The Upper Loire

 

Tuesday 1st August, Sully-sur-Loire, 63 km

Unpaved to start, then cobbles. A mixture of roads and paths in the heat.

Our map showed two campsites around Sully. The first didn’t appeal very much so we pushed on into town, where the chateau, with a large green moat, was breathtakingly beautiful. The second campground had no facilities; it was for caravans and campers only, so we opted for a hotel. A very pleasant evening, dining out on the sidewalk, with the chateau for a backdrop. This is the last major chateau and Bev wanted to tour inside so it seemed reason enough to spend the whole day here rather than head off late (even for us) in the day.

Wednesday 2nd August, Sully-sur-Loire, Tourist/rest day

Lunch: beer and a huge merinque!

Dinner: steak tartare!

Thursday 3rd August, Bonny-sur-Loire, Camp-du-Val, 57.7 km

A detour around a large nuclear power plant (the third we’ve seen along the Loire). Undulating farmland, some forest tracks.

The Canal Latéral à la Loire crosses the River Loire on an aqueduct built by Eiffel in the 1890s. We’ll see a few more similar aqueducts in the days to come.

Our route in now along the Canal Latéral à la Loire with occasional views of the Loire itself.

Friday 4th August, La Charite-sur-Loire, 61 km

Hot and dry, open farmland. Stopped for a burger for lunch in a roadside restaurant, with a glass of the local Sancerre white. More shade trees in the afternoon. Stopped in a campsite by the river and walked into town for dinner. A beautiful medieval centre to the town, an excellent and reasonable meal and a splurge on a bottle of local wine: Pouilly Fume. 

Friday 4th August, Le Crot de Savigny, 45.6 km

In the morning, I wandered into town to get some photos. And to hike up the hill to find the Aldi and stock up on cheese.

Our guidebook suggested two routes: the official EV6, up hill and down dale between vineyards; and an alternative, flat, along the road between the Canal Lateral de Loire and the Loire itself. Not paying full attention to the wording in the guide, we followed the towpath of the canal. Quite a serendipitous mistake; the riding was traffic-free, the surface varied but all rideable, and we had the path to ourselves.

It would be a long day, though, to reach the next town with a campsite. But I noticed this sign on a bridge over the canal. Some things are just meant to be.

The rambling farm had many outbuildings and the main house, where our hostess lived, was full of character. Thick walls (cool in summer, warm – with the stove – in winter), a massive beam (12″x12″) supporting smaller joists. About one hundred years old. Our bedroom was spacious. A great find. :)

 

Sunday 6th August, Dion Campground, 81.4 km

Along the canal all day until a few km before Dion, where we took to the road. Varying surfaces but. later in the day, the double track through the grass almost petered out and we were bouncing along over tussocks of grass. Enough so that we were happy to take to the road a kilometre before we had planned to.

A very pleasant day with barely anyone in sight except at the handful of locks that we passed. We stumbled upon this route by accident but it turned out well for us.

Monday 7th August, St Yan, 39.4 km

A quick 20 or so km along the canal in Digoin to find a bike shop. At an E.Clerc sport(ish) store, I found a replacement tyre, 26×1.6 so much narrower than the 2.5 width Extra Terrestrial that had worn out. I proved a battle to get the tyre on, not possible (for me) with the big tube so I got another from the store. That failed almost immediately, the valve I think. A second new tube, much narrower this time, worked much better, hiding itself away inside the tyre when getting the tyre over the rim and reducing the chance of nipping it.

A hot day (Bev reported 36°C but my Weather Underground app said 30) but fortunately found some shade near the store. Still, I was pretty cranky, first with the difficulty getting the tyre on over the rim, then with the tube problems. A 20 minute procedure took a couple of hours. At least, the tyre looks to have a few miles in it!

Rode cross country, narrow lanes and signed private roads (not so on the map) to the ‘hotel’ we had chosen a few kimometres off our route. Le Prerond is B&B in the countryside, not quite what I had in mind, but we don’t need dinner tonight and it’s a good a place to rest up for the forecast day of rain tomorrow.

Skyped with Mum for a while. She’s trying out her new flat, using the wifi down in the common area, and seems to be in good spirits. Hopefully the flat will work out well.

Another aqueduct over the Loire on the way in to Digoin. This might be the last time we see the Loire.

Tuesday 8th, Rest day in St-Yan

Lazy day, catching up on sleep and resting the legs. The lady at the B&B very nicely provided dinner for us. With a bottle of local red. Rough but fine. :)

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