Eurovélo 3 – Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois – Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine – Maillé : goats cheese, dolmens & massacres

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It’s a Sunday in the middle of a heat wave and we’ve chosen a cycling itinerary from our new Tours-Basque Coast book (Eurovélo 3) that we don’t know yet. It goes through Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine, famous for its goats cheese, and Maillé, infamous for being the site of the second largest massacre in World War II after Oradour sur Glane. Unfortunately, my trusty iPhone has had a little accident and I’m going to have to rely on Jean Michel’s camera which has a Lumix lens but is not as easy to handle.

Joan of Arc in front of the Auberge Jeanne d'Arc in Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois

Joan of Arc in front of the Auberge Jeanne d’Arc in Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois

We park the car in the shade at Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois, 8 km north of Saint-Maure and set off on our bikes, stopping almost immediately for coffee at an attractive little auberge called Jeanne d’Arc with a terrace looking onto a statue of Joan of Arc who stayed here, wearing men’s clothing, for two nights in March 1429 on her way to Chinon. Her “voices” also revealed the existence of Charles Martel’s rusty sword behind the altar of Saint Catherine’s chapel which she then adopted as her weapon.

Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois church

Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois church

We visit the pure flamboyant gothic church next door which replaced the chapel after it was burnt down in 1440. One of the chapels inside the church is dedicated to Saint Catherine and there is another statue of Joan of Arc.

Inside the church you can see the flamboyant gothic door and on the right the stained glass window depicting Joan of Arc

Inside the church you can see the flamboyant gothic door and on the right the stained glass window depicting Joan of Arc

Devotion to Saint Catherine was so popular in the middle of the 16th century that Louis de Rohan, seigneur de Sainte-Maure, was authorized by the king to build walls and moats around the village (they’ve now disappeared) so that it could be elevated to the rank of a town.

A more recent château on the road out of Sainte-Chaterine-de-Fierbois

A more recent château on the road out of Sainte-Chaterine-de-Fierbois

After a fruitless attempt to visit the local château, we ride out of town towards a park and another more recent château but we have no idea what it is.

The covered market taken from the side opposite the town hall

The covered market taken from the side opposite the town hall

We soon arrive at Sainte Maure which has a large square surrounded by several historical buildings. The most impressive is an enormous covered market, 48 metres long, 25 metres wide and 20 metres high. You wonder just how much goat cheese they can sell! It is closed but when we go around the back, we discover an open door and wander inside among the permanent stands which are closed today.

One of the monumental doors on the market hall

One of the monumental doors on the covered market

The two monumental doors were added during restoration in 1672 by Princess Anne de Rohan. Unfortunately, they were damaged during the Revolution in 1798.

Town Hall in Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine

Town Hall in Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine

The town hall with its classical façade looks very majestic next to the local PMU café where the locals are enjoying a Sunday aperitif. Who knows, it might even be open when we pass through again on our way back.

The Belle Image inn

The Belle Image inn – so annoying that the rubbish is displayed so prominently

We stop in front of the 12th century “Belle Image” inn, right on the Camino which accounts for the scallop shell on the façade alongside the motto “good wine and good lodgings at La Belle Image”. It finally closed in 1987 and now houses the public revenue department.

The entrance with the shell indicating the Camino route

The entrance with the shell indicating the Camino route

We cycle down to the ruins of the château built in 990. The 14th century tower is all that remains of the protective walls. After the French revolution the castle housed the local gendarmerie until 1836 when it became a boys’ school until 1968.

The tower and remains of the château in Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine

The tower and remains of the château in Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine

There is one more place to visit before we go – the Virgins’ Chapel and Fountain – which is out of town a bit. As it’s very hot, not to say extremely hot, we don’t want to run the risk of losing our way so we ask at a newly open Portuguese wine and grocery store as I figure they’ll know about the chapel. “It’s up a very steep hill”, they tell us. It’s certainly not as taxing as our 1.6 km in Germany in July, but it still requires major leg power particularly in such intense heat.

