|All kinds of weather today; started fairly nice, and when the sun came through it was gorgeous, but it started raining about two hours from Tours, and we had to don our rain gear. But after we arrived in Tours and started to shop for better rain gear, the sun came out and the shopping expedition ended.
We discovered today why Al’s saddlebags are so heavy – about 25 pounds of tools (now on Lorne’s bike) and enough clothes for at least three different costume changes during a 6 hour ride – including a Tour de France do –rag and black booties. (And he promises that we still haven’t seen all his cycling duds.)
We started the 47 km trek with a visit to the Pagode de Chanteloup, a 44 metre tall Chinese Pagoda built in 1775 by the Duke of Choiseul. The Pagoda is just outside Amboise, and is seven levels high, with each level slightly smaller than the last one. Why there is a pagoda in the middle of the Loire valley is still a mystery, at least to us, as it was closed . . .
The Loire was out of sight for most of our trip today – we spent a large part of the day going through vineyards and small villages. We did a side trip to the Chateau de la Bourdaisiere after stopping at a great patisserie and farmer’s market in Montlouis-sur-Loire. (The chateau is known for its tomato plants – about 450 different varieties!)
Following an exciting ride across a railway bridge, we went “cross country” for about an hour, cycling on a rutted road that ran by the river. That brought us to Vouvray, which appears to be a wine Mecca of sorts – a large number of wine stores, “caves” and vineyards.
We arrived in Tours in the rain, checked into the hotel, and then hit the streets. Tours is a cathedral city famous for its medieval district that has been “restored’ for the tourists (a little kitchy, but kind of fun). Joan of Arc bought her suit of armor here before setting out to free Orleans in 1429. Tours is also known for its alleged perfection of the French language – not that we could notice!!
Our first stop on the tour of Tours was the Cathedrale St. Gatien, including the two stone towers – Tour Charlemagne and Tour de l’Horloge. The sound of the pipe organ was dramatic, and the stained glass windows were amazing. The two sons of Charles the Eight are both buried here.
We had dinner at Place Plumereau – a very large touristy square with “charming” medieval houses. Very pedestrian, but it hit the spot. Al and Bruce have now “gone Continental”, preferring a glass of Rose as their afternoon refreshment of choice. Blue scarves can’t be far behind…