Forest Row Bike Club

Ride Report

Loire Valley Tour - 2010

Wednesday 2nd & 3rd June

This morning Graham and I met up with Christine and Fred for our journey from Newhaven to Dieppe. We had a good trip across the water and then drove to Chartres for the night. The weather was gorgeous and we were jolly glad to arrive at our hotel and get parked. We all had a good meal at the hotel and then went walking around Chartres following a sort of 'Son-et-Lumineres' that was organised against some of the famous buildings. It was really lovely to see them all lit up with coloured pictures especially the Cathedral. After breakfast the following morning, we went and investigated the Cathedral. It was really beautiful - the stained glass windows shone brightly in the sunlight. We went and found a coffee afterwards and then made our way to Tours. Graham and I went to the hotel that we had booked only to be told that we should have been at their sister hotel in the south of the City. Anyway, we eventually got sorted out and met up with everyone else - the others having travelled to Tours that day.

Friday 4th June - TOURS to SAUMUR - 59 miles

This morning we all got up to breakfast in the 'Motel' type hotel. The sky was blue and it was going to be a very hot day. We cycled down some very busy roads for about 3 miles until we reached Euro Velo 6 or Loire a Velo. On reaching this, we started to cycle along the Cher River. It was a very good path and quite flat which was rather nice! We cycled towards Savonnieres and then arrived at the Chateau de Villandry for coffee. We couldn't see much of the Chateau but it was a lovely area. After this we continued inland through Valleres to Azay-le-Rideau where we had a picnic beside the River Indre. We had been listening for quite some time as we went along the banks of the River to the bullfrogs. Once we had sat down to eat our picnic, we could stand and admire these creatures - fascinating with their little cheeks bulging out! We then rode along the Indre to Brehement where we joined the Loire. We followed the banks of the Loire for about 15km and then went through Avoine to join la Vienne River. Here we stopped for a break as we were all somewhat hot and bought some lovely cold drinks and ice lollies. We stood in the shade and thoroughly enjoyed them. We passed some lovely houses with beautiful roses. Zoe managed to get two punctures this afternoon - one whilst just standing minding her own business when suddenly the air puffed out of the tyre! I can't remember why we had all stopped but perhaps we shouldn't have! She had another just before reaching Saumur. We went on through Cannes St Martin where the Vienne meets the Loire and then followed the Loire into Saumur. Along this stretch were troglodyte caves which looked fascinating. It appears that they are opening a restaurant in a cave and also re-developing some of the caves to create apartments. Saumur seems a very pretty town with a Chateau high up on a hill nearby. We stayed in the Crystal Hotel where we had a lovely evening meal sitting outside. A very friendly hotel with a talented landlady who sang briefly her rendition of 'Tea for Two' after the meal, when serving after dinner drinks!

Saturday 5th June SAUMUR to VAAS - approx. 41 miles

Graham and I got up a bit earlier so that we could look around the Town a little. We walked up onto a pretty stone bridge so that we could look back at the Chateau and take some photos. We went back to the hotel for breakfast and then got sorted and we all picked up our bikes so that we could get on our way. We were going inland today, away from the River. It was a beautiful day again and the ride started very quietly with not much traffic. We stopped at Vernantes for coffee which was very pleasant. Soon after that we came across a village to buy food for a picnic lunch. We passed some very pretty places with many wild flowers and animals. We found a quiet field where we could eat our picnic and then gently made our way to Vaas , where we stayed in the delightful Hotel le Vedaquais. We had a lovely meal again in the garden as it was such a nice evening. Graham and I had a short walk to look at the local Mill and then back to the hotel. That night we had a terrific thunderstorm.