The Virgins Chapel

The Virgins Chapel

I flake out at the top while Jean Michel looks around. There is a bench in the shade overlooking the town so we decide to have lunch there so that I can regain my strength.

The micraculous well at the Virgins Chapel

The micraculous well at the Virgins Chapel

The present chapel, inaugurated in 1892 replaces a chapel built in 1760 on the site of a fountain reputed to heal milk ringworm. The chapel is closed so we don’t get to visit the inside. Apparently it’s hardly ever used

The beautifullly restore wash house and market bus sign

The beautifullly restore wash house and market bus sign

As we cycle down the hill, I am able to observe a beautifully restored wash house and take a closer look at a sign that I noticed on the way up when I obviously was not going to stop. A free 22-seat mini-bus called the “carosse du marché” picks up people every Friday from mid-June to mid-September to take them to the produce market. The market must be really enormous!

The only goats we see - note the manger and the goats just visible in the hangar

The only goats we see – note the manger and the goats just visible in the hangar

The next monument on our list is a dolmen or Pierre fondue (melted stone) and is very hard to locate. We eventually come across a very small sign and follow it along an extremely stony path. On the way we see our first herd of goats. Considering how famous the cheese is here, we are surprised not to see more. Some of them are resting out of the hot sun in a large unattractive wrought-iron shelter with a Christmas manger in front.

The dolmen outside Saint-Maure-de-Touraine

The dolmen outside Saint-Maure-de-Touraine

The dolmen is a bit of a disappointment, but then, dolmens usually are. The 1.7 metre high megalith, made of Turonian limestone and sandstone, is the remnant of a covered walkway: an aisle formed by a double row of upright stones, covered with slabs. It is a Neolithic gravesite with its opening facing the rising sun. It was erected during the “new stone age” (about 5,000 to 6,000 BC) when hunters and gatherers became farmers and breeders. I try to imagine its significance but the broiling sun makes it difficult and I let Jean Michel go and take the photo close up.

The seemingly closed war museum in Maillé

The seemingly closed war museum in Maillé

Another dolmen, a menhir this time, is shown on our cycling map but we vote only to visit it if it’s on our route. It isn’t, so we push on to Maillé. We see the war museum on our right but it looks completely closed. What a disappointment. We approach the gate and discover it is open. A very friendly woman appears, expressing surprise at our arrival. “I didn’t expect anyone to come today”, she says, “because of the heat.” Only mad dogs and Englishmen, I think.

Reconstructed houses in Maillé

Reconstructed houses in Maillé

The Maillé Massacre, as it is called, took place on 25th August 1944, the day that Paris was liberated, as revenge on local Resistance activities. The German forces killed 124 out of the 500 inhabitants of the village which was then burnt to the ground. Only 8 houses out of 60 remained. The village was reconstructed. It was mainly thanks to the financial support of an American Francophile couple, the Hales, that the orphaned children and remaining adults were able to get on with their lives.

A temporary exhibition consists of photos of inhabitants who were about 10 years old when the massacre took place, with recorded quotations of their experience on a video screen. We leave feeling very subdued. In the meantime, the friendly lady has put two of our water bottles in the freezer. The cold water is much appreciated as there is not a single café or shop open.

The Vienne River in Nouatre. Magnificent bignomias on the left

The Vienne River in Nouatre. Magnificent bignonias on the left

We continue to Nouâtre, our destination for today, built on the Vienne River. We eventually locate Château de la Motte, but there isn’t much to see. It has been turned haphazardly, it seems, into individual apartments.

The somewhat disappointing Château de la Motte

The somewhat disappointing Château de la Motte

Back in Maillé, we visit the outside of the little 11th century church with its Romanesque porch and external staircase. Inside there is a memorial to the victims of the massacre but it is only open during heritage weekend in September. I later learn my friend Susan from Days on the Claise has written a post about Maillé.

The 11th century church with its Romanesque porch in Maillé

The 11th century church with its Romanesque porch in Maillé

We arrive back in Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois exhausted but get a kick out of photographing the local recipes illustrated on billboards around the main square. I hear an older woman and her adult son clucking about the recipes but can’t catch their words. I don’t care! I’m going to try that Goat Cheese Tart!

