Fields and valleys

Breakfast, again, only from eight thirty. That’s a bit later than we’d like, but then I realize it’s the weekend! Weekdays don’t matter much when you travel by bike, except that you have to remember that shops and restaurants might be closed on specific days. In France, that’s Sunday afternoon/evening and Monday. Today is Sunday. When we set out around ten, the sun is shining and it’s t-shirt weather. We’re cycling mostly westward, so the sun is heating up our backs nicely. I had made a note that we’d have to stop in a store to buy food, since we’re sleeping in a hotel without restaurant tonight and all the nearby restaurants are (it’s Sunday) closed. We have a quick look on Google maps and find a Carrefour supermarket that’s open in the morning, that’s our first goal of the day. Apparently Sunday is market day here and it smells divine when we make our way through the village of Savennières, with a brief stop to look at its ancient (10th century) church.

The Loire river is wide here, with many secondary branches that embrace narrow, long islands in the stream. We slept on such an island last night and see a few more today, A few times, when we’re cycling next to water today, we’re just not sure any more what the water is: is it a tributary? a distributary? a secondary branch? Doesn’t matter, the sun is shining, we’re on the road, we’re cheerful. In one of the many ponds outside the dike we see a few nutria playing in the water. Further on, along a wooded stretch of the trail, we even encounter a green snake or slowworm quickly slithering across the bike path right in front of us. It’s bright green and pretty long, no idea what that is. After out shop stop we continue to the next village, where there should be a few lunch options. We ignore the touristy village center and cycle on to a guingette, which is supposed to be a casual food/drink place near water. This one has a lovely terrace with shaded tables, pretty empty when we arrive but by the time our starters get to the table it’s filling up with noisy families out for lunch, kids, parents and grandparents together. The food quality is decent, the price reasonable, no wonder it’s a popular place.

I eat a bit much and my legs feel weak when we set of again, good thing we have the electric motor. We decide to switch from the busy route on the Loire banks to the parallel route following the Thau river valley (that is a tributary, I looked it up). It’s much quieter, no cars, no other travelers, just big fields with farm buildings in the distance. We see a large hare in a field, a monastery on a rocky promontory and a Colibri butterfly, which is just the weirdest thing flying around in these parts. NEVER AGAIN AM I TRAVELLING WITHOUT MY BIG CAMERA, you’ll have to excuse the bad quality of some of these pictures.

The wind picks up in the afternoon, the sky becomes a bit more adventurous, it’s only just warm enough to cycle in a t-shirt. My battery level goes down alarmingly quick, I realize I have made an error in judgement when we have 10 km to do, but only 10% left on the battery and there’s a big ascent near the end! I dial down the assistance to the lowest level and under continuous encouragement from Arne push my way through the last kilometers. The battery runs dry just as we enter the driveway of the hotel. We’re sleeping in a castle, there’s still a wedding reception ongoing but we’re cordially received and offered a drink in the salon, before we’re shown to our room. Shower, jacuzzi and a picnic out in the courtyard: a half bottle of Bordeaux red wine, baguette, cheese and meats. I type my journal while Arne reads a book. I still can’t find out what that slithering animal was..

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