Day 5-6 May 2-3
Have reached the Loire! To us it seems that it is here that the journey really begins. I can't ignore the 230km we have done so far - body certainly can't - but this is what we have talked about. Meandering along 4 of the great rivers of Europe, to places and countries that are new to us. Anyway, back to yesterday. We left Vitre for what turned to be a long and varied day. Many changes in the weather from grey to brilliant sunshine and then to a thunderous downpour. Along an old railway track, many lovely small roads and a very narrow muddy path round a large lake. Made a small error (me?). For the 1st part of the trip to the Loire we are relying on pages torn from a Michelin road map - our normal way, very light and cheap. The top right-hand corner of each page has a large blue square with the page number in. Sadly our little road passed from the bottom lh corner of one page into the large blue square of the next - I had been too mean to bring the page to the left with a greater overlap. Whilst the road came out the other side of the large blue square there was no indication that in middle of the lbs it was bisected by a large lake with no road round it. Following, in our view erroneous, information from a fisherman we took a rapidly narrowing track round the lake. We were soon off our bikes pushing our way through fairly dense undergrowth with increasing amounts of mud underfoot. I mentioned a thunderous downpour, this was when it started. We must have made a pretty sight sheltering under the rapidly non- existent cover of an oak tree forest with the lake boiling with weight of water falling on its surface. It passed but we stayed wet!
We reached Nort- sur-Endre after 106k; at least we were dry by then. Decided it was too wet to cook ourselves so visited a nice Pizzerie for super. Very happy after finding out that Southampton FC were promoted, bar a reverse miracle. Wanted to tell my father but as Sue pointed out the Saints were still a Premiership side as far as he knew.
The next day was an easy ride into Nantes. We made the journey a little longer by detouring a little to the east to the Ferry at Coureon, from where we had crossed the Loire last year having declined the crossing over the awesomely high and windy bridge at St Nazaire. Sue wanted to go there so that we could claim to have covered the whole river - we are talking of about 15k out of a trip of 2900k! Wandered into Nantes and then went and found our bed for the night. A comfy bed courtesy of Philippe and Marylou Largenton.