Goat cheese tart recipe

Goat cheese tart recipe

 

Posted in Cycling, Loire Valley, museums | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Friday’s French – Globalisation, mondialisation, global, overall

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There is a perfectly good word for “globalization”in French – mondialisation which comes from monde meaning “world” – but they seem to be set on using globalisation instead.

approche_globale_personnes_ageesIn English, global is mainly used in the sense of worldwide, particularly in economic fields, in which case it is usually rendered by mondial in French:

on a global scale: à l’échelle mondiale 

global capitalism: le capitalisme mondiale

There is one important exception: global warming is réchauffement de la planète.

In French, however, global has many different meanings, all revolving around the idea of total, comprehensive, overall.

Ils pratiquent un prix global: they have an all-inclusive price

Ils proposent une offre globale : they offer a package

Il faut adopter une approche globale à la question: a comprehensive approach to the issue is needed

La stratégie globale concerne toute l’entreprise: The corporate strategy concerns the entire company.

You can of course have a global strategy in English which corresponds to a stratégie mondiale in French.

When my children were small, there was considerable debate in France about using the méthode globale de lecture corresponding to the word recognition method to teach reading, which is perfectly logical in English where many of the basic words follow no set pattern in terms of spelling and pronunciation: were, where, once, their, there, etc. In French, however, although there are exceptions, most words are pronounced according to syllabic rules which makes the word recognition method a very slow and confusing way of learning to read. I understand that it has been dropped in favour of the méthode syllabique.

Enough digression

Globalement means overall/on the whole, and not globally.

Je suis globalement contente du résultat: On the whole, I’m happy with the result

Globalement nous sommes tous d’accord: On the whole we agree

Globalement, nos ventes ont augmenté: Our overall sales have gone up.

Je dirais que globalement c’est la même chose: I would say that, all in all, it’s the same thing

And the much-used “holistic” in English today can also be rendered by globalement:

Il faut traiter le problème globalement – A holistic approach to the problem is needed.

Holistique does exist but I’ve only ever heard it used in a therapeutic context:

Les thérapies holistiques sont souvent fondées sur des connaissances empiriques et des enseignements traditionnels de la naturopathie : Holistic therapies are often based on the naturopath’s empirical knowledge and traditional teachings.

Back to my initial comment on globalisation. The sentence I heard recently on France Info (my favourite radio station because it keeps repeating the same news all day which means I can listen to it while I’m cooking without having to concentrate), was:

La globalisation des constructeurs a poussé les équipementiers à se restructurer : The globalisation of car manufacturers has forced car parts manufacturers to restructure.

I really don’t see why they can’t say “La mondialisation des constructeurs a poussé les équipementiers à se restructurer”. It’s just a simple. But then, I’m not French !

Posted in French language | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Secret Blois #2 – Wars Wounds and Fountains

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At the end of Secret Blois #1, I left you in Place Louis XII, the most animated part of Blois and home to a twice-weekly fresh produce market. You may have noticed a certain uniformity in the buildings around you. During World War II, Blois was occupied by the German army which invaded the city on 18th June 1940. It was liberated by American soldiers during the last two weeks of August 1944. On both occasions, the town was bombed for several days particularly after the Normandy landings, destroying more than 1500 buildings, especially in the area around Place Louis XII, the railway bridge over the Loire and Gabriel Bridge.

The entrance to Rue Saint Lubin with the castle on the right

The entrance to Rue Saint Lubin flanked by two postwar buildings

The château was saved by a pragmatic decision taken by the local authorities. The German bombs started fires in the city and the chateau was in danger so some of the mediaeval houses around the chateau were deliberately blown up by the locals to form a firebreak to protect the château. The Germans were aiming for the bridge in order to stop people fleeing south. In those days there was a steady stream of refugees crossing at Blois and other places.

However, if you continue along the narrow street of Rue Saint Lubin keeping the Loire on your left and the castle on your right, you will find yourself in a much older area dominated by the 13th century Romanesque church of Saint Nicolas with its tall spires. Follow Rue des Trois Marchands noting all the little speciality shops along the way, many of which are on the ground floor of half-timbered houses that fortunately survived the war.

