One of those days where, when I set off, I really had no idea where it would end. I guessed somewhere between Blois and Orléans, the former being only 35 km from Amboise, the latter about 100 km, probably nearer Orléans than Blois.
My immediate intention was to continue to follow the excellent Loire à Vélo / Eurovelo 6 / Eurovelo 3 route that I had been following yesterday. However, the signs seemed to want to send me first to Chenonceau (where there’s a beautiful château which I’ve visited previously) just to the south of Amboise so I abandoned the route and decided to follow the road to the south of the Loire. It being another (yes, another!) bank holiday here in France (there are three of them in May), the traffic was low level and there weren’t any lorries. I wanted to put a few kilometreson the clock – my average has edged below 75 km/day – so following the roads would help to start rectifying this. Fickle as ever, however, when I saw a sign for the Loire á Vélo route in Mosnes, I decided to follow it. It was a good move as the route continued to be the high quality one that I had followed from Tours to Amboise and generally well signposted. I did take the wrong turn just south of Blois and this resulted in me following the road again for a while but I was soon tempted back to the cycle route.
In Blois I paused to eat my fruit – it’s becoming a regular thing for me to eat a banana, apple and avocado during te cycling day – and have a coffee. The sky was looking ominously grey/black but only a few sports of rain fell. Phew!
Any celebrations were, however, a little premature. About 10 km north of Blois the wind picked up and the rain started. Fortunetly the wind was heading in the same direction as me which made the rain significantly more bearable. The many people on bikes heading in the opposite direction weren’t quite so lucky. And when I say ‘many’ I mean it; it was, at times, almost as busy as the Camino de Santiago back in northern Spain. I wondered if there were as many cyclists heading north with me but you don’t tend to meet them as they are permanently either behind you or ahead of you. Most cyclists were keeping their spirts up and responded in kind to my ‘bonjour’. I made a point of saying it to every single cyclist today and was amazed to find that probably about a third of them blanked me. This started to annoy me to the extent that later in the day I began to shout ‘miserable b*****d’ in their direction after they had passed. None chased after me to thump me.
On Twitter someone suggested that I stop at Beaugency as there were a couple of campsites and it looked like a nice place. I was tempted but as it was still raining it would have meant hanging around the campsite waiting for things to dry up. It made more sense to continue.
The rain did stop and I arrived in Oréans, a little damp, late in the afternoon. I found the main square and ordered a beer. I’d been to Orléans once before but it wasn’t anything like this. I need to return in the morning to have a better look around. I was tempted to take a hostel or hotel but the Rough Guide mentioned a campsite to the south of the city. Should I? Yes, I should! It was a good call and worth every second of the 7 km cycle from the centre. Campsite owners of Europe take note: these are the reasons why I rate it as probably in the top 3 campsites I have ever visited on these cycling trips…
- It’s not the size of Manhatten
- The people on reception give you the impression they want you there
- It makes special provision for cyclists with a ‘free camping’ area
- It’s not expensive for cyclists – €7.60 tonight
- The wash block is heated!
- It’s eco-friendly
- The shop is open and sells decent stuff
- It’s beautiful
- There’s no riff raff (not yet anyway)
I can’t fault the place. OK, I have yet to spend the night here but my hopes are high. It’s called Camping d’Olivet and is highly recommended by CyclingEurope.org (that’s me by the way).
Tomorrow I’ve got to head in the direction of Paris. I haven’t yet given the route a second thought. Have any of you ever done it? Please advise if that’s the case. Thanks.