Bagneau-s-Loing to Montalivet les Bains

01-05-08  Thursday – Bagneau to Orleans
7 hrs 45 min 13.9 Av. 108kms Total 669kms

Woke up at 07:10 and on the road by 08:40. The day started out nice with just the head winds, even the sun came out once in a while, which gave us some hope. The ride today was through open fields again which didn’t help with the wind but it was nice ridding. We generally tried to go as straight as possible towards Orleans following a mixture of District and rural roads.
It was all going good until around midday a new cold front came in and heavy clouds appeared the temperature dropped and it started to rain again.
We missed the first couple showers but as we were getting into Orleans it was getting late, we were tired and when we saw the next shower coming we decided to ride through it. It was a bad idea because it was the worst one of the day with torrential rain. The streets started to flood and Monique fell when she hit a pothole that was covered with water. We took shelter in a bus stop and seeing that the cars were passing at speed were throwing all this water up we stood on top of the bench. But still even when the drivers saw that we were  getting wet from the spray they did not bother to slow down. Even when there was a stop light up the road and they had to stop there.
Maybe it was just this part of town which didn’t look like the nicest, still the rudeness of these people was something else.
Only when we decided to continue this lady stopped her car and allowed us to get on the street and ride, while she rode patiently behind us. Like that old saying, there is an asshole in every crowd, this was the opposite, a nice person between all the assholes. Tip, avoid going into Orleans from the East on the D960.
Naturally by the time we found the camping the rain stopped and the sun even came out, what luck, we seem to be getting it by the bucket full lately.
The camping in Orleans is difficult to find, it is located in Parc Floral in Olivet, (south side of the city). Cheap clean but when we were there it was really soggy from all that rain.
We met this couple from Holland (also touring) but they go to an area by car find a place to park it load the bikes and take a week or three to tour the area, but the weather has gotten to them so they cut it short and were heading back to their car.

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After our 2007 tour were we were robbed in Parga, Greece I have devised this simple and cheap alarm system.
It’s a 12db purse alarm, it goes off if the pin is pulled.

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Views from the D43 heading to Beaumont du Gatinais. Click to view larger.

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Same picture as above, continued. Click to view larger.

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More of the D43.

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It looks boring but ridding through open fields does have its charms.

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Don’t really know what they used these structures for. This is a huge one we came across in Geaumont du Gatinais. Click to view larger.

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Yours truly again posing on the rough D151 heading to St. Luip des Vignes. We were both dressed warm from the strong and cold winds.

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Heaving a breather on the D9 just before Combreux. The sign says the rest.

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Looking back on the D9, this area was very nice to cycle through. But as you can see the rain has returned.

02-05-08  Friday – Orleans to Cande-Sur-Beufron
6 hrs 30 min 14.1 Av. 91kms Total 760kms

Woke up at 07:45 and on the road by 09:30. We took our time this morning as it was supposed to be an easy day riding along the river Loire and it seemed at first, but the kms ended up being a bit more than what we wanted so at the end we were very tired.
We got out of Orleans following the D14 and at one of its suburbs we saw this tourist office were we stopped and asked for the best way to go down river and were shown this cycling path that follows the Loire.
We have to say that this cycling path is great, mostly well paved with some unpaved sections.
It crosses the river at Meung-sur-Loire and continues on the West side all the way to Blois.
On the way we met this Dutch school teacher Joke (pronounced Yoke), that was traveling from Paris to Tours on a borrowed bike. She seems very interested in touring by bicycle but the bike she was riding was not really set up for long distance touring and was giving her some problems so we gave her one of our cards so she could check out our site and get some tips.
At Blois we crossed the river and doubled back about 4kms in search of this campsite but it was still closed, so we headed back to Blois when Monique got a flat tire. Yes she got a flat on the Schwalbe Marathon Plus, so apparently they can be punctured. The culprit was a razor sharp stone/crystal that looked like a tiny sharks tooth, that’s about as good as I can describe it.
Anyway while replacing the inner tube this young French couple rode by and we asked them if they knew of a camping nearby and well to cut a long story short they used my mobile phone to call the tourist office in Blois and get some information for us, great couple. They too were touring the Loire, going down river but without camping equipment.
The **** star camping at Cande-sur Beufron was nice but expensive and noisy with all the kids around, give us a municipal camping any day.
Overall the day was very nice, sunny, warm, quiet cycling paths and no hills.
All ready we have decided to do a tour along the whole length of the Loire in the future.

