Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Central France. Day 9.

So we participated in the fête du vélo d'Anjou'; loved the congeniality and Frenchness of it, despite the inclement weather. The first 22k along the Loire we were cycling into some serious wind and the occasional rainy squall. Didn't even take my waterproof cycling jacket off except when we stopped for lunch along the way. Suppose we're a bit of a novelty ourselves on this local ride. A few people found it interesting that we had come all the way from Australia for a second year of cycling on this special day when they close the roads to motorised vehicles along both sides of the Loire.
'See yourself doing this again next year?' I asked Al.
'Yep,' he said.
Me too. It's a great big day.

We decided to light out for the territory today. That is, try to find somewhere new and wonderful; easy to do in France.

Set up Jane, our navigatrix and allons-y. Off we go.

Now after about 2 hours on the road I get crabby. It's a bit tense finding your way with Al driving this behemoth. And he's doing a good job but he nearly cleaned us and a French woman up when he failed to give way to his left at one stage. He squeezed my knee in apology.  i know it was just a momentary lapse in concentration but I'm a panic merchant and I don't cope well with adrenaline.

Time for a lunch stop. Found a good relais on a roundabout. They all seem to be good. I love that all these tradies - chantiers? - stop for a 3 course 'formule midi' - at noon. There they are in their grubby work clothes slicing off gourmet cheeses after a good meal complete with vin de table.

Meanwhile, I had a delicious poelie of coquilles St Jacques - a creamy pan fried mix of julienned veges and scallops - and Al had a potful of moules - mussels - in a cream sauce and frites. We both pronounced our food delicious.

We didn't make it to our destination though. Stopped instead for a tour of the Chateau of Chenonceaux; huge tourist attraction that I'd read about as a student of French. The place was amazing but it was brimful of tourists - why am I always the one who has to concede? - and school kids, flashing their cameras on the tapestries despite the constant warnings not to. The village of Chenonceaux was pretty, quaint and equally touristique. Still, glad to have seen the place although I have to be in the mood to 'absorb' the feeling. Again, what am I? A clairvoyant with a mainline to Catherine de Medicis?

I couldn't face another 2 and a half hour drive so I suggested that we visit Loches, only 27k away.

Al agreed of course; he usually does. We drove through some beautiful tilled countryside to get here on roads barely wider than our van. When we arrived at Loches, having given Jane no new address, we tried following the signs to the 'camping'. We missed our way and went up tortuous lanes between old stone houses. Was so narrow we had to pull our side mirrors in. Always gets fraught at this stage. I think I started crying!

'We've got to love each other,' I said to Al, because up until then I'd been screaming abuse at him.

Jane, the bitch, was leading us a merry dance. 'Turn around where possible' she says, in her clipped British tones.

I switched her off and we winged it. Al finally found a lane he could reverse into. I leapt out and danced behind the van, winding my arms. Eventually we were back on track and I wondered if tonight would perhaps be the night, such was the frisson in my loins when I saw the 'camping' sign.

So we made it here to the 'Camping La Citadelle. 

And as soon as we pulled into the outer car park and saw the piscine - swimming pool - and the decheterie - place where you empty your van's waste water - we both declaimed: this place looks familiar.

It was. We came here last year. We'd already wandered around the citadel in the rain here. I caught a cold from 'Paisley Pants' - can't link to the post on my iPad - and got food poisoning from a crepe with Rocquefort cheese.

No matter. It's mild, the sun's intermittently shining and warmish and I've washed and dried my laundry which is good because I'm down to my last pair of undies.

Another Chablis? Pourquoi pas - why not?

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