OWWW MY LEGS
Early start today for a longer day in the saddle. After a slight let down at the local boulangerie, we set off from picture-postcard Vitré and back into the countryside. The gathering clouds overhead were at first ominous, but actually turned out to be a blessing as gave us a morning‘s shelter from the sun (in your face, Sunny boy). We passed through the beautiful forest of aptly-named Mondevert (“green world”) and fields of golden wheat as we wound our way through two or three little villages before arriving at Craon. Let me tell you, the boulangerie there more than made up for the earlier disappointment at Vitré. After a weirdly high number of visits in and out of there in a short space of time, we popped our heads in at the local Bar/Tabac where at 10am there was already a decent crowd of locals getting on the beers (legends) and piling on bets on the Sulky, the local horse chariot racing phenomenon.
We rolled onto Segré, passing from the département (county) Brittany and into Mayan along the way. Fare thee well, Bretons.
Segré was a pleasant and functional town but a quick pit stop was plenty. And then the second, slightly longer stage of the day began. What the road lacked in bends (spoiler: it had none) it made up for in undulations, with the spire of each upcoming village church dipping in and out of view as we closed in via the ups and downs. It probably wasn’t that hilly in retrospect, but our cause wasn’t necessarily helped by the fact we are mentally preparing ourselves at each stage by following route descriptions from a book (the otherwise excellent France en Vélo), whose author’s ideas of “flat” and “gentle” are truly innovative. Still, it was a good excuse for JK to bust out the first bit of topless cycling of the trip, in an effort to even out a T-shirt tan of note.
The end of the day brought us to the banks of the Loire. So here’s three facts about the Loire to finish: it’s France’s longest and largest river (1020km long and over one-fifth of the country’s entire landmass drains into it); it was the border between France and England during the (misnamed) Hundred Years War; and it’s a fucking excellent place to sit next to and enjoy a glass of vin blanc at the end of a tiring day.
PS. If you’re ever staying in Chalonnes-sur-Loire, can massively recommend Logis des Mariniers. Beautiful B&B overlooking the river where you get looked after - free beer in the garden on arrival, amazing breakfast and they even did our washing for us. Heroes.