Today could be defined by wind, quaint towns, wind, French men with trailers, wind, and the odd beer.
This morning started very chilly and threatening rain. Why is it that when you look out the window first thing in the morning and the sun is shining, but no sooner have you got ready for the the days ride that the weather has sneakily changed character all together? First thing, sun shine, half an hour later, something akin to the apocalypse or The Wizard of Oz. Don’t worry Toto, we’re not in Kansas any more! Anyway, it was fresh, and spitting with rain, but the supermarket beckoned, and we stocked up on provisions. The first hour was inclement but we didn’t really get wet, and then thankfully the day improved from there.
Briare really didn’t have anything going for it apart from the aqueduct, which is well worth a brief visit. The skies again stole the show, forboding to start with, then back to the old “looks like a flotilla of ships” thing, before ending up looking like small ships of the south coast of England. We enjoyed a good deal of sunshine, only marred by the intermittent wind, gusty at time. How is it that in France, the wind can be 90 degrees to your course, but you still get it in the face? Tomorrow, we turn the corner and head north west, and I dearly hope that will be the end of the head winds!
We found several really lovely towns today, most notably St Charité-sur-Loire, which was both cosmopolitan and historic at the same time. A particularly welcome break for a beer late in the afternoon. We were both feeling slightly jaded for some reason this afternoon, nothing that we could pinpoint, but the last couple of days have been higher mileage, rewarded by dejuener gourmand and perhaps one more glass of jubbly than was strictly necessary. Anyway, amongst today’s pictures, you will find a short video (the first this trip) to show where we stopped for refreshments. Aren’t those bells lovely!
Today we have enjoyed rivers banks, canals and fields along the route, enjoyably varied but with the ever present wind in yer face that somewhat took the edge off. Oh, and for the first time, some proper hills! The climb into Sancerre was not particularly taxing (for we are strong like Wiking!) but it did mean we actually got to see some of the surrounding landscape for a change, instead of looking at hedgerows, fields and trees. Particularly good wine tasting, but possibly influenced by the hill climb preceding.
By beer-o-clock, we were wondering if we’d make Nevers, and had started to plan a shortcut to the route to get into the town earlier, when we ended up being joined by a Frenchy on a mountain bike towing a trailer. We had a chat along the route, including our intended destination, and he offered to show us the direct route into town. Thank you kind sir! However, it was a slightly energetic ride, given that we were feeling jaded, and he had an empty trailer, and we were carrying excess baggage. Still, it seemed to have the effect of snapping us into action, and at least it meatn that time passed quickly.
At last we were into Nevers, which didn’t have much to entice the passing visitor according to some brief web research this morning. It turns out it has some very impressive architecture (pictures tomorrow), but the town appears to be almost devoid of life. In fact, most of France appears to be devoid of life, or at least people for most of the day. I can only assume that the French all work in the mines, as you don’t see anyone for much of the day. Sometimes you can easily imagine that aliens have been to visit and taken just the French away for a closer inspection. It can’t be that they are all in the coffee shops/bars, as there are never more than three people in there either. Anyone with an explanation, please leave a comment.
As it is Saturday (or it was 2 hours ago as I write this), we decided to have a night out. Eventually we found an Italian restaurant which looked good, but it turned out again that the service was indifferent. It was quick from the kitchen, but front of house didn’t seem to care a hoot. I ordered Filet de Boeuf which seemed to be billed to come with green beans, pasta and potatoes, or at least a choice. Instead it came with only pasta, which I can’t eat. Slightly disappointed, but made up for with a banana split. Jones decided that he needed Parmesan with his fish pasta, which went down like a lead balloon with the staff, but he was happy and surely that’s all that matters? Anyway, meal consumed we trundled off to a bar across the road from the hotel recommended by the receptionist. A lively joint, loud music, but not actually enough people. Those that were there seemed to be trying to drink the Russian national output of Vodka in shots with tonic water, which when slammed on the bar fizz up, which presumably is a ploy to make you drink faster. Or get it up your nose, or something. Either way, not a pretty sight. We stuck to the beers which were fine, and enjoyed the apparent entertainment.
I suspect that tomorrow may be a slow start.
If anyone is actually reading this, do please leave a comment or send an email. It would be lovely to hear from you all!
Miles Covered Today: 69
Executive Summary: Drinks should be taken long and slow, much like your cycle tours.