A bike ride from Paris to Brittany, along the Seine, the Loire and the Nantes - Brest Canal. Summer 2011 - Day 3
Olivet (Orléans) - Amboise. 107 km, beautiful hot weather !
Very easy cycling: flat all the way. One just has to follow the river !
Departure from Olivet around 8.30 for a pleasant ride through the South-West suburbs of Orléans. The cycle path weaves its way through orchards, soja fields, small clusters of trees and finally ends up at the mouth of the Loiret river, where it joins up with the Loire..
The road then follows the river, running on top of dikes that have been built to handle the very unpredictable moods of the waters below. "La Loire à Vélo" (The Loire by bicycle) is the name of this superb ride that is part of the EV6, starting on the Atlantic coast and running all the way to the Black Sea.
The sign-posting is excellent, except maybe when approaching Blois and through Tours.
The path takes the cyclist along narrow roads -some of which are shared with the odd car or tractor- through small forests and passes near beautiful sights, all the time running on asphalt or compacted sand and gravel tracks.
Very often, the trees give way to lovely views of the lazy river, to the many sand banks, the fauna, flora and to the riverside areas of some of the extraordinary towns sprinkled along the Loire.
Short stop in Meung sur Loire for a quick visit of the town and a stamp in my log book and continuation on the right bank to Beaugency, under very blue skies and a very hot sun !
Interesting "variable arch" bridge. Lovely town with its huge square tower called "Caesar's tower".
Magic little chapel on the edge of the road, just after Tavers on the outskirts of Lestiou.
Avaray: A sign mentions the local grocery/restaurant. The very idea of being able to sit in the shade and enjoy a beer steered the bike right up to the village center where the bistro is located. Regardless of the proximity of the Saint-Laurent atomic power station, a steak and fries still seemed more appealing than canned tuna-fish sandwiches !
The afternoon was spent on various paths and other tracks. In Muides sur Loire, it is possible to cross the river for a diversion to Chambord via the left bank. I chose to stay on the right bank and continued along paths that, at one stage, became pretty poorly signposted.
In Ménars, I ended up on National Road 152, (N152). The remaining kilometers to Blois were terribly unpleasant due to the very dense traffic, the heat, and the ugliness of the outskirts of Blois.
After crossing the river there, I was about to continue on the left bank when I was suddenly brought down by the indications read on the "Loire à Vélo" sign. It read: Amboise 42 km !!!
Just couldn't believe it. And the wind had started picking up...
Aeolus was now wide awake and full of hot headwind... and the cyclist's legs were shot !
Kilometer after kilometer I reached Candé sur Beuvron after having to accept a long detour because of a local Summer fair in a remote village between Chailles and Candé. They'd closed the road to ALL vehicles, including bicycles, and there was no preferential treatment for anyone! Bull-headed bastards !!
After downing a Coke outside a bakery and filling the water bottles, I got back on the bike and hit the road for the remaining kilometers. I finally reached Amboise at 7.00PM after cycling 7h and 20 minutes.... Totally stupid !!
The castle on the hillside was magnificent in the late afternoon light, but not enough to stop me for pictures. I just wanted to get to the camp grounds located on the "Ile d'Or" an island in the middle of the river.Pictures would have to wait for the morning...
The welcome office staff were very pleasant but the campground itself was pretty dreary with its alignments of trees, so close together and shady that there was hardly any grass underneath... Definitely not an experience to repeat !
Tent installed; shower, shower, shower.... Couldn't be bothered to cook anything. It was already getting dark.
After an "evening meal" consisting of apple sauce, a yoghourt, a coke and a bottle of water, I finally collapsed in the tent for what I hoped would be a good night's sleep.