Breakfast was a croissant and a coffee at the hotel, then back on the road.
Another easy day’s cycling, the majority of it on traffic free roads.
Lunch at Amboise:
Someone likes collecting enamelled tin tea pots:
There are a lot of these water towers about. I quite like them.
Lots more cycling by the Loire..
This is a photo of a French fighter jet
Lots more vineyards. Also seeing a lot of sunflower fields, but they’re passed their prime now and look a little sad.
Tours is a big town. Not too photogenic. I picked up a sandwich whilst there.
Another French car for the collection.
My first choice of campsite was closed, so I went to the municipal campsite in Langeais instead. After pitching the tent I cycled into town and found a pizza restaurant open. They had the normal 4 cheese pizza on the menu, but also a 6 cheese one, so I had to try that. Needless to say I didn’t want to see the cheese board after that.
Then back to the campsite to bed.
Blois to Langeais, 110 km. Total so far = 3,209 km.
A cold night so not much sleep. After packing up I headed back a kilometre into the town centre to visit a café to defrost with a coffee, and then visit a boulangerie to get a couple of pain au chocolats for later.
When I went back to get on the route I took a wrong turn at a part that wasn’t that clearly signposted and proceeded to waste about half an hour on some pretty rough ground, taking the bike through an outdoor fitness course and then a nature reserve. Not the best start!
Once I had backtracked to the start and got going again it wasn’t too long before the sun came out to warm things up.
I managed to have a conversation entirely in French with another cyclist whilst cycling along at one point, which was a nice milestone.
I made it to Orléans in time for lunch. Orléans reminded me of a mini Paris.
I had the plat du jour and a crème brûlée.
Here’s a statue in honour of Joan of Arc who came here almost 600 years ago.
Another easy day of cycling. Lots of clouds of gnats to cycle through – the harmless kind that like to gather where the sun reaches through a shaded spot. Must have inhaled a few 🙁
I cycled past the Saint Laurent nuclear power plant, which is the third I’ve encountered along the Loire – one more to go I think.
Whilst taking a break and the above photograph, a club ride of about 25 cyclists in club jerseys went by. When I got going again after a couple of minutes I noticed I could still see them in the distance, so I upped my pace and after 10 mins I managed to catch up with them, and was able to hang on at the back of the pack.
We were on a stretch of road that was shared use, and I noticed a couple of cars were approaching from behind, so I shouted ‘car behind’, as I believe one is supposed to do in these situations.
Someone looked and translated this into the French equivalent and the riders moved to the right of the road to make way for the cars. Once the cars has gone past I saw this as my opportunity to overtake the lot. At a distance behind the cars, bit in the gap they had left, I made my way to the front pf the pack and beyond 🙂 There were a few surprised looks and a few cheers.
The road was smooth and I kept on at around 35kmh until I was out of sight then eased off a bit. In retrospect I should have asked the guy at the front if I could join the club. Next time!
My port for the night is Blois. It looked like an interesting town to walk around, so I found a cheap hotel to check into, drop off the bike and freshen up, then popped into town for dinner and a walk.
This big staircase reminded me of Sacre Coeur:
There are dozens of interesting streets with intestesting buildings.
And then back to the hotel as the moon is coming up over the Loire.
Sully-sur-Loire to Blois, 128 km. Total so far = 3,099 km.
I skipped breakfast at the campsite as I’ve now run out of gas for my stove. So I cycled a bit until I found an open café, and breakfast turned out to be a coffee and a packet of crisps.
I spotted this true French classic rotting in a field.
I cycled past Sancerre with its large south-facing slopes filled with vines.
Lunch was some pasta in a mushroom sauce which was just a supporting act for the star of the show:
One area that I went through had been transformed with lots of art installations amongst the trees.
Cycling was pretty straightforward today, mainly following the river, and not straying from the Eurovelo route too often.
Hay stacks here are the same as everywhere else and not the kind in Monet’s paintings.
I’m now in chateau country and have seen a few already this afternoon.
I reached my destination town around 6pm, and headed what Google maps lead me to believe was a campsite but it turned out to be a shop. My plan B was a campsite 10km away, but as I started heading for that I stumbled across another much closer.
I checked in and set up the tent. There’s a small snack hut here which was open so I had dinner there. Also pleased to report this campsite has loos with toilet seats and toilet paper! Happy days.
Pouilly-sur-Loire to Sully-sur-Loire, 111 km. Total so far = 2,971 km.
The campsite I stayed at managed to dodge the rain overnight. The crows made a bit of a racket, but all in all a good stay – great welcome by the staff and clean, modern facilities.
Whilst waiting for my campsite patisserie delivery I chatted to an Australian couple heading east on Eurovelo 6. They warned me the trail was pretty rough in the west, so that’s something I’ve got coming.
Good to be back on the proper cycle route, and it was an easy morning’s cycling.
The route was flat and followed a canal that had been built in the 1820s to provide a reliable transport system alongside the Loire.
