Today has been about the sky. Sometimes you can spend all your time looking at the landscape, of which the sky comprises half, but only be looking at the land. Today, the sky took centre stage. Over lunch, I likened it to what ought to be an often used metaphor – a flotilla of ships passing slowly by. Somehow the dark bottoms beneath the clouds are like the water line of a ship, the fluffy tops akin to sails, at least in my addled mind.
This morning started with a hotel breakfast, which can be rather limiting for me as the stock French breakfast is croissant followed by bread (or perhaps the other way around for occasional variation). Not much good for someone who needs to avoid wheat as much a possible. I did however manage to conceal a couple of portions of corn flakes, yoghurt and tinned fruit, along with coffee and juice, so didn’t feel hard done by.
We then had a quick toddle around the town of Amboise to take a look at the rather large and imposing chateau. Very nice it looked to. Then off again across fields and alongside the river, a couple of times on long levee roads that were wonderfully flat. Jones is having trouble keeping up now. I bowl along at 19-20 miles an hour, the legs just going round and round without much apparent effort, and he’s having to draft all the time to keep up. If he slips out of the draft he falls back some distance and struggles to catch up again. I’m being nice though slowing slightly so that he doesn’t have to try so hard. Not sure if he’s noticed yet!
There were not really many notable landmarks on today’s route, so we had vowed to reach Orléans by the days end. It looks to be about 75 miles on the maps, but in the end we did it in 68. We also celebrated as we clocked up the 500 mile mark with a little whoop-whoop.
The only drama of the day was my saddle developing a slight wobble. It looks like the seat is starting to detach itself from the springs, no doubt cause by me using the saddle to lift the rear end when trying to find somewhere to lean it against or get it over large curbs. Not really what saddles are intended for, so can’t really blame the equipment quality. Fortunately a couple of zip ties were deftly deployed to keep it in place and all seems well. My arse may well have made good friends with the saddle this last week, but should the saddle come adrift, I doubt the same could be said for my arse and the seat post, sprung or not!
An unexpected lunch was found in Beaugency. We’d decided to stop for coffee, and possibly an ice cream (Café Legious are becoming favourite), but we were taken by the Plat du Jour (3 choices) and so went for that instead. That was good fuel for the afternoons ride, which was still looking like 40 miles to do. That plus the provisions from the supermarket this morning. Call it Super Unleaded.
We were looking forward to Orléans, although not really knowing what to expect, other than a larger the average town. On arrival, and finding the central square with its statue of Joan of Arc, Jones quickly shot off into the nearest bar/hotel and secured a room, whilst I wondered quite where he had gone (not for the first time today either). Anyway, once relocated, he’d got a room directly off the square for a bargain, although once we saw the room it was apparent why. Although clean and with beds, there was a slight shabbiness to it that wouldn’t have sold it well in a travel brochure. Mind you, on trying the shower, it was clear that it had probably previously been used for cleaning the barnacles off the QEII, such was the power of it. One thing the French seem to have mastered is water pressure and the art of the power shower, if this trip is anything to go by.
We were taken with the menu of the restaurant associated with the hotel, but decided a beer elsewhere would be a good warm up. We started to wander around the town, but found it odd that we couldn’t find anything more exciting than the 3-4 bars around the square which were closing for the day anyway. We slowly expanded the search, and after a quick look at the impressive cathedral, stumbled across a couple of lengthy streets full of restaurants and a lively group of people, the majority of whom were students. Just about any form of cuisine was on offer, but we stuck with the beer for a starter. We ordered pints of Pelforth and wandered into the street to watch the people pass. A group of blokes around 20-something eyed us suspiciously (this being quite a hip joint, a look we were struggling with) and one rather suave dude wearing an Alice band made some comment about the size of the drinks. As it was in French we decided not to comment, and anyway, it would have been unkind to mention that us Brits like proper drinks, whilst these Frenchy blokes seem to like girl sized drinks and clothing accessories! What more can we say!
After the drink, we wandered back to the hotel restaurant. Having checked the online reviews for the place this looked like a good plan, but the service was not helpful, and nothing on the menu actually leapt out wanting to be eaten. Not to mention the drink prices, with a pint costing £7 and the wine at £20 a bottle. So we slipped away whilst they weren’t looking, and went back to the lively streets. This time we bagged a plate of charcuterie and cheese, which came with tasters of three different wines. All of this was extremely agreeable, and the (ahem) people watching wasn’t bad either!
We’ve now finished the principle west-east part of the route, and tomorrow will see us start to swing south towards the Massif Central and the lovely Burgundy wine region. Shit, it’s a tough life.
Miles Covered Today: 68
Total Miles So Far: 525
Executive Summary: The sky is at least as beautiful as the land, but a pretty girl is still more likely to make you walk into a lamppost.