilometers, was thankfully, shorter than yesterday. Our ride was a mix of riverside trails, through forests, vineyards, and farm land; a bit of everything this area has to offer. We met some fellow Canadians and road along with them for a time, swapping stories and tips for the trip.
Today was the first full day on the bike and it was a spectacular day! We are riding La Loire à Vélo trail system which follows the Loire River from its start near Nevers to the Atlantic Ocean, though we started midway along the route in Orléans. In total, the trail is an 800 kilometre cycle tourism route.
Orléans is a beautiful city, with a compact but well maintained historical center.
One needs spend little time in Orléans to see the cultural significance of Joan of Arc. Known as Jeanne d’Arc in France, she is a national hero and was canonized as a Catholic saint in 1920. Not wanting to sound like a history dissertation, these are some of the highlights of her life. At the age of 13, in 1425, Joan began to hear voices, which commanded her to go and help the uncrowned French King Charles VII battle the English in the Hundred Years’ War. The city of Orléans had been under siege by the English and Joan of Arc was instrumental in lifting the siege after nine days. In 1430, she was captured by English allies and handed over to the English. She was tried, found guilty, and burned at the stake in 1431, at the age of 19. She is celebrated every year in May in Orléans. These photos represent just some of the commemorations of her here. She is a fascinating women of French history.
We made it! I must be getting a little more accustomed to airline travel because usually an overseas flight feels very long and arduous but, honestly, today wasn’t too bad. We arrived in Paris at 8:30 a.m. and caught the train to Orléans soon after. By 2:30, we had checked into our hotel. Originally, we had planned to unbox our bikes at the Paris airport, thinking it would be easier to wheel them around than carry the boxes. In the end, the airport seemed too hectic and we took them boxed on the train. It was a bit of a struggle (for Dennis) but in the end it was the right decision. Dennis could leisurely get the bikes set up in the courtyard of our hotel, rather than the mayhem of the airport.
While Dennis struggled with the bikes, I had a nap. Perfect solution, I think!