August 20, 2013
Distance: 20.5 miles Climbing: 1551.8 ft
We woke to another beautiful morning. So far, France is treating us well with good weather, great food and friendly people. Apparently, we had camped at someone’s fishing spot and woke to the sounds of a lure hitting the water and the reel pulling it in.
Since our long stay at the campground, I had taken control of the GPS and determining our route. We traveled along the Loire for a while until I noticed signs indicating that the bike route made a turn away from the river. Figuring it would be nice to get away from the traffic for a bit, I followed the signs up a hill. I wasn’t so sure I had made a good choice until we went through an arch built into the limestone.
We ended up dead-ending at a troglodyte home or cave dwelling. There were a number of signs explaining what we were looking at, but with my rusty French, we could only understand the very basics. What we gathered was that the caves were originally made from people removing the tuffeau limestone and then people moved into them.
We couldn’t quite figure out what was going on with whatever we stumbled upon. There were a number of rooms closed off with danger signs, but then there was a working bathroom and pizza oven and the room full of household items on display. Maybe someone is setting up something more touristy.
After poking around for 20 or so minutes, we got back on the road. I continued to follow the bike route signs. It wasn’t most direct route, but we went through some beautiful countryside. There were miles of vineyards in every direction and the roads were quiet so Chandler and I were able to ride beside each other and chat. It was a really pleasant afternoon.
After a little while we came to a split in the river, where a tributary came into the Loire. We found a little shaded park on the bank of the river, and made another round of burritos with our leftovers. Canned ratatouille is available at all the markets, and once propped up with a some spices makes a great tortilla filling for a quick cycling meal. Our route towards the farm led us away from the Loire to the south east, along the tributary.
We reached Chinon in the early evening and found a campground in the center of town. As far as campgrounds go, French campgrounds are the best. There is generally area set aside for just bicycle tourists and our rate is much cheaper than the giant caravans. The campground in Chinon also featured a bit of evening entertainment, a musician.