Foragers delight…

And then there was the day we gorged on fresh figs, dug up a few carrots, picked some mustard greens and zucchini, and then came upon the best apple orchard ever…

IMG_5385

We really needed a trailer!

Advertisements

Le Fin du Veloroute!

Yes, we are nearing the end of the cycling portion of our trip.   Although today here in Angers the sun was shining, there was a cold wind blowing down the Maine River.  We were busy organizing ourselves as we will be shipping the bicycles back to Hilversum from Tours.   We posted a small box of cycling gear today to Hilversum and bought our train tickets through to Narbonne in the South of France.  The rest of the day we toured some of the local sights…it is a very lovely city!

IMG_5370IMG_5372

We have had some excellent riding in the past few days…breaking away from the Loire Valley which was actually quite foggy for most of the days.  Instead we explored the countryside which is up at about 50 to 70 metres higher in elevation, just enough that the sun shines on quiet roads, through farms, orchards, vineyards and deciduous forests.  The foliage is still surprisingly green with patches of yellow and reds and golds.  And still plenty of flowers blooming….we cycled by an amazing field full of colourful dahlias!

IMG_5358IMG_5361IMG_5362IMG_5363IMG_5344IMG_5360

We stayed for a night in the town of Beaulieu which is built into the side of a cliff….through caves and narrow streets…most of the houses are built right into the side of the cliff with great views overlooking the Loire….and of course, more Chateaux!

IMG_5346
The Castle at Saumur

We just got back after a beautiful stroll taking in the shimmering moonlight on the Maine River!

 

The Detour tour of Tours!

After our previous day of getting de-toured into the burbs of Tours, I decided to take a look at an alternate route to completely bypass the detour into Tours.  With Pocket Earth on my side, I managed to find some quiet side roads, the first part, not exactly what you would call scenic, as it was a lot of train tracks on one side and industry on the other but after a couple of kilometres we found our way to a lovely bike path along the Cher River which led us into a huge island park with all kinds of hard packed trails for running, walking and cycling.  From there it was a piece of cake and into the countryside we went mostly following the Cher River.


Hey, they even play Disc Golf in France!


And then we came upon this very old Mill dating back to the 1500’s, still standing and had been in operation up until 1973!


Well, it was all pretty smooth until…the next big hill


Once at the top, it was fun again as we rode through fields and a lovely deciduous forest with a few gently rolling hills.  After a quick stop for groceries we carried on to our Gite just past Azay-le-Rideau right on the banks of the Indre River.   Wow!  What a house and what a fabulous property.


I was pretty happy that we had booked it for 2 nights.  Today we went for a beautiful hike up the hills through the forest into the vineyards and orchards stopping to munch on apples and grapes with views across the valley….we even spotted a Chateau from the top.


Found these very delicate looking flowers..I think maybe Cyclamens? 

Orléans

A very lovely city on the Loire and extremely easy to negotiate by bicycle especially since our accomodation was only a block off the bike path and a few steps from the ‘old’ town.  Lots of pedestrian only cobbled streets….many university students made the atmosphere quite lively…and one of the most spectacular cathedrals I have seen, second only to the Basilica in Cologne.

IMG_5279
The abbey across the street from our hotel

The next 2 days of riding took us through Muides-Sur-Loire where we had an apartment/laundry layover day and a day ride to the Chambord Chateau.  Then on to Blois along the River.

IMG_5304

.. It was  a cloudy and ‘on-the-nose’ windy day as we started a steep climb away from the river…the scenery changed abruptly at the top to a huge flat plateau where there were vineyards, but sadly, no grapes to munch on!  We were fairly weary of the hilly terrain when we finally reached our apartment in Candé-Sur-Beuvron (with a stop at the boulangerie for croissants!)  Another very lovely and quiet apartment for the night and a lovely after dinner stroll under a clear starry night along the Beuvron River.

IMG_5306
Strawberries in October!
IMG_5303
Bouquet of the day!
image1
This gardener has some imagination and a lot of time on their hands!

image1

 

 

The next day was more up and down thru vineyards…but this time we actually found some sweet, juicy purple grapes!!!  What a treat!  Today was a foragers dream…we also tasted some delicious sweet apples and picked up a couple dozen walnuts along the way that the crows/ravens hadn’t got to yet!  The city of Amboise was crazy busy with tourists!  The schools here in France are closed for these 2 weeks and there are lots of tourist attractions in Amboise…museums and Chateaux!  There was also a big outdoor market going on!

 

We carried on through a bit of drizzle and more headwinds and an unexpected detour to finally arrive at our apartment in a suburb of Tours at La Ville aux Dames!

 

 

Les Chateaux

In Sully-sur-Loire we arrived in time for a picnic by our first Chateau…another gorgeous riding day!

IMG_5270IMG_5271

Today we visited one of the most popular Chateaux of the Loire…Chambord…which was ridiculously ‘over-the-top’!  Apparently the Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast, fashioned the Beast’s castle after this one.  King Francis I wanted the designers to have the castle resemble the skyline of Constantinople.  By the way, he only used the place about 7 weeks total per year as a hunting lodge but brought along his entourage of 2,000 every time he visited.

IMG_5289IMG_5290IMG_5291

 

Dimanche(Sunday) en France

Basically, everything shuts down…bakeries, butchers, tourist offices….the grocery stores are open until 12:30…then it’s all over.   Sooo, our usual routine of stopping at a grocery store on the way to our accomodation to pick up dinner (salad fixings, roasted chicken, if we’re lucky, veggies, cheese, chocolate, nuts, yogurt and fruit for breakfast) gets disrupted somewhat.  On a few occasions we have managed to find restaurants that are open, but sometimes even they are closed!!!!  Some of  the  really small villages don’t even have a restaurant!  The last small village where we stayed in a lovely Chambre d’Hote in Ousson-sur-Loire we ended up riding our bikes about 2 kms to the nearest restaurant for dinner.  It wouldn’t have been half as exciting if half the ride had not been on a very busy highway and if we didn’t have to ride home in the pitch dark!!!  I felt very lucky that our new bicycles had come equipped with a headlight and rear lights!  It was all fun when it was downhill into our village and we were safely home in bed!

IMG_5276
The village of Ousson….so small you can barely see it!

IMG_5245

IMG_5246
The bouquet of the day…scented flox