Cycling along the Loire

July 20, 2019 0 By Viktor

Although our plan is to get to the Spanish border without too many detours, we definitely wanted to pedal our way by the Loire river and see some of its famous chateaux…

Our last stop on Day 3 was Beaugency before we arrived in Muides, where we camped.

We bought some snacks for the day and said goodbye to the lovely couple who shared their home with us the previous night and then continued our journey south towards Orléans. There are few cycling paths in this area but the secondary roads were pleasantly quiet.

This remote place reminded us of the Hitchcock movie North by Northwest, save the plane
We had our first French coffee in the pretty town of Étampes. It was only the first of the many places that enchanted us with their old stone houses and eerie churches.

For the next 25 km we followed the valley of the Juine river so it wasnt a demanding ride physically although it was getting really hot. The residents of the villages and towns in the valley mostly work in agriculture as all the sunflower and corn fields showed us. And when you get really hot, the best thing to do is stand in the artificial rain of the irrigation system. A trick we have used many times since!

A medieval bridge spans over the ice-cold water of the Juine. We had a longer stop here to have lunch and cool down a bit. In the old days the women of the village (Méreville) washed the clothes in a small building by the river.

We arrived in Chésy by the Loire around 5 and settled down in the laid-back campsite. It was too late to buy food when we walked back to the town so we ended up in a local snack bar and filled ourselves with calories to get prepared for the next day,

The main street of Chésy in the late afternoon

A wonderful network of bicycle paths follows the River Loire, connecting all the important towns and sights. Everything is clearly signposted, there are free public toilets and several campsites along the way. The mostly asphalt and partly gravel road took us to the historic city of Orléans in half an hour. We spent an hour or two discovering the narrow streets lined with medieval houses and the churches.

A less narrow street near the Cathedral in the old town.
And the Cathedral, Sainte-Croix d’Orléans, built in the 12th-13th centuries.

The Loire is also home to thousands of birds and many parts of the river are under strict protection. But in certain places you can take a break from pedalling in the sun and cool yourself in the fast-flowing water. This is what we did in the middle of the day although Anita needed a bit of encouraging as there are warning signs in some places about the danger of currents and quicksand. Luckily, we didn’t experience either.

Our last stop for the day was Beaugency (see the first image above). The name itself is beautiful, I think, and the town caused no disappointment. If you can ignore the tourists and the cars and only concentrate on the buildings, you can almost hear the clip-clop of horseshoes and the rattle of the knights’ armour.

We stayed in the municipal campsite of Muides-sur-Loire, just across the bridge looking on the river. It is a very airy and adequately serviced site with lots of trees and affordable prices. Highly recommended.

To be continued!

When we saw these vast chimneys by the river, we were thinking what a time-travelling medieval knight would take it for. Perhaps he’d conclude this is what our modern day fortresses look like.

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