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Breaking camp on a beautiful and dry morning.

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The beautiful stream that ran next to the camping.

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It wasn’t long before we found the Loire cycling path.

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Some sections were shared with motorists so they had these signs up.

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Taking a break after the town of Beung sur Loire.

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Old bridge over the Loire at Beaugency.

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The sweet smell from these fields of rapeseed plants was very nice indeed.

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Mushroom cloud coming from the nuclear power plant near Avaray.

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Your truly again, this time in front of a large field of rapeseed plants.

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We stopped for lunch and had this fantastic view of the Loire. Click to view larger.

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Old bridge at Blois. Click to view larger.

03-05-08 Saturday – Cande-sur Beuvron to La Ville-aux-Dames
2 hrs 30 min 16.3 Av. 41kms Total 801kms

Woke up at 07:00 and were on the road by 08:30. This morning we had the camera break down on us.
At first I thought the batteries were dead but after replacing them with our rechargeables it still would not do anything, which made me really upset.
So we continued on the D751 to Chaumont-sur-Loire were we visited the tourist office for some information on campsites than went to the tourist shop to get some alkaline batteries which made the camera work again. Apparently the battery charger is only partially charging the batteries.
The day was nice and warm and there were many people out, the roads were quite busy and when we tried to visit a couple chateau’s there were lines to get in so we only got some views from the road.
The D751 is a nice road (without a shoulder) but all the drivers were courteous and gave us enough space.
The camping here is OK for half a rest day, clean, quiet, fairly priced and a large super market nearby.
We set up next to three caravans full of Germans and had the usual where are we from, where are we going, how heavy are the bikes, how many kilometers per day, etc… Nice people, they treated us to some coffee and also charged our phones, great.
When everything was done and we had dinner we chilled out and watched the sunset with a couple six packs of Kronnenburg while listening to Oasis, The Verve, Pink Floyd and a few others.
A nice and easy short day.
Tomorrow it’s going to be a long day, we plan to cycle over 100kms to reach Poiters. From there it would only be two more days to reach the Atlantic Ocean 🙂

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Early morning on the D751 right after Cande sur Beuvron.

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Entering another area just before Mosnes on the D751.

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Our best picture of Chateau Amboise.

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Another great reason to visit France.

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Camping at La Ville aux Dames is actually a horse paddock surrounded by campers and tents. We were glad we set up upwind.
You can also see the first batch of cold ones hanging from my bike.

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Dinner was light this evening.

04-05-08 Sunday – La Ville-au-Dames to St. Georges-les-Geillargeaux
7 hrs 50 min 14.6 Av. 115kms Total 918kms

We got up early this morning 06:15 and were on the road by 08:00, it took a bit longer for me after all those beers 🙂
It was a good idea leaving early because riding through Tours was really nice there was hardly any traffic. It was also nice to finally get in and out of a city without any hassles.
We followed the D86 out of Tours than followed the roads D17/08/57/58/18 along the Vienne river and we continued on the D1 were we found out it was the wrong way and had to cycle West for 10kms over this very tough hill to get on the next valley and the river Clain, OOPS, not very nice in the afternoon heat.
Anyway it was a nice ride the weather a bit warm, the warmest we’ve ridden so far and the scenery was beautiful, I think that was the main reason we took the wrong turn. Just cycling along small country roads on a nice day and forgetting to look at the map 🙂
The camping here is clean but way too many rules, here’s a couple, everything but the toilets close at 21:30, no Bermudas in the pool, only swim shorts ?!? and a bunch others.
With all the rules it looked more like a camp for teenagers, we also thought it a bit expensive at €15.
We also met this very nice Dutch couple who have traveled extensively through Africa, Asia and the USA. It was their first day of a six week holiday through Europe.
We had a nice chat over some drinks before crashing in our tent.
It was a long day and after a few beers in the evening it didn’t take long for us to fall asleep.

