We paid for the beautiful weather on Friday with three solid days of rain. As a result, we didn’t get out much, only going the making the short trek into Montsoreau on Saturday to see the Chateau, and otherwise hiding at our B&B. We actually hired a taxi on Sunday to take us to dinner and back, since we had no desire to brave the rain. We discovered that bad weather is considered a reason to close for the night, even if a restaurant would otherwise be open. Everything on the main square was shuttered, but in the area around the chateau, there were a couple of restaurants open.
It was still raining Monday morning, but we wanted to move on anyway, so we put on our rain gear and headed out. We decided early in our ride, when the route signs pointed us off onto a muddy track, to just ignore them and follow the roads. This was a great decision, as we encountered very little traffic on flat roads with good pavement, and were able to make great time, covering off about 30km by lunch. Coming back to the Velo route at Rigny-Ussy, we debated stopping at that point, particularly since the rain seemed to be picking up, but after a hot lunch, the sky lightened a bit, and we decided to push on.
As it turned out, this was a great decision, as the rain finally stopped and we had a dry ride for the last 13km to Langeais, making a distance we really hadn’t been counting on.
Langeais, it turns out, is a beautiful town. There was less greenery than in some, but our B&B had a nice garden, and a great view overlooking the chateau and the town. It’s only downfall was proximity to a church that rang its bells every hour, plus an extended performance at 7:30am and 7:30pm, which tended to interrupt our sleep. But you can’t have it all, I suppose.
After two nights there we pushed on to Tours, which is where we are today. We saw our first blue sky in several days, though it was still mostly cloudy and a bit cool. Today’s ride was probably the best we’ve had, again lovely flat road right along the river. The countryside was green and despite a long stop to explore the chateau and gardens at Villandry, it didn’t take us long to get to our destination.
Coming into Tours almost ruined our day, though. Despite being a small city of about 130k people, it was crazy busy, and the route signs disappeared for a while, leaving us to guess our route a bit until we were close to the center to be on the city centre tourist map. To top it off, there’s extensive construction of a tram line, so there’s a new bridge over the Cher that wasn’t on my map, and the bike lane was regularly getting blocked by construction vehicles, plus randomly disappearing when space was too tight (much like Edmonton, I guess, but everythings harder when you’re not familiar with the city.)
This very negative first impression led us to decide to stay only one night, but once we were settled into our hotel and started walking around the town, it quickly redeemed itself. There are a number of pedestrian streets in the older parts of town that are busy with people and more diversity of food than we’ve seen elsewhere in France. French food is great, but it was a treat to be able to be able to stop in and have a quick kebab instead of having to wait through the hour long process of more traditional French cuisine.
So Tours has now received the seal of approval, despite a rocky introduction. We’re hoping leaving town will go a bit smoother, as it looks like there should just be a separated bike path along the Loire, starting 4 blocks from our hotel end going all the way out of town. Hopefully the reality is as good as the map.
We’ll be moving onto Aboise tomorrow, though we may do a bit more exploring of Tours before heading out.