I happened across a place to eat lunch at lunchtime. Nice. Poached eggs for starters were pretty spectacular tasting! Main course was a salmon parcel with potatoes and ratatouille. And fromage blanc for dessert.
And then more cycling.
There was a bit of a headwind but not too bad. Sunny blue skies again. It’s only when I stop that the heat bothers me, so as long as I stop in the shade things work out pretty well.
The Loire is a wide gentle river, although there is plenty of capacity all along the route for lots more water, so I imagine it gets big in the springtime.
Tonight I am camping in Pouilly-sur-loire. The campsite is on the edge of a minor channel of la Loire. The camping season is pretty much over and there’s only a few others here. I’ve yet to find a French site that has toilet paper and toilet seats – it’s one or the other.
I’m typing this on the river bank under a clear sky and the fullish moon is just making an appearance – it’s all very nice!
Decize to Pouilly-sur-loire, 101 km. Total so far = 2,860 km.
The hotel I stayed in was pretty modern with things like an iPod dock and Nespresso coffee machine in the room. Interesting to note the non-Nestlé coffee capsules which made great tasting coffee.
I didn’t have any decent map of the Eurovelo 6 route and wasted a bit of time trying to find it – the online route I was looking at didn’t bear much resemblance to reality. So I chose my own route and set off.
Lots of gentle hills through the countryside in the hot sun. I hardly saw a soul, and very little was open in the small towns I went through, until I reached Gueugnon where I came across one place that was open, and by good fortune, it was a restaurant. Midi served until 2pm it said outside – I checked the time and it was 1:35pm – very good! I ordered some spring rolls, a Thai curry and some white Burgundy. It was all very nice.
I was heading to a camp site at Digoin which had got good reviews. Digoin was not like the other towns – it had quite a few dusty bars and restaurants open.
And when I had almost reached the campsite there were huge crowds at some kind of fayre.
I checked into the campsite and pitched my tent, then went back to investigate. Entry was free and it was a very large bizarre assemblage of craft sellers, people selling guttering, car manufacturers, sausages, cheeses, wines, wedding planning – you name it, it was here! I took the opportunity to get a snack so I wouldn’t have to make my own dinner, and bought a few craft beers.
I headed back to the campsite and did my laundry, and whilst waiting for the laundry I made good use of the small campsite pool.
Montceau-les-Mines to Digoin, 58 km. Total so far = 2,676 km.
A good night’s sleep, but a clear night, so a tent wet with condensation. Made a coffee, packed up and hit the road.
I stopped at a boulangerie and picked up a couple of pain au chocolats, here labelled ‘croissants chocolat’, and stuck them in my bag. The woman being served ahead of me ordered 30 baguettes!
Shortly after finding the boulangerie I found a cafe and had un petit café crème, then rejoined the canal path.
There’s a strange ticking noise coming from the bike and I can’t figure out what’s causing it. Approx one tick per wheel revolution but only when I’m riding so difficult to troubleshoot. The bike needs a good clean, but I think the issue might be from inside the rear hub as I can’t see anything causing any fouling.
I ate my croissants at 12pm only to then 10 minutes later pass through a village with lots of open restaurants which I skipped as I was no longer hungry.
It wasn’t long until I realised I’d left the campsite having filled just one water bottle, having used the other for dinner the previous evening.
On a non-sunny day this wouldn’t have been a problem, but today the sun was out in full effect, and with no shops open I ran out of water an hour before reaching my ‘lunch’ town.
When I arrived at Chalon-sur-Saône, all I could find were diy superstores. It hadn’t yet got to the stage of knocking on someone’s door, but I did have that as an option. I headed for the town centre in search of somewhere that sold water. As I headed into town, so did a convoy of about 25 cars celebrating a wedding, beeping their horns. I had a splitting headache!
I came across a vending machine and got a large cold coke which went down very nicely. I then found a place to get lunch, but the kitchens were closed. I got a beer instead. I found somewhere that sold sandwiches and stuck it in my bag for later use and headed off. Feeling better I also picked up another coke and a large bottle of water.
I’m not interested in coming back to this town! I couldn’t see any campsites nearby and my attempt at a warm showers night drew no response, so I booked a discounted hotel at Montceau-les-Mines and set off for that.
It took a while to find a suitable route to get out of the town as my original route suggested by google and garmin tried to take me down a busy road which I don’t think was suitable for a bike.
All morning the landscape had been flat, but in the afternoon this changed to hills. This is the Bourgogne region and the land I cycled through was filled with 3 feet high vineyards.
The hills were hard work!
No time to check out the town, I headed straight for the hotel.
Once I’d checked in and had a shower I went back down to the restaurant. It was a tough day so I had starter, main and cheese courses 🙂
Too tired to explore the town on foot I headed back to my room to discover a Stones documentary I hadn’t seen was being shown in English with French subtitles, so that was a good end to the day.
Saint-Usage to Montceau-les-Mines, 141 km. Total so far = 2,618 km.