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Waiting for the bicycle traffic light in Tours.

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Cathedral in Tours. Click to view larger.

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Pretty fountain.

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The old bridge in Tours.

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Pont de Ruan, about 10kms south of Tours. Click to view larger.

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Taking a break in Thilouze.

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On the D8 heading for St. Epain.

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Our homes on wheels.

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This area was full of small lakes but unfortunatly they were all marked with private property signs. Click to view larger.

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We came across yet another sign of the St. Jacobs route or Santiago de Compostela route in the city of Chatellerault.

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Riding through a park in Chezelle, near Chatellerault.

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The big clib on the D15 right after the village of Bouneuil s Vienne were we found out we were following the wrong river. Click to view larger.

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A beautiful chateau at Le Fou from the D15.

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The very impressive castle at Dissay. Click to view larger.

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Our view from the camping. Dark clouds are moving in again. Click to view larger.

05-05-08   Monday – St. Georges to Couhe
5 hrs. 15 min. 12.3 Av. 65kms Total 983kms

Woke up around 07:30 and were on the road by 09:30. We were very tired and weren’t too keen on getting up early this morning.
Last night just before we went to sleep this heavy thunderstorm blew in with a lot of rain. We had hoped it would clear up by morning but the day ended up being gray with a steady light rain the whole day.
After the initial couple wrong turns this morning we finally got on the D4 heading towards Poitiers.
Not the best city to get around in on a rainy Monday morning. A lot of traffic and a nasty hill to climb trying to find the tourist office. When we did we got all the information we needed to get out of this city and the best way to find the camping at Couhe.
Today’s ride was very nice even with the gray weather. We were heading South on the D4 riding through the villages of Liguge, Vivonne, Voulon and finally Couhe, with very little traffic. The country side around here is very nice and we even saw a deer running across a field.  All in all it was a very nice day.
I am noticing that Monique is getting a bit tired now, we’ve been on the road since the start of the tour 12 days now. I am hoping to get to the coast and a much needed rest day for the both of us. We talked about stopping already but we really like to reach the Atlantic coast (and maybe better weather) to stop.
The camping here is ok I guess it’s located on the river Dive, next to the very busy (dual carriageway) D10, down a 1km long hill. It had just opened but had a some canned food for dinner.
Anyway tomorrow is off to St. Jean d’Angly, it’s going to be a longer ride and the same weather is expected.
Because of the steady rainfall we only took a handful of pictures today

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City fall in Poitiers.

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The smile on Monique’s face says it all. It was gray, cold, rainy and windy all day. Being such a crappy day we only took a handful of pictures.

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Monique liked this chateau tucked away in a small wood on the D4 near Vivonne looked like Dracula’s castle.

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A small far near a bit further on the D4.

06-05-08  Tuesday – Couhe to St. Jean d’Angely
6 hrs. 35 min. 14.1 Av. 93kms Total 1077kms

Woke up at 07:00 and the road by 09:00. It was a bit tough getting out of Couhe this morning, meaning we had to climb as soon as we left the camping, but we managed it and got on the D14 heading west along quiet country roads. It was a clear day and it promised to get warm (finally).
We passed Rom and at Lezay we turned heading SW on an even more rural road the D105 heading for Chef-Boutonne. From there we continued on the D110 to Aubigne and on to Aulnay.
Now I must add that so far this has been one of the most enjoyable rides of the tour. Very scenic rural roads through very beautiful country side and the weather was perfect, just a great ride.
At Aulnay we saw again the sign for the Camino de Santiago but it looked like a dirt track so we decided to continue on, on the D107 to Nuaille-sur-Boutonne than just followed small rural roads to St Jean d’Angely.
This last bit was tiring as the afternoon sun got very hot +/-35° with a couple long climbs to get there.
This city looks to be a very beautiful and we would have liked to hang around, but time presses and we need to continue on to the coast for the very awaited Atlantic ocean and a rest day on the beach. In the future we would have to plan a tour so we’ll have a bit more extra time
Tomorrow I’m expecting a very confusing day as I do not see an easy way into Rowan. On the map there’s only dual carriage way “N” roads heading in.
But that’s for tomorrow, that’s it for me tonight I’m going to sleep, Monique is already out.

