Chinon 5th September 2011
I did a lot of swearing today.
We set off from Azay Le Rideau after a lovely breakfast at the Hotel de Biencourt. We made quite the impression at breakfast because our disabled room door opened straight onto the salon so after Luke took a while fiddling with the lock we burst giggling into the room full of people being studiously quiet over their croissants. The English couple looked at us very disapprovingly and things didn't improve when i decided to try Pamplemousse (grapefruit) juice and nearly spat it all over the table in disgust, then collapsed in hysterics. Luke decided he liked it and drank two glasses with quite the squinty face.
|See that door on the left? That's the door to the room we were in.|
There is a scene in Groundhog Day when Phil goes to have a shower and there's no hot water. He tells the owner about it. She laughs dismissively and says "Well, there wouldn't be today." That, right there, is Monday in France. We got up and looked forward to buying picnic supplies at the little grocery store and charcuiterie. All closed. It's Monday, silly. They wouldn't be open today.
At the one open boulangerie we encountered two other Australians on the same rental bikes, expressing the same confusing over the Monday thing. We managed to buy eclairs and a baguette to go with our pilfered cream cheese from breakfast.
Fortified, we set off into the forest of Chinon. Except we didn't, for about an hour and a half. After missing the very first turn and riding up a steep hill, we managed to make it into the town of Cheille. Which we circled and were lost in for a very long time. Our official map and directions were dreadful and we ended up riding in a huge loop, heading back where we came from. Our second take on the town wasn't much better as we set off on the wrong road again. This was made worse by the steep hills. It seems every wrong turn involved going down a hill and riding back up it again. This was repeated throughout the day.
|This was early on in the day. We found some abandoned troglodyte-style sheds with jars of preserved fruit in them.|
The one good thing that came about from our wrong turns was eating a delightful peach from a wild roadside tree.
|View from the road. We passed this three times.|
|YOU SHALL NOT PASS!|
(Actually, it says NO FIRES but my French was crap at this point of the holiday)
Our ride was supposed to be 30km but I suspect it was 40 by the time we finally made it into Chinon at 5pm, exhausted and less than impressed. It should have been a relatively pleasant ride but we spent the whole time worrying we were about to be lost in the forest. We also didn't see any birds or wildlife, perhaps due to the wind.
|A very simple peasant's lunch of bread and chocolat eclairs|
The side trips we went on weren't very interesting either.
|Wondering if we're on the right road, yet again.|
|Sunflower: I'm an individual!|
Meanwhile, Luke's front brakes and rear gears failed. This made the steep descent into Chinon rather interesting.
Thankfully the Hotel De France in Chinon was swish and welcoming.
|This is the size of a standard room in France.|
Our pre-paid meal at Bonne France restaurant wasn't that great. The room was packed with diners and the lone waiter was rushed off his feet. He spent the whole time running around like Basil Fawlty trying to serve everyone quickly. We were last served and it was fairly ordinary. The strawberry soup made me sneeze.
|Strawberry soup, the dessert of champions. Or masochists.|
|Our view of the fortress from the bedroom window.|
In the garage of the hotel was this car:
A little parked in, perhaps. But handy in a tight spot.