Nantes to Budapest - Sue and Peter's Tale travel blog

Jules Verne's Elephant

Sue & Marylou

Looking Over Loire

Peaceful Loire

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The Elephant

Day 7-10 May 4 - 7th

We are now moving along the Loire, but very much in fits and starts.

Had stayed last night in a lovely old house in Nantes. We know Marylou and Philippe from Gorron, where they lived until 6 years ago. Had a great evening and the next day, Wednesday, prepared to go into Nantes to see if we could purchase new copies of some maps I had lost. Marylou came as our guide and before we knew it we had a wonderful high-speed guided tour of Nantes, seeing parts and sights we would otherwise not have seen - especially Jules Verne's mechanical elephant, a sight to see to believe. Found new maps very easily and then back to Marylou's for lunch, departing at 15.30, a little later than planned and made Ancenis for the night. The Loire, as serene and graceful as ever, is tidal at this point so cycling is quite easy.

The next day was long (106K), but wonderful. Fabulous views of the river, now non-tidal with a just perceptible upwards incline, and very varied roads and cycle paths. Of particular note was the almost deserted Iles de Chalonnes where we lunched in the midday sun. A pleasant hour watching birds fishing, insect catching, or just resting. Whilst the Loire is very wide in these lower reaches there is not much depth. Also, it appears to be very low for this time of the year. It abounds with sandy beaches, sandbars, forested isles and reed beds. Wonderful silence at times, enhanced by very noticeable bird song and sometimes murdered (?) by a cacophony of amorous frogs.

Camped at Les Rosiers-sur-Loire. Slightly pooped after the previous day so had a slow start with a bit housekeeping. Also, one of Sue's pannier rack attachment screws had sheared requiring a drilling operation. Cycled into Samur, had lunch at our favoured restaurant Triannon. Pleased to see that both Patron and his wife were both alive and kicking - both being very much 80+. Normal 4-course meal, including good steak for 10€. Then off to cycle shop for repair of rack. Had our 1st swim in the campsite pool.

Saturday, Southampton's final game of the season! Off reasonably early around 9.00. Strange but waking, showering, breakfasting and breaking camp take a minimum of 2 hours - at our pace! Very interesting part of the Loire on the south bank with the vineyards of Samur coming right down to a significant and steep escarpment to the river. We dutifully followed the appointed route which took us on a scenic diversion, from the riverside road into little villages up in the escarpment, large parts of the houses were literally embedded in the rock with village lanes going through centuries old tunnels along the escarpment face. Caves abounded and many had been enlarged because of the wine trade. That said the going was rough for us with our heavy load. So when another diversion occurred I was on my own - Sue stayed on the riverside road. I went up, took a wrong turning and went up some more and bang something went on the bike. My derallier gear had fractured, bent, broken the chain etc. Not the easiest part to get replaced. Eventually linked up with, understandably not too happy Sue with having to push her bike up a steep winding road! Free wheeled down to the village square below and in 30 minutes we were on our way back to Samur in a disability taxi. I was dropped off at the previously visited cycle shop - closed until 16.00, but another one was nearby. Sue went back last night's campsite with her bike and the bags. Saturday afternoon - we were set for at least a couple of days delay, still we can well afford a couple. However, not to be, aided by a happy young mechanic with time on his hands I was back on my bike in 40 minutes! Sue had just started pitching the tent when I told her news, that stopped and we were off again inside the hour of having returned to Samur. Retraced our route from the morning except there was veto on any detour from the main road. Reached wonderfully quiet site at Savigoy-en-Vienne, even the frogs (amphibious ones) were fairly peaceful. Had supper on a raised terrace on the site and did not sight either of the two other site occupants. For the record I travelled 66k during the day, but only moved a further 25 along our route. Fortune has smiled on us this day - still cost me €100€.

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