Continue along Rue des Trois Marchands to n°11. Initially called Auberge du Cigne, this inn, which was built in 1573, became Auberge des Trois Marchands in 1669 and gave its name to the street which was full of hostels and inns: l’Ecrevisse (opposite the pharmacy at n° 17), La Fontaine (the site of the Tuile d’Or, today n° 19), La Croix Blanche (n° 21) and many more which have now disappeared.

Fontaine de Saint-Laumer or Fontaine de Foix next to Saint Nicolas Church

Fontaine de Saint-Laumer or Fontaine de Foix next to Saint Nicolas Church with Laumer Abbey through the door on the right

On the right of the church of Saint Nicolas when you are facing the entrance, you can see a fountain built into the wall of the cloisters of the old Saint Laumer Abbey. Foix or Saint-Laumer Fountain was the only one not supplied by the Gouffre, a reservoir gouged out of rock to which a 529-metre long aqueduct brought rainwater and seepage water collected on the limestone plateau. The Gouffre is at the bottom of the staircase called Degrés du Gouffre which we will visit on another occasion. This is the third fountain we have seen so far out of the seven that still remain in a city once renowned for its “glorious fountains” to quote the historian Noël Mars, writing in 1646.

On the next corner on the right is the Musée de la Résistance, another reminder of Blois’ war history. Turn right in front of the Auberge Ligérienne Hotel and onto Place de la Grève to find the best-known and most elegant place to stay in the 17th and 18th centuries: Hôtellerie de la Galère. At that time, it was right on the quay, near the old river port of Grève. at 3 place de la Grève. It was first mentioned in 1611 and finally disappeared in 1825. Its illustrious guests include Nicolas Fouquet (Louis XIV’s finance minister who got too big for his boots and built Vaux-le-Vicomte), Madame de Sévigné, James II of England, Philippe V, the Prince of Wales in 1711, Mehemet Effendi and the Spanish Infanta. Sadly, all that is left today is a window with a balcony and a carriage entrance at 6 rue de la Grève.

The rear façade of Hôtellerie de la Galère on Rue de la Grève

The rear façade of Hôtellerie de la Galère on Rue de la Grève

Back on Place de la Grève, turn left to walk along the river towards Pont Gabriel bridge and past Saint-Laumer Abbey which now houses the region’s administrative offices.

A little further on, on Place Jacques Lob, you’ll see a building with two comic characters on the front – La Maison de la BD. A BD is a bande dessinée ou comic strip, an art form that is extremely popular in France among both children and adults. Blois holds a comic festival every year called BD Boum. This year (2016), it will take place on 17 and 18 November. The characters, Bill & Boule, first appeared in a Belgian comic book called Spirou in 1959.

Boule and Bill on La Maison de la BD

Boule and Bill on La Maison de la BD

If you take a short deviation left into Rue des Jacobins on the left, you will see the front entrance with a drawing by François Bourgeon. Millions of copies of Bourgeon’s albums have been sold. He’s particularly well-known for his heroines. The BD centre runs temporary exhibitions and comic strip classes for teenagers and adults.

Back on Quai de la Saussaye, you will come to Square Valin de la Vaissière on top of an underground parking lot. A black marble monument to Colonel Henri Valin de la Vaissière on the edge of the square closest to Place Louis XII is yet another reminder of World War II. Born in 1901, Vallin initially trained as an air force officer. After his unit was disbanded in 1942, he joined the ORA (Organisation de résistance dans l’armée) where he was known as “Valin”. Unfortunately, he was assassinated by a deranged subaltern in December 1944, after a regiment of Resistance fighters under his orders expelled the Germans from their barracks and liberated Blois on 16th August 1944.

War memorial to Valin de la Vaissière

War memorial to Valin de la Vaissière

Before the Germans left, they decided to blow up Jacques Gabriel Bridge which you can see on your right. Two piers and three arches collapsed but the rest of the 18th century bridge resisted. The only way that the daily traffic of 1000 vehicles and 4000 pedestrians could cross the river was by ferry. As a result, a temporary wooden bridge was built in less than 3 weeks. It was used for a year while a second wooden bridge capable of carrying greater loads was being built next to the stone bridge.

