A lovely start to the day for a change, the sun shining and little puffy clouds in the sky. Perfect for taking our first proper Chateau tour, around Chateau du Langeais. A lovely little place started in the middle ages, and at one time occupied by Richard I of England (Richard the Lionheart). It’s big significance to French history is that in 1491 it was the site of the wedding of King Charles VIII of France and Anne of Brittany, which at the time was not part of France. It was the act that lead to the permanent incorporation of Brittany into France. She was only 15 at the time, and the marriage contract dictated that in the event of Charles’ death, she would be obligated to marry the next king, whoever he might be, so as to secure the continued incorporation of Brittany into France. Only 8 years later, she fulfilled that obligation to marry Louis XII, who had been witness to her first marriage. Small world eh?
The weather stayed reasonable most of the day, but with slowly building cloud which led to the sun mostly disappearing. It’s been somewhat cooler as well, so when the sun did disappear, it was actually quite cool unless you were moving, and even then a bit of a chill on the arms. So the jumper came out for most of the day. Not so much to see along this part of the route, the river was often out of site and not so many buildings or towns of interest along the cycle route. One exception was Chateau du Villandry, which is famous for it’s extensive formal gardens, all of which is largely shielded from the passing visitor, so you have to pay to get in to see it. We couldn’t even get a decent view of the house itself, and so no pictures taken. It’s a popular tourist stop, probably the most significant to date, with lots of coaches, campers and cyclists jostling outside. We decided to move on and enjoy the ride.
As it was, after the morning sightseeing tour, we were running late and had wanted to get to Tours so that we could get to see my neighbours’ (Patrick and Judith) house. They have left it in the care of their neighbours Michel and Yvonne, who were very happy to allow us to call to visit and for a view around the garden. The house is very sweet, and the gardens lovely, with lots of lovely trees including cherry (yum!) that no doubt create some pleasing shade on sunny days. It’s a very quiet and peaceful neighbourhood, you must love it there! But of course we are very happy to have you as neighbours!
Michel was very proud to show us around his own garden, full of fruit trees and bushes of just about every variety – pears, plums, apples, kiwi fruit, figs – about the only thing missing appeared to be oranges! Also a very extensive vegetable garden. All I can say is that P & J have no excuse with such great teachers next door. We also got to see Michel’s paintings (he paints) – such a great variety of styles and so very accomplished. He said he has now done some 260. Both Jonesy and I particularly liked the local landscapes, perhaps as they resonated so much with what we currently see on a daily basis.
By the time we’d had the tour and enjoyed a beer and nibbles, we have no time for a tour of Tours, so we dashed back through the city, a quick look around the outside of the cathedral, and then along the river towards Amboise. A pleasant evening ride through the countryside, although the route disappeared at one point but the GPS was sufficient to keep us going in the right direction, and we picked it up again before too long.
Amboise is a pretty town, but obviously very popular on the tourist route – American’s appeared to be everywhere this evening. They have no doubt come to see the enormous chateau which dominates the town, particularly the fortifications. The streets around the walls are also very old, lots of half-timbered houses, all very well kept, and largely occupied by restaurants. Very little in the way of bars though, which made finding a post meal drink a challenge, but we were sufficiently determined. A lounge style bar that was quite apart from the non-stop homage to Alicia Keys, but I had me tapping my foot along to Empire State of Mind (you know, the New York, New York one), which I get to hear most times I go to the gym when back home. I shall no doubt be humming that on the ride tomorrow and thinking of home.
Tomorrow we will do a bigger mileage, as the last 3 days have been a little light, and we hope to get to OrlÃ©ans.
Mileage Covered Today: 47
Executive Summary: History is fun, and gardening can be very productive.