A bike ride from Paris to Brittany, along the Seine, the Loire and the Nantes-Brest Canal. Day 5
Saumur - Ingrandes 92km
Slow start in the morning since everything had to be folded and packed. The tent was just about dry, the over-shoes not quite.
By 9.30AM Rock'n'Roll was finally on the road, heading West towards the center of Saumur.
Quick stop at the Tourist office located near the bridge for a stamp in my log book and to purchase a couple of "Eurovelo 6" maps, mine having been ruined by the rain yesterday.
The "cycle path" passed through many villages along the river, some very neat, others in pretty poor condition. Lots of houses built using tufa, a low grade limestone dug out of the cliffs overhanging the Loire in the area. The resulting excavations are now used as restaurants or cellars where tourists can come and try the wines produced by local wine growers.
The rain started mid morning as a very penetrating drizzle. On leaving Saint Mathurin sur Loire it got worse, compelling me to find shelter under two very big sequoia trees that were stuck in the middle of nowhere.
A cyclist from Switzerland joined me. He was on his way back to Zurich. The wretched weather was the same for the two of us, but he at least enjoyed tail winds.
After a while we realized that there would not be any immediate improvement so we decided to move on. Soon the rain got worse. In La Dagueunière it got so bad that I ended up sheltering in a phone booth for over half an hour. Just opposite, a stela commemorated a national plowing contest that had put the village on the map.
Big deal on a rainy day !!
For me there would be no picnic today. A worker's lunch (menu ouvrier) in the local café was a far better option.
The weather forecast on the TV was depressing: no improvement foreseen for the time being !
Back on the road heading West into the rain and wind: Angers, Bouchemaine, Savennières, La Possonnière, Le Port Girault.... Just had to follow the river... At one stage I even passed by Saint Germain des Prés !
In Montjean sur Loire the cycle path changed sides and continued on top of the dike on a narrow road shared with the occasional car or tractor.
Rain and wind were in full control of the skies.
The target for the day was Ancenis but I'd had enough and decided to stop in Ingrandes sur Loire, twenty kilometers up-stream from the initial destination.
I'd just have to do better tomorrow !
The Loire was grey and depressing. Tied here and there, a few flat barges topped with their dark deck-huts added another sinister note to the low skies of the late afternoon.
No camping tonight ! Too wet !
Just opposite Ingrandes, The Logis de France hotel was full but the owner found me a Bed and Breakfast on the other side of the river, in Ingrandes proper.
Lovely guest house run by Madame Lamour who is accredited by the "Loire à Vélo" organization. Make sure to book in advance ! (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Rock'n'Roll was parked in the basement near two large heating-oil tanks that were chained to the wall. My Landlady explained to me that some time ago, the Loire flooded her basement and floated the two half-empty tanks down the river. Now that they were tied to the wall it should'nt happen again !
All my soaking gear was unpacked and hung to dry. Madame Lamour even ran a load in her washing-machine, promising that everything would be dry by the time I took off in the morning ! (no extra charge !)
The room was superb; so was the balcony view over the river. Pity that the weather was so awful !
There was no 'table d'hôte' at the guest house. The only option was a restaurant somewhere down town or the Logis de France on the other side of the river.
The owner of the latter had been kind enough to find a room for me so I decided that his "Poisson d'Argent" restaurant had to be the obvious choice.
The rain had finally stopped.
It took me 10 minutes to walk the 540m bridge to the restaurant but only 2 minutes to run back, trying to minimize another demonstration of Mother Nature's unlimited powers....