Day 6: Sunday 10th May
La Baule – Le Migron 60km
After riding past Flintstones style architecture and along the promenade of La Baule (think Brighton in the UK) it was time to undertake the first big challenge of the trip – the enormous bridge at St Nazaire. Cycling over the bridge was a hair-raising experience with all traffic (including ourselves) merging into one lane at the peak and bridge joints big enough to grab a bike tyre. Fortunately all went well.
The view back past the bridge to the north bank of the river revealed the industrial heart of St Nazaire with cruise liners being welded together at the wharves.
The mouth of the Loire marked the start of Eurovelo 6 and our journey eastwards. There was no signage to greet us so after a brief stop we turned our back on the Atlantic and headed inland.
A massive lightning storm forced us off the road mid-afternoon. We pushed east until cold overtook us and we sought the refuge of a closed municipal campsite for a hot soup (go the cooker!) and a nights rest.
Day 7: Monday 11th May
Le Migron – Ancenis 84km
An early start in light rain turned into a marathon and it took until midday to find a open shop serving something edible for breakfast. Plenty of pubs open with locals enjoying a pint at 9am but no food! The route itself along the canal was nice. The first ferry across the river was closed (without signage) due to a light breeze (French unions?) so some detouring was required to find the second ferry to Nantes. Nantes itself was uninspiring being an old port city.
After passing several closed campsites we talked to a local who confirmed our fears – most municipal campgrounds (the campgrounds marked on our map) only open 1 June (for reference municipal sites are run by local government and are typically very basic). The continued presence of the Gendarmerie put paid to any thought of sneaking into a closed site. Eventually we made it to a nice campsite in Ancenis where we gorged ourselves on carbohydrates and limped off to bed.
Day 8: Tuesday 12th May
No biking today! Instead it was time to learn to walk again after a hard week of riding.
The campsite washer/dryer got our gear back to square one. In Brittany we had been washing clothes each morning and drying them on the back of the bikes but a couple of days’ worth of rain had run through our reserves.
Day 9: Wednesday 13th May
Ancenis – Angers 45km
Long straight farm roads lead for easy riding. At lunch-time Mark had the first puncture of the trip. We discovered the rear wheel was not a quick-release type but managed an easy repair without removing wheel. It was a real effort getting back up to 58psi using the mini-pump but it was worth the trouble for fast rolling. Spanner is next on the shopping list!
During the afternoon we travelled along a 10km island in the Loire. Later on towards Angers we were hit by the biggest storm yet – marble sized hail stones, public drains becoming geysers, and a sound and light show that would put Pink Floyd to shame.
After setting up camp we rode the unloaded bikes to the shops. The bikes go like rockets without the luggage and we finally made use of the top gear set. We visited yet another Instersport to fix Susan’s pannier rack but no luck – this one didn’t even sell bikes. Half a cooked chicken and a good bottle of Brittany cider put us in better spirits back at camp.
Angers marked the end of this chapter of the trip and the beginning of the middle Loire with its many chateaux.