Sunday, July 24, 2016

Big day on the Loire featuring not one but two chateaux

For my first day on the Loire I rode 10 k on the wrong side of the river before reaching a little place called Meung-Sur-Loire where I finally picked up the Velo Route. An early start on busy roads then bouncing along tracks through corn fields and whizzing along a fairly major road, I enjoyed that first cup of coffee.

Usually in the small towns and villages the only place for coffee is a useful shop called a tabac. Basically a bar, selling newspapers and cigarettes. If you want something to eat with your coffee, BYO is perfectly acceptable. I'd buy a croissant or two at a nearby boulangerie, plug in my phone, grab the free local newspaper and linger over my breakfast eavesdropping on the conversations at the bar. I could get what they were talking about, but as for the detail, lost on me.

For 9 euros I visited the Château de Meung, called the château of two faces because it has both medieval and classical façades. From the front gate it all towers and castle walls, but from the other side it is a grand mansion.

It was the prestigious residence of the bishops of Orléans until the French revolution. Inside, the rooms were set up to show what life would have been like during the Middle Ages. I listened in, french lesson of the day, as a group of school kids, probably six year olds, were being told all about the bedroom behaviours of the time. Great hysteria about the chamber pots and shared beds. I bet they loved the dungeons too. I did.

That ticket also covered the chateau in the next town, Beaugency. It has a very romantic tower room with fabulous views out over the river valley, said to be where the resident knight entertained Jeanne herself from time to time. I could well imagine!

Beaugency has a lovely motto it has kept over the centuries: Manibus date lilia plenis, which translates as “give handfuls of flowers”.

Stone age men and woman were here. The Gauls were here, and built in the early 12th century the bridge over the Loire. The English were here too - until Joan of Arc kicked them out.
These are in Meung - statue of Joan of Arc in front of the tower.

Now me, riding right on out of town to a campsite down river at Muides. Pitching my tent and rolling along to the pub up the street for a well-earned beer.
This was the first campsite where I came across other cyclists. The couple next to me were French-speaking Belgians with little English.

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