Despite enormous problems– flooding, lack of materials, very cold weather, etc., construction of the second wooden bridge began during the winter of 1944 and was completed on 2nd September 1945 on the 1st anniversary of the total liberation of the city. The new bridge was pronounced safe by the engineers but vehicles were asked to limit their speed to 15 kph and only trucks under 10 tonnes were allowed to cross. After three years of good and faithful service, the wooden bridge was finally replaced by the newly reconstructed stone bridge. If you cross over to other side of the road just to the right of the bridge, you can see the remains of the wooden bridge during low water periods next to the central arch.

You can see the remains of the wooden piers of the temporary bridge near the middle stone arch

You can see the remains of the wooden piers of the temporary bridge near the centre stone arch

Cross back again and turn left just after the Société Générale bank into Rue Emile Laurens. Take the first street on the right, Rue du Commerce, the main shopping street of Blois. On the first corner, you’ll see a couple of half-timbered houses that miraculously survived the Second World War.

At the top of Rue du Commerce, turn right into Rue Denis Papin and you’ll see a sunken fountain on your right on Place du Marché au Beurre, once the butter market. The original street level has now been raised, and the fountain is partially hidden by the terrace of the Saint Jacques Restaurant. It was given to the town by Louis XII under the somewhat uninventive name of “Neighbourhood Well Fountain” and renamed Saint-Jacques Fountain after a collegiate church that has now been destroyed. Since its construction, it has been fed by the Gouffre mentioned above. That is our fourth fountain.

fontaine_saint_jacques

The fifth is located further along Rue Denis Papin just before you get to the corner, on the opposite side of the street almost at the foot of the stairs. It has an interesting history. Called the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall) Fountain, it used to be located on the wall of the old 15th century town hall, on Rue Foulerie. which was destroyed in June 1940. The fountain was found among the ruins and kept in the Lapidary Museum across the river in Vienne until a local historical association, Association des amis du Vieux Blois, financed its re-installation at the foot of Denis Papin stairs in 2005.

Now walk down Rue Denis Papin towards the river, staying on the right-hand side. You’ll come to three enormous metal keys on the corner of Rue des Trois Clefs (Three Keys Street), so named because of the many locksmiths who had their shop fronts on this once narrow street, widened after the 1940 bombings. It was in 1979, when the pedestrian precinct was created, that the municipal workshops produced the monumental metal sculpture consisting of three keys, 3 metres high and each weighing 420 kilos, in less than three months.

The Three Keys sculpture in Rue des Trois Clés

The Three Keys sculpture in Rue des Trois Clés

We’ve come to the end of our second tour of Secret Blois. Next time, we’ll cross Denis Papin and explore another old quarter of Blois with its many mediaeval façades, winding streets and staircases.

If you’re looking for something to eat or drink close by, you can go to Appart’Thé for tea/coffee or lunch at 12-14 rue Basse (Rue Basse forms a triangle with Rue Denis Papin when it turns the corner), dinner or lunch at Au Coin d’Table, 9, rue Henri Drussy or for lunch, dinner or a drink at Vinomania which is a cellar, restaurant and wine bar, Place Ave Maria, 12 rue du Poids du Roi, both of which are on the other side of Rue Denis Papin.

map_secret_blois_2

Posted in Architecture, Blois, History, Sightseeing | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Sound & Light at Blois Castle

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I am not a great fan of sound & light shows but I think I should go to the one at Blois Castle so I can recommend it (or not) to visitors. As residents of Blois, we have free passes to the castle and the weather is very warm so it seems the ideal time.

The beginning of the sound and light show

The beginning of the sound and light show

We  park where we always do along Gambetta Avenue between the train station and the castle. It’s only a five-minute walk.  In June, July and August, the show starts at 10.30 pm and lasts for 45 minutes (10 pm in March, April, May and September). We’re about 15 minutes early so we get our free tickets by showing our passes and ID and go into the main courtyard. We are told to stay in the centre.

