A bike ride from Paris to Brittany, along the Seine, the Loire and the Nantes - Brest Canal. Summer 2011. Day 4
Amboise - Saumur 97 km.
Torrential rains during the morning. Clear to sunny in the afternoon.
Poor sleep due to non-stop rain on the tent and to very noisy English youngsters who'd obvioulsy taken a liking to some of the local wines. The cherry on the cake was a loud band celebrating the 10-year Anniversary of the local canoe club, on the other side of the river..
Fortunately, around 8.00 AM the rain stopped long enough to fold the wet tent and put eveything away. Quick visit to the Carrefour Market on the way out of Ambroise to buy some food for the day. More rain....
Breakfast stop: an attempt to park the bike under the awning of a café next door to the little supermarket ended in a shouting session with the owner who had decided that I should leave it elswhere.
Screw you, fascist pig ! I'll spend my breakfast money somewhere else !
By then, the heavens had split wide open: the rain was torrential.
I pushed Rock'n'roll into a nearby bus stop and unpacked the full rain gear. Dressed in waterproof jacket, pants and rain shoes I got back on the road, heading West alongside the river.
The day was truly miserable. The water came from all directions: from above mainly, but also from the left each time a car or truck passed me. Arriving in Montlouis sur Loire, I spotted a road-side café and decided that breakfast was long overdue.
The owner thought that I had just surfaced from the depths of the river... Couldn't believe that someone would be mad enough to be out riding on a bike in such weather. His coffee and 'tartines' hit the right spot. After stamping my log book, he wished me good luck ... he had seen the weather forecast, not me !
The rain came down non-stop right through the morning and into the early afternoon. All types of rain: drizzle, showers, downpours... All of it nice and wet and cold.
Depressing transit through Tours where I managed to get lost due to some confusion in the signposting. On the West side of the city I nearly ended-up entering a 4-lane and had to do some tricky back-tracking to find the way onwards. Continuation on the left bank via Savonnières and Villandry.
Bréhémont, 2.10 PM: the Flood ! No room under the tarp roof of the arbour opposite the village restaurant, already packed with other unfortunate cyclists. Desperate to find a dry place, I managed to squeeze bike and rider right up against the church door that offered very basic protection against the elements. Everything was wet and dripping. The rain had even soaked the maps inside the plastic sleeve on my handlebar bag..
After a while it turned into drizzle, allowing all of us to resume our respective journeys, the 'arbour gang' heading Eastward and me Westward to Saumur.
Approaching Chinon, I had no real desire to visit the city so I just continued along the river.
The chosen route led me past the big pressure-cookers of the Chinon atomic power plant. Two doses a few days apart: no better way to end up with your teeth glowing at night.
The weather finally got its act together, with the sun even coming out. Passed through Candes St Martin and Montsoreau : two small cities well worth a visit.
At this stage, the official "Loire à Vélo" route climbs up into the vinyards that overlook the river, making its way to Saumur in bucolic surroundings. I chose to stay below and continue on the direct road.
Just before reaching Beaulieu on the East side of Saumur, a large sign mentioned the Greenwich Meridian : Longitude 0°. The locals don't seem to be as sectarian as the motorway people to whom I had written some time before, asking them why this important geographic feature could not be signposted on their network.
They wrote back saying that it was the ministry of transport that made the decision on what was allowed... The truth, as far as I'm concerned, is that it is probably just another rear-guard battle of the "Paris Meridian" lobby. (cf. la Meridienne Verte...)
In Beaulieu, I discovered the most incredible 'Chambre d'hôte' ! A former château that Mary and Connor, its delightful Irish owners have completely refurbished. I was offered the Louis XIIth suite, three rooms furnished with exquisite taste.
Rock'n'roll had his own room: the owners' garage which was rapidly turned into a drying room: the tent, rain clothes, bags and other soaking equipment spread all over the place, in an attempt to get everything dry before morning.
Ok, the price was € 100 for the night with breakfast, but I just could not see myself setting up the wet tent and having to sleep in the damp bag... and, it was Sunday.... if I needed another justification...
Other clothes ended up hanging to dry from the various window knobs and the shower rails. My shoes, packed with kleenex, enjoyed the last rays of afternoon sunshine, sitting on the window sill.
The 'table d'hôte' dinner was superb and pleasantly accompanied by the many stories that Mary and Connor shared with their guests.
After wishing everybody "good night", I finally retired to my sleeping quarters, happy to spend the night in my dry, four-poster bed !