Three nights of tranquillity by the riverbank. We think this Aire at Roches l’Eveque was a former municipal campsite. Right against the river Loir with a quiet road behind us and beyond that a cliff face with troglodyte dwellings some maybe more desirable than others. Buddie is facing the river and we have enjoyed sitting out under the shade of a tree in front and watching the river go by. Ducks, Swans, Grebes and a giant mouse… I should really google the name! We saw several of them one year on the Canal du Midi. So far just one sighting on the riverbank in front of me, he grinned up at me and scuttled out of sight before I could reach for the camera. John saw a pair of Kingfishers and they have completely hidden from view since. Today a red squirrel on the riverbank opposite came out to entertain John and I made it out on time to watch its acrobatics too.
The riverbank opposite is an alternative lifestyle choice to the cave dwellers. Strips of land down to the river have been adapted and transformed by sheds, garden tables and barbeques with a boat or two tied up alongside. There has not been much activity over there other than a couple of them being tidied up for the winter maybe.
David & Marilyn, a couple of vans down from us have been here 10 days, we can understand why!
By happy coincidence we had planned to be in this area when I read about Lavardin in a French magazine. Lavardin is 5km from here and is one of the Beau Villages de France. Being ever optimistic and well motivated, I assured John we could give it a go on the bikes and if the worst came to the worst he could always return for the van and pick me up! Satnav set a cycle route and weyhay! We were on our way! My cycle lessons to date on the French cycle paths must have paid off; helped by the quiet roads and separate cycle path around the roundabout and the fact that through the next village of Montoire sur le Loir, there was a walking/cycle path alongside the road, we made it to the level crossing where satnav told us to take a left. There were traffic lights at this busier junction and pedestrians to avoid, so we did come off the bikes to walk across rather than risk me mowing someone down. This took us on to quiet country lanes and ‘route barree’ signs. We rode on regardless in the hope pedestrians and bikes could get through. The route barree was at the old bridge leading into Lavardin where work was being done to strengthen its foundations. A floating pontoon bridge had been placed across the river for pedestrians and John bravely tested its weight for him and bike before I ventured across. All good adventure! Lavardin was just as described, the Lavoir or wash house on the river has a moveable platform which can be adjusted depending on river levels. Pretty gardens, well loved cottages and welcoming squares and up the hill (power level 2 applied!) a pretty terraced café with welcoming outside tables and parasols at the foot of the chateau and across from the historic church, famed for its Romanesque wall paintings.
All I needed was a comfy seat for a while and a cool drink, no competition then, the café won over the historic church!
We cycled the 5km back with no need for satnav and I was so pleased to have completed and enjoyed my first proper bike run in France! Seasoned cyclists may not understand my delight, but that was an Everest moment for me! And no sore bits next day!
David and Marilyn told us of another route that was quiet though a bit longer. Marilyn and I swapped sore back stories whilst John and David chatted solar power and David kindly charged my battery pack for me yesterday while we did bike run no.2
First of all we had a stroll through the hamlet here.. no commerce other than a restaurant next to the Aire. We made sure we were back for 11.30 and the excitement that is the toot of a bread van arriving. Insider knowledge from David and Marilyn again! We had a lovely salad lunch with crusty bread, filled a water bottle, packed the camera and headed off on the bikes. This is why I bother to write a blog. There are some experiences we want to recapture in as much detail as possible for future reminiscing. This past few days has been a perfect example and yesterday was a perfect day. There was a lovely breeze, clear blue skies, country lanes, wide open fields on one side, river and woodland on the other. A fragrance in the air that is natural aromatherapy. We stopped to gather some walnuts fallen on the ground from a tree by the side of one such country lane and as we were about to set off again I became aware of a minty fragrance; my legs had brushed against a bunch of wild mint. Half way on our route we stopped for rest and shade at Thore la Rochette. John spotted the church spire and I followed. Churches, of course, are usually open and cool inside! Good thinking! A very steep path had to be negotiated and John pushed both bikes up it! But, so worth it, this church had a very pretty garden with shady benches to sit on. Perfect! I make no apologies for boring anybody, I loved my day! We were both slightly worried to realise this was a longer distance than we had planned, but I had the option of 3 power levels if necessary and the distance wasn’t a problem for John. Another hour and we were back by the riverbank, along the C3 a quiet single track road alongside more of these private strips of land by the Loir with sheds, caravans and even wrought iron gates on some! The C3 brought us back onto the D24 and overtaking cars were very considerate and gave us a wide berth. We were both elated that I had made it and having seen lovely countryside too. Then we looked at the map, we had cycled a 16km route!
An ice pack applied and medicinal bubbles consumed while we sat at our riverside spot and watched the ducks go by.
Today has been a bike rest day, we blethered to David and Marilyn, they headed off to bike the Lavardin route. We bought croissants and baguette from the bread van. We headed over to the restaurant for lunch as it opens on a Thursday, but quelle domage, they had a huge booking and no space! So, back to the riverside for a salad which included the eggs I bought from the old lady at Brezolles and the walnuts John gathered yesterday together with Comte, jambon and fresh beetroot and a glass of bubbles. A stroll past the troglodyte dwellings this afternoon has been as energetic as it got.
Tomorrow is forecast rain and we have a bag full of laundry. Move on we must!