Day 10: Thursday 14th May
Angers – Gennes 52km
Persistent drizzle greeted us in the morning so we made use of camp internet to update the blog. After a midday start we blitzed the first 20km of riding.
Quiet farm roads and fields of flowers led us along the river. After passing through some great little towns on the river we arrived at a cheap and cheerful campsite on the riverside. Omelettes with fresh vegetables were enjoyed as we conversed with the first cycle-tourers we have met on the trip – a French couple from St Nazaire.
Day 11: Friday 15th May
Gennes – Montsoreau 45km
After waiting out a morning storm we broke camp and followed quiet but hilly roads to the town of Saumur.
We have been passing sporadic patches of vines since arriving on the Loire but the road into Saumur contained some of the first big wine caves. We were easily distracted at the first cave and after parting with 1.50 Euro each we enjoyed a self-guided tour of the old Ackerman wine caves. The tour was fairly typical with an impressive cave complex and a few token displays on the art of wine making. Commercial wine making and storage had moved into a factory and warehouse complex a while back. Eight samples of wine later we fare welled the steward (who has just got his working holiday visa for NZ) stumbled out to our bikes and went in search of some lunch to sober up.
Decathlon in Samur sported a large range of goods and we invested in spandex, spanners, aluminium dinner plates, a chain breaker tool and some chain oil. Susan bought bike shoes to replace her ailing London slip-ons. In the afternoon we crossed town and visited Intersport where, after explaining that we could not wait for tomorrow, Susan had her bike brake cable replaced and dynamo fixed in an hour. Great to have warranty on the continent.
After riding up through town we cycled around Saumur castle before heading east past cave dwellings and more vines. That night we camped again next to the river.
Day 12: Saturday 16th May
Montsoreau – Amboise 115km
More rain in the morning so we decided to push forward. Biking through forests and along stock banks was pleasant enough, with drizzle making us damp but not soaking our shoes (a true measure of the weather).
We detoured slightly to visit Usse, an impressive chateau about 1km back from the river, where we munched on Baguette and salami in the rain for lunch.
The afternoon was spent with easy riding on the stock banks and we held to 20km/hr. for the most part. Glimpses of chateaux through the trees marked our arrival on the outskirts of Tour. A Foule (Nuttella wrap) from a market gave us the energy to check out another Intersport and get the bent pannier beaten back into place (despite being the most common pannier we have seen riding our one is very elusive to find parts for).
That evening we rode through sodden vineyards to arrive exhausted at Amboise for the night.
Day 13: Sunday 17 May
Amboise – Chambord 76km
A coffee and croissant in town warmed us up and after wandering the tourist shops we resumed our trip. The trail was poorly marked so after a modest effort of finding the way we resorted to the main road out of town.
A lunch of sausages, frites and pomme tarte was found in a local market. Early afternoon was spent dodging escargots on the back roads to Blois. Mark was keen to sample the local delicacy but Susan’s logic (don’t eat road kill) prevailed and the snails of Cande-sur-Beuvor were safe for another day.
Blois had an impressive river frontage but with storms looming we keep rolling towards Chambord. After hiding from a thunderstorm in Chambord forest we were treated to a vista of the chateau, complete with rainbow and a panorama of camera-toting tourists.
A brief evening ride to nearby chateau camping and a dip in the luke-warm spa capped off a great day. We watched the evening arrive and a bat joined us as we sat listening to the noises of the forest.
Day 14: Monday 18th May
Rest day. We enjoyed the delights of expensive (25 euro/night) but plush chateau camping including internet, pool, and long hot showers.
Day 15: Tuesday 19th May
Chambord – Chateauneuf 81km
Late start on a grey day. Pushed passed a power plant for an early pizza lunch from a chap in a caravan who looked like Elvis.
Slow progress on poor tracks was compounded by another busted pannier coupling (we have created a workable solution using cable-ties) and a flat tyre.
Sunny afternoon on stock banks. We kept moving through the miss-able city of Orleans to camp on the riverside at Chateauneuf. The evening sun was a great change from rain and thunderstorms.
Chateauneuf marked the end of the touristy stretch of the Loire. Continued drizzle, punctuated by thunderstorms, dampened our spirits slightly on this stretch – nobody likes biking in wet cycle pants.