Clarkes Cycle Europe 2015 travel blog

Mushrooms & carvings inside Champignonniere Le Saut aux Loups

Entry to Champignonniere Le Saut aux Loups

Bikeway into troglodyte caves

Inside troglodyte dwelling

Inside troglodyte dwelling

Inside troglodyte dwelling

Bistroglo - afternoon tea stop

Final night dinner at Gue de Ray


Last day :'(

Troy, Dylan, Mike and I headed out this morning (Poor Teresa is very ill and has stayed in bed). It was the usual ride through rural France for about 25kms to the Loire. We rode through the town of Varennes sur Loire before riding over a narrow bridge to the southern side of the Loire. The bridge is one lane each way but so narrow, car side mirrors and glass are seen scattered on the ground as we cycle over the bridge.

Directly opposite the bridge we came across Champignonniere Le Saut aux Loups in the sandstone cliffs above us. This is where 80% of mushrooms are grown in France. The caves in the sandstone cliffs were carved out by humans who used the sandstone for building. About 100 years ago, the caves began to be used for mushroom production. We paid our money and took a tour of the caves and learned more than we'd ever dreamed of about mushroom production. It was really interesting - thankfully we were given an English translation to guide us otherwise it might not have been.

A short ride along the Loire brought us to the Village of Montsoreau. Boasting a Chateau right on the banks of the Loire it was one of a number of troglodyte hamlets we would visit today. We bought the 'meal deal' at the local boulangerie - baguette, drink & patisserie - and sat by the bank of the Loire for lunch.

More pale sandstone buildings filled our afternoon as we cycled through Villages - Candes St Martin, Turquant, and Souzay Champigny, all along the banks of the Loire. All troglodyte hamlets, the architecture and desire to live in caves was fascinating. The sandstone caves had facades of sandstone blocks, windows and doors. The walls disappeared into the sandstone cliffs behind. We rode from Torquant to Souzay Champigny behind the cliffs where we found ourselves back amongst the vineyards. In Souzay Champigny, the Loire au Velo (bikeway) took us into a disused troglodyte dwelling and then along narrow streets where many trogolyte dwellings are still in use.

We rode back to Torquant along the edge of the Loire and found a row of galleries, cafes & restaurants - all built in the sandstone cliffs, half cave, half building. What a great place for afternoon tea! Even the toilet was a cave!!

With time to spare before our pickup, we found another route from Torquant back to Montsoreau. A bit hillier than we'd ridden in France - guessing that's why it wasn't marked on our map.

We were picked up on the North side of the bridge we'd ridden this morning. While riding over it, 2 campervans were passing each other from opposite directions. It caused quite a traffic jam and another side mirror was added to the bridges tally.

Back to Gue de Ray for our final night together. It was a quiet and early night for us all - everyone has travel plans for tomorrow.



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