“Very pretty!” said Gandalf. […] “I am looking for someone to share an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone!”
“I should think so – in these parts! We are plain quite folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them.
J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
So, dear reader, why have I decided to start this post with an English-authored quote about an adventure? Of course I have also been pushed into a trip by a venerable bearded man (have you ever looked at a photo of Nelson?), I share the same fondness as Mr. Baggins for punctual dinners, and the special relationship between British and Loire people is sufficiently well known (just think about Jeanne d’Arc and Anne de Bretagne), but the reason is simply the city where we decided to begin our bike trip: Nantes, the birthplace of Jules Verne (also of Fouché, but let’s be more peaceful pour l’instant).
There, with no fewer extravagant machines than those devised by Verne (from the airplane which initially refused to carry our bikes to biomechanical animals like the cousin of Aragog displayed below), we began our odyssey in the historical French harbour. The city and the first 120 km were crossed fast and efficiently by our dear bikes, with the minor inconvenience of a loose handlebar and the great joy of meeting our first host, the marvellous Giulia.
The second step of the journey, Angers, and the third one, Saumur, were similarly straightforward and very enjoyable. We had extremely nice hosts – Fréd et sa famille, and Adèle -, wonderful wine and cheese, cute little castles, and of course the lovely tender yells of sergeant Nelson ordering me to go faster and faster (the interested reader may see below the outcome).
However, the most special day was without any doubt yesterday. Everything seemed so bucolic and placid (just imagine a French version of the opening of Lynch’s Blue Velvet, but without the heart stroke and the severed ear… well maybe it’s better without anything), and we only had to do 50 km from Saumur to Tours passing by Azay-le-Rideau. Nevertheless, the queen of bike routes – Eurovelo no. 6 – was taking a small detour, so why not to try good old regional French roads? So there were we, misled by Google maps into a not so old, not so regional, but definitely very French highway with cars driving at more than 100 km/h. And then? Well, we followed our Rousseaunian convictions to lost ourself in a nice Jurassic forest in the middle of nowhere, then we followed some lumberjacks“ “intimate and natural” tiny roads, visited Azay-le-Rideau… And voilà! We ended up our day being hosted in a beautiful 13th-century Loire château with one entire wing of the palace for ourselves, and with a full exquisite dinner having been prepared for us (you can see below the outside of our modest livingroom.
However, today it’s July 14th, the price of crêpes keeps rising, les grands seigneurs des châteaux de la Loire receive too much money from us – poor peasant cyclists – in the form of tithe (sorry, tickets), and one sans-(bike)-culotte (Nelson) and one avec-culotte (me) have to reach Paris to storm the Bastille, so… On se revoit sur le prochain post!