A comfy night’s rest and up earlyish. Sent on my way with a couple of organic cereal bars and a fruit juice. And borrowed their track pump to get my tyres up to ‘hard boiled’.
Besançon is a really interesting town, so I spent a bit of time wandering around. I started by finding a cafe to have a small coffee at the counter, local style!
They’ve only very recently introduced trams. Here’s one going past the cafe I was at.
It has a citadel at the top of the town.
Film buffs may recognise the town as being the birthplace of the Lumière brothers. In fact they were born in this house:
And just half a century earlier, 20 meters away on the other side of the square, Victor Hugo was born in this house:
It’s a large and interesting town. I reckon I could spend some holiday time here very happily. I’d never heard of it before and it’s a great discovery for me.
Then back onto the river path. I had lunch at a small village restaurant. Pâté starter, fish in white sauce with ratatouille and rice, then a cheese course. Served with a small carafe of wine and a bottle of chilled water for €13.
I cycled on in very nice weather until I felt I’d done enough miles and spotted a campsite.
The campsite was pretty basic again – a place to pitch my tent, and use of the shower block and outdoor sinks. Although this one had toilet seats and toilet paper in the cubicle, which was a nice touch..
I got attacked by mosquitoes whilst bending all my tent pegs trying to get more than an inch of peg in the ground before hitting rock. Some mossies paid attention to the Jungle Formula repellant, the others were sadly terminated upon detection.
For dinner I cooked the mozzarella ravioli that had been sitting in my bag for a day. Early night, but due to a covers band playing an outdoor gig 500m away along the river I didn’t get to sleep until late. The bit at the end of Roxanne which repeats ‘put on the red light’ was very amusing as the timing was completely off. There wasn’t any clapping or cheering at the end of any of the songs. More practice perhaps.
Saw a big snake today. Ran away before I could take a pic, soz!
And I’m heading west to the Atlantic coast, because, why not?
Besançon to Saint-Usage, 97 km. Total so far = 2,477 km.
There was no condensation on the tent in the morning, so I had the satisfaction of packing away a dry tent today.
The campsite was right next to the canal path so it didn’t take long to re-join the Eurovelo 6 route heading west.
The path is straight and well-maintained which made for quick progress. There weren’t many boats on the he canal – possibly because there are so many locks – which also meant I was going uphill.
Lunchtime approached as I approached Montbéliard. I saw it as no coincidence, so headed into the town centre to find something substantial to eat.
The path switched over to following the river ‘Le Doubs’ – a slow, meandering river which cut its way through the hills that were now appearing.
Another fine day. The scenery reminded me of Scotland in terms of how clear everything looks.
For my evening’s accommodation, I used the warm showers website to find board for the night, as kindly recommended by a reader of this blog. Yesterday I searched the area Besançon to find a host, got in touch and arranged my arrival time.
I had a very pleasant evening with my really nice hosts, Adrien and Ai, who are passionate about cycling, and are experienced tourers. They even have a Brompton in their bicycle arsenal. They also very kindly made me dinner. A huge thanks to them and a big thumbs up for the warm showers concept!
Mulhouse to Besançon, 155 km. Total so far = 2,380 km.
Leaving the campsite earlyish I followed the Rhein cycle path which closely followed the river.
The Rhein has a nice green colour and has small eddies and whirlpools all the way along.
This old covered wooden bridge was one of the many bridges (over to Switzerland) along the way. It had a nice old wooden smell to it!
And I spotted another building with chevron shutters. It must mean something.
A large section of the path was sponsored by an energy company who had placed ‘learning spots’ along the river. The building below for example housed a turbine from an old hydro electric dam over the river.
At one stage my bike developed a problem. All of a sudden I was unable to turn the pedals round. I coasted to a halt and propped the bike against a lamp-post to take a look.
The chain had come across too far on the derailleur and was jammed against the pannier rack support:
I got out my tools and levered the chain back out. All was well and no damage done.
Pedalling on I soon came across some Roman sights in Switzerland:
Later on I arrived in Basel. I saw a poster that claimed ‘One Basel’, but I saw several. As I rode in it seemed quite nice and arty, which then soon turned into upmarket high street shopping. After I crossed a bridge it was markedly less well off. The spike in the river marks the spot that Germany, Switzerland and France meet:
When I crossed the river into France, things at once seemed elegant and relaxed so I took the opportunity to get acquainted with the cuisine.
I then joined Eurovelo 6 cycle route which happened to be going my way along the Rhone canal.
One long (30 min cycle) section of the path had the solar system bodies placed proportionally apart which was nice I thought.
The canal path was easy cycling.
I headed for a campsite in Mulhouse. Mulhouse itself seemed OK. I’m pretty sure I was the only tourist in the town centre though.
No restaurant at the campsite, so a 5 min pot noodke and cheese sandwich for dinner.
Waldshut-Tiengen to Mulhouse, 119 km. Total so far = 2,225 km.