Sunday 6th June VAAS to VENDOME - approx. 49 miles

We all had a slightly disturbed night last night due to the thunder and lightening and having to get up to close windows to keep out the rain! It carried on raining throughout our divine breakfast! Really fresh croissants which melted in the mouth! Anyway, by the time we had finished breakfast and got everyone out, it had just stopped raining. We were all togged up well but were soon stopping the strip off again when it warmed up. The ride today was mostly fairly flat with a few smallish hills. We went down some lovely lanes with pretty countryside through Chateau-du-Loir, Marcon, and Chateau-sur-le-Loir where we stopped for coffee. There were some very attractive castle ruins high on the hillside. There was also and market opposite the café where we stopped and so we all bought fruit for later that day including some lovely cherries. We carried on upwards through Couture-sur-Loir and onto Montoire-sure-le-Loir. Between these places, the road was closed to traffic with diversions in place. Forest Row Bike Club is rarely put off by road diversions! We pushed past the bollards and carried on for a bit wondering what all the fuss was about, when we met a very large hole in the road! Actually it stretched the all the way across the road. There was a large JCB type affair and other diggers and tools. Anyway, we were not deterred. We simply climbed the bank on one side of the road and passed it by. Actually we all posed for some rather amusing photos to record the event! We had some lunch at Montoire-sur-le-Loir. We sat outside a rather full bistro were the Waitress obviously thought we were pests for daring to arrive and want lunch. We did have quite a good lunch though and even managed to get a smile out of her before we went on our way. After a while cycling along pretty lanes, we came across some delightful Charolais cows. Having said hello to them, we had a break and ate the fruit that we had bought earlier. Jane and Martha and then Christine and Graham had a lot of fun climbing about on a hay bale…. As you do!! Shortly we arrived in Vendome where we stayed in the Hotel Capricorne near the railway station. It was quite a nice little hotel - the poor owner's wife had just fallen down the stairs and was awaiting an ambulance. We ended up walking into the town for our dinner which was quite nice. The next morning we had breakfast and were on our way. The wife was hopefully going to be ok but was walking on crutches, poor girl.

Monday 7th June VENDOME to ORLEANS - approx. 49 miles

We awoke this morning to a bit of cloud but it looked like it could be a good day. We had breakfast and then off we went. We had a couple of hills today which weren't particularly high. We went through lots of fields and villages with pretty gardens. On through Faye, La Chappelle-Encherie, Beauvilliers and Autainville we looked in vain for coffee! We then went off course, to Binas where we had a lovely hot drink and found jolly good loos! Then we were off again to Ouzouer-le-Marche where we bought our lunch and had a picnic on the Green by the Church. We carried on through Baccon and Husseau-sur-Mauves and on into Orleans for 2 nights, Tuesday being our day off. We stayed at the lovely Hotel Saint Aignan. We met up for a lovely meal in the City tonight.

Tuesday 8th June ORLEANS

It was a bit dull and damp this morning. We had breakfast and pottered about until it ha stopped raining. Martha was feeling a bit poorly this morning but went to get herself checked out at the Pharmacy and decided that she hadn't had enough to drink the day before (of the right kind!) - slapped wrist!! Anyway, we all went our separate ways to wander the City, see the Cathedral or walk along the riverside and watch the wildlife. A very gentle day. There are many very old buildings in Orleans some dating back to Medieval times, which have been beautifully kept. The stained glass windows in the Cathedral tell the story of Joan of Arc's life and death here.

Wednesday 9th June ORLEANS to BLOIS - approx. 54 miles

There had been quite a lot of rain during the night but it had dried up by the time we set off this morning. Unfortunately, I went flying off my bike in the City on our way out as I managed to get my tyre stuck briefly in a tram line! Thankfully, no real harm done - got helped up by a handsome Frenchman! A bit later Martha, I think, decided not to be left out and fell up a kerb! - thankfully she was on the whole, ok too. We had a nice ride considering it was a little damp on and off today. We stopped at Meung-sur-Loire for a coffee and then shortly after that arrived in the Medieval town of Beauguency where we picked up a picnic lunch. It was Christine's birthday today and so to celebrate, we all had gorgeous cakes from the local Patisserie and messily ate them under the cover of an old building in the Town as it was raining!! Most of the day was spent riding on the local cycle paths which are great to ride on. We reached Chambord for a good look around the outside and a photo stop. We also had a cup of tea in their café. This is a really beautiful Chateau, which I hope to one day visit properly. Then we set off to ride the rest of the way into Blois. There was a lovely view of the City and Cathedral from across the river and then we eventually found our way to the hotel St, Jacques. We had a very nice meal out in the Town and then walked back to the hotel for the night.

