Sunday, July 24, 2016

Loire a Velo; Chaumont-Sur-Loire to Savonnieres

My usual early start from Chaumont-sur-Loire and not an open cafe to be found in the town. I skipped the chateau visit but it was a nice place to camp.

So now it is Saturday, and I'm cycling through these small villages and some stretches where there are modern housing developments, and I decide it must be Saint Cut-the-Hedges Day because that's what everyone seems to be doing. I'd be quite happy cutting my hedge if I lived here, and I'd offer cold water to the passing cyclists and give them vegetables from my garden.

Wait, I want to live HERE

No, forget the hedges, I want a house with dormer windows

Amboise is the next biggish town. Leonardo da Vinci spent the last years of his life here at Le Clos Lucé. The Royal Chateau of Amboise is an expensive one to visit, 12 euros. I opted for lunch in a tiny restaurant and tea rooms on the side of the hill.

The camp ground is on an island in the river. At the office - this conversation all in French - I learned that there was a music festival over the weekend.

She said the music would be going until maybe 3.00 am. In fact it was still going when I had my morning coffee and croissant in the campground cafe on my way off on Sunday morning. After days like these I'd sleep through anything.

Sundays in France can be a bit dreary with everything closed up, but Amboise has a wonderful market along the riverbanks. Farm produce, ethnic foods, even a bit of brocantes (antiques and junk).
Amboise, views from where I had lunch

Arriving on the island where the camp is.

From the island, looking back to the Chateau Amboise
Only 28 km to Tours, and I was there by lunch time. Some images from the route follow.

In the midst of acres of vineyards, a church on a small hill

And now Tours.
The Tours Cathedral. Bits go back to the 4th century 

Cathedral built during 12th to 15th centuries

Just the Tours Prefecture 

I got to see quite a bit of the suburbs of Tours, more than I wanted to actually. I missed a Velo Route pointer somewhere. Followed marked cycle paths through a large park, past the university, over a couple of bridges that might have crossed the Loire, or was it some other river? and through another park past a lake or two. An hour later and lots of google maps look-ups, getting more and more confused about which way my location pointer on the map was pointing and how that correlated to the way I was heading, I came to the realisation that I here I was going through the same carpark with this same children's playground that I'd ridden past ages earlier. You could say, well, I wasn't exactly lost. The maps told me exactly where I was, only thing is they did not tell me where to go next.

I just didn't know which way to go. Cycle paths in all directions, but where WAS that Velo Route? Google doesn't show it at all. I gave up on cycle paths and took to the roads where at least there were some signs reassuring me that I would be heading towards Saumur. I asked a few people and enjoyed being able to ask and get directions in French, and followed a bit of a shortcut past a gypsy camp. Not so reassuring. But after about 5 km I finally picked up the route again. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Camped in a tiny little place at Savonnieres where there are caves that you can visit, though I didn't. But there was an interesting deli attached to the caves visitor centre, and I made the best picnic meal ever - chorizo and olive bread, with salty tapenade and feta in herby garlic oil and a bag of mixed salad greens.

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