Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Langeais 6th September 2011 - Le Tail Wind

Langeais 6 Sept 2011

A much better day today. Woke up regretfully at eight, sore, tired and not wanting to go anywhere. For once we had a clock in our hotel room (very rare) but it was so bright it kept waking us up all night. Breakfast at the Best Western Hotel De France was impressive, the best we've had. So naturally I pilfered a lot of it for lunch.

Leaving Chinon, the fortress in the background
Crossing the Vienne River
 We set off down the river Vienne, following the official Loire a Velo bike path. Today we were determined to ignore the instructions if they were too obtuse and just follow the green Velo signs. Thankfully, that's the way we were going anyway and the whole day the terrain was flat. Early on we cycled through beautiful vineyards, collapsing stone walls and postcard picturesque countryside full of flowers.

Vineyards near Avoine
A defunct disco. It used to be where all the cool aliens hung out.
Had a slight drama when I got a bee in my bonnet. Well, my arafat hat, actually. It flew in through the side and I madly whipped it off and promptly dropped it. Luke improved the situation by running over it under full brake so I now have a souvenir rip in the hat. Charm, adds a bit of charm.

Continued on easily via Avoine (avoine and av another) where we stopped to buy eclairs at midday on the dot. We know it was midday because the church bells played a rather nice little tune before having their own typical dong-a-pocalypse. Could only buy cafe eclairs but they were still superb. Got caught in the lunchtime rush which occurs before everything shuts at 12.30. It takes a bit of getting used to, everything being closed in the middle of the day but we kind of like the mentality behind it all.
We found a dead mole on the side of the cycle path. Naturally we poked it with a stick
The gusty cool winds of the morning increased as the day went on but thankfully they were mostly side on or behind us the whole day. This is the same wind that made life hell paddling down the river. Much better when it pushes you along on the bike.
Gusty wind and whitecaps at Brehemont - we canoed into this the other day
We stopped on the side of the road and ate blackberries from someone's fenceline. They are a bit rare at the moment as its late in the season.

We ate lunch under a bridge on the Indre, watching fish lazily swimming by and watching the blue dragonflies.

Lunch stop on the Indre River
We followed the Loire, took a 2km side trip to look at Chateau Rigny Usse (the Sleeping Beauty castle) and for the second time decided that we couldn't be arsed looking at the inside (we were here in 2008). After a while you get chateau fatigue, especially as a lot of them are sparsely furnished or vastly altered.

That wasn't the case with the chateau/fortress in Langeais which hasn't changed since the 1500s. It maintains a middle-ages feel and focuses on the marriage of Charles XIII to Anne of Britanny (their union finally made Britanny part of France). Poor Anne was only 14, probably didn't get much say in the matter and she looks generally grumpy in her paintings.

Aside from the original 15th century furniture, the chateau has a lot of well preserved tapestries. Previously my attitude to tapestries has been fairly disinterested, mainly because the ones I've seen are faded and raggy looking so it's hard to make out the images. At Langeais they're really well preserved and tell interesting stories.

Also, they're very funny.

"Do you have any rubber nipples?"

Look at the dogs, they love it.
Pole Dancing Jesus - or have we interpreted that wrong?
This is a 15th century walker for a baby
The chateau is like a mullet in a way - fortress at the front, party at the back (or non-fortified castle and gardens).

View of the back of the chateau from the ruined fort behind it.
We were rather excited to find a huge treehouse in the garden, past the AD994 ruins but alas it was 6.30 and the gardener kicked us out before he raised the drawbridge. Luke and I had already played with the fully working drawbridge before we came in - and didn't get caught, which was a bonus.

Best. Treehouse. Ever.

Quick! Smile! The security guy is coming to kick us out!
Our cycle route today was 40km but we could have kept going quite easily because it was so gloriously flat. Still, it was nice to get to Langeais and check in to our latest hotel, l'Ange est Reveur B&B.
L'Ange Est Reveur in the background

View of the chateau, looming over the back garden of the B&B
This one is a little different to the previous places, it's located above an ornamental homewares-type store run by the owner, who may or may not be gay, not that there's anything wrong with that. We have run of the upstairs as there's no-one else here. Our room is huge, exceptionally tastefully decorated with hemp flooring, carefully aged furniture and a very comfortable bed.

Having visited the chateau and been kicked out we wandered around in search of dinner. Tonight we opted for a cheap bistro that served pasta and bruschettas and it was just as fabulous as the expensive places. Perhaps that's just hunger but we enjoyed our interaction with the owner.

So now it's getting late. We've happily spent an hour surfing the net and blogging - we were just too exhausted last night.

Tomorrow is our last day, we ride back to Tours and give back the bikes at our car park. Hope the car is still there.

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