Thursday 10th June BLOIS to TOURS

Today we woke up to pouring rain! I wasn't feeling too well and so decided to go with Fred in the car today. (Promise it wasn't the rain!!) Fred and I set off after packing up the car, to Cheverny. We had quite a good look around there and it was really lovely. The rooms at the Chateau are all beautifully furnished and the flower arrangements were truly something else! The sun came out and we walked in the gardens. We had a bit of lunch in a small café and then drove to Chenonceaux. The heavens opened when we were going along in the car and we had a massive thunderstorm. We actually could hardly see where we were going and so decided to stop the car until it had gone over. We sent positive thoughts to the others riding and hoped they had found shelter - poor things hadn't! We arrived at Chenonceaux and walked in the garden a little and then went into the Chateau. It was very nice but seemed darker then Cheverney and had not got as much furniture. We started back to Tours to meet up with the others who had actually arrived before us. They were somewhat cold and wet. Anyway, we all had quite a good meal next door to the hotel. The next morning, after dramatics with flat batteries and cars being in the wrong place, we all set off to Dieppe for our onward journey back to the UK.

AS Kate didn't cycle the last day here is Christine's report on the last day

Thursday, 10th June

Sadly this was our last cycling day before returning home the next day!!! It had been a fabulous week so far so for those of us who ate breakfast, we met up at 7.45a.m. and then Graham did his usual excellent job of pumping up everyone's tyres for the day ahead.

This was to be one of our longer cycling days so around 9.00a.m. we were ready to leave the hotel in Blois and was quickly out of the town and on to more pleasant and quieter cycling tracks. Our route was from Blois to Tours following the river Loire on the south bank until we reached La Godiniere where we turned south onto the north bank of the river Cher at Chisseaux, a short distance upstream from Chenonceaux Chateaux. After briefly following the river we then headed north to Amboise on the south bank of the Loire and followed the Loire downstream to Tours.

Unfortunately it was raining so we were all togged up in our wet gear although it certainly wasn't cold and it wasn't long before the rain eased and we were stripping off layers of clothing.

Along the cycle track we came to a "deviation" sign as work was being carried out but Graham thought we could probably get through so with him in front, we all followed on behind. The diggers had done a fine job in churning up the mud which meant that very soon we were pushing our bikes until the wheels stopped turning due to clogging mud under the mud guards and we were then reduced to dragging our bikes!. We then spent some time trying to clear the wheels of mud using any old stick you could find. Graham went on ahead to see if conditions were likely to improve but it was decided that the track was impassable so it was about turn and back through the mud to where we had seen the deviation sign. Another few minutes of mud removal with sticks and taking the bikes through any puddles and we resumed our tour with "plan B".

We came to another pretty village typical of many that we had come across during the last few days, gorgeous white washed cottages and roses everywhere! This one was called ????????? Here we found a boulangerie/patisserie and purchased our picnic lunch for later and then found a café where we enjoyed our morning coffees and hot chocolates!

The rain had stopped and the day was hotting up so more layers of clothing were removed.

About 1.00p.m. Graham spotted a super hideaway place to have lunch next to the river where we could sit on the bank.

The quiches,fresh fruit and particularly the pear tart (as only the French can do) went down a treat and we were enjoying the sun until our leader cracked the whip and reminded us of the journey ahead!

Eventually we came to Chenonceaux where one of the largest Chateaux in the area is situated. Lots of visitors here and although we parked the bikes with the intention of getting some photos of the Chateaux, this was not possible unless you paid to enter the grounds. You would have needed a couple of hours at least to do it justice so we decided to move on.

By this time, the weather was looking menacing to say the least. Very dark black clouds were swirling around and rumbles of thunder overhead. We decided to take the precaution of togging up in wet gear again. It wasn't long before it started to rain heavily and then the thunderstorm was suddenly overhead! At it's peak, we decided to try and shelter under some trees (even though this is the last place one should shelter in a thunderstorm) but soon we were standing in inches and inches of rain, water seeping into your shoes so decided we might as well continue on. It was now so dark that we switched our bike lights on for the first time on the tour.

Roads were flooded, our brakes squeaked and squealed and trying to keep dry didn't matter anymore. Poor Graham trying to read a map in weather conditions like this was a star!

The rain eased, the clouds lightened and even the sun appeared for the last few miles of our journey into Tours. Martha had a puncture which was quickly fixed and as we approached our Hotel with a few hundred yards to go, Graham also had a puncture but by this time we were close enough to walk to our destination. In total we rode 62 miles on this final day.

A much needed hot shower, dry clothes and a short walk across the hotel car park to a restaurant next door was a perfect end to the day and to the tour!!


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