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Breaking camp in Couhe. This camping was OK with a small river passing through but the busy N10 was bloody noisy all night.

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On the D14 heading to Lezay.

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Market day in Lezay.

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This is a real nice area to cycle through. We even saw this sign on the D105 just before St. Vincent la Chatre.

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Found this nice place to rest and have a cup of tea in Chef Boutonne.

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It took a while but we finally found the D110.

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As the day progressed it also got very hot, we’re taking a breather on the D129 before Aulnay

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The sign says it all.

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We were just thinking of a bench were we could sit and have a cup of tea when “walla” the perfect spot.
Funny how it works out sometimes.

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Beautiful scenery on the way to Aulnay. Click to view larger.

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We knew we were still on the right track when we saw yet another camino sign.

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Instead of the dirt track we opted for this much smoother D107 to Nuaille s Boutonne.

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Getting some information in St. Jean d’ Angely.

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The very nice camping in St. Jean d’Angely. Click to view larger.

07-05-08  Wednesday – St. Jean d’Angely to Montalivet les-Bains
7 hrs. 30 min. 14.1 Av. 107kms. Total 1183

Woke up at 07:00 and were on the road by 08:45. Getting out of St. Jean was easy enough we just took the D18 which was heading SW towards St. Savinian.
Just before the town we were flagged down by this French man that had toured for 2 years and 7 months around the world with his wife. He had a photo album with him and showed us pictures of his travels. The only problem was that his English was very poor and our French is really nonexistent so the chat was very short. We were invited to spend the night at his place about 15kms back but we had to decline.
We exchanged cards so we could send him the photos we took.
His home page is at http://www.accordeonosvelos.free.fr/indexaccueill.htm but it’s in French.
A couple kms after St. Savinian, we turned off this main road and got on the rural D119 still heading SW. We rode past the villages of Les Essards, Corme Royal and Saint Romain-de-Benet were we ran into problems with road works. We tried to avoid getting on the N150, and at first we succeeded by going through some back roads, but it was taking way too long and eventually we had to get on this very busy N150 to get into Rowan.
In the end it was the right thing to do as we only had to wait an hour for the ferry to Port Bloc.
Now for me it was a great achievement to reach the Atlantic ocean as it had been 30 years since I last saw it when in the USMC in South Carolina.
The ferry ride was short and uneventful, and when we got off at Port Bloc we immediately found one of the most beautiful cycling paths. It wound through pine woods and sand dunes. It was flat and only a few other walkers and cyclists.
We eventually reached Soulac-sur-Mer and after checking out all the campsites it was really not what we were looking for so we continued South to Montalivet, but  even there the camping’s were not good so we ended up at the municipal camping.
We did go into town and had a very nice steak for dinner and watched our first sunset over the Atlantic.
This camping was very basic to say the least, and after we returned from dinner hoping to take a shower we couldn’t because there were no lights in the buildings lol.
Tomorrow we will continue looking for a better place to camp so we can take the long awaited rest day.

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Having a chat with Gerard on the D18 just before St. Savinien. Great guy, shame about the language barrier.
We would have liked to pick his brain about that amazing adventure.

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Giant grass sausage. Click to view larger.

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St. Savinien looking north. Click to view larger.

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St. Savinien looking south. Click to view larger.

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Heading south along the river Charente on the D119.

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Finally on the Atlantic coast at Royan. A great moment for us.

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Small beach next to the ferry dock at Royan. Click to view larger.

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Looking across the small bay at St. Georges de Didonne. Click to view larger.

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Waiting for our ride.

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The fantastic cycling path before Soulac sur Mer.

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Even more great cycling paths.

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The small beach at Montalivet les Bains. Click to view larger.

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The happy couple after a very tough tour to reach the Atlantic ocean.

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Our first sunset over the Atlantic.

Week 3 – Montalivet les Bains, France to Estella, Spain