One of the castle's illustrious inhabitants

One of the castle’s illustrious inhabitants

We  see that lots of people have come with blankets and cushions. I have passed the age of being comfortable sitting on the ground so we find a place on the steps around the perimeter of the courtyard in front of the Gaston d’Orléans wing but the steps a bit shallow. We think it might be better in front of the Royal Chapel (on the left as you walk in) and find a place there. It’s a little bit better.

The State Room

The State Room

At   10.30 pm, an announcement is made that everyone has to go into the middle of the courtyard as images will be projected on all four façades. A man comes and shoos everyone off the steps. I tell him I can’t stand up for any length of time (my foot starts burning due to an unoperable hallux valgus). He tells me that after the first fifteen minutes, I’ll be able to come back and sit down again on the steps.

Joan of Arc arrives in Blois

Joan of Arc arrives in Blois

That’s OK, I figure, I can walk around for that amount of time. The only problem is that the people sitting down in the centre don’t want other people standing in front of them! In the end, I see there is a group of people standing in front of the Gaston d’Orléans wing so I join them.

Joan of Arc becomes a warlord in Blois before departing for Orleans

Joan of Arc becomes a warlord in Blois before departing for Orleans

The show starts so I move around according to the façade on which the images are being projected. A dramatic backdrop of blue with gold fleur-de-lys appears on the François I façade.  The Louis XII and Gaston d’Orléans wings are then lit up followed by the chapel. The main events  in the history of the castle are then recounted.

Catherine de Médicis

Catherine de Médicis

The sound is very loud and distorted and I have trouble understanding what is being said. An audioguide is available for foreign visitors free of charge but it didn’t occur to me that I might need one.

François I at war

François I at war

After the first twenty minutes (and more specifically after the story of Joan of Arc’s visit to Blois is finished), all the action takes place on either the François I or Gaston d’Orléans wings so we are able to sit down again in front of the chapel. I thank my lucky stars that the man at the beginning was so helpful!

Henri III

Henri III

The rest of the programme is taken up with the story of the Duc de Guise who was assassinated in the King’s Chambers on the orders of Henri III in 1588 after plotting to take over the throne.

The Duc de Guise being assassinated

The Duc de Guise being assassinated

It’s all very dramatic but the only voice I can really understand is that of Fabrice Luchini, one of France’s best-known actors. I’m surprised he’s among the cast but then I remember that Jacques Lang, the French minister of culture from 1981 to 1991 and incidentally the founder of the “Fête de la Musique“, the very popular music festival held in France on the summer solstice each year, was also the mayor of Blois from 1989 to 2000 so I imagine that had something to do with it.

gaston_dorleans

Technically, the sound and light show is a bit of a disappointment though some of the effects are interesting. I particularly like Joan of Arc procession which moves right across the François I wing. Unless the English text is easier to understand, I’m not sure I’d be willing to pay 8.50 euro per person (or 15 euro in a combined castle + light & sound ticket – the castle by itself is 10 euro) particularly if you don’t find it very comfortable to stand in the same place or sit on paving stones (even with a cushion) for 45 minutes. I don’t think we’ll be tempted to go again although we are glad we’ve seen it.

Posted in Loire Valley châteaux | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Friday’s French – Ecole Normale, normal, standard, norme, norm

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The first time I heard the expression école normale was when I took up a post as an assistant English teacher in Nantes many moons ago. I soon discovered that it was a teacher training college. I then heard about the école normale supérieure which is one of the most prestigious and selective university and research institutions, in both the arts and sciences.

photo_213_clocheville_primary_school

The école normale supérieure is run and financed by the State with the aim of training researchers, university lecturers, teachers of grande école preparatory classes and secondary school teachers.

So I was somewhat astonished when reading Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure to learn that Sue Brideshead had enrolled in a Normal School to become a teacher. It was the first time I had thought about the word “normal” used in this context.

Ecole normale was the term given to the institution set up in French in 1794 to provide teacher training to students selected by means of competitive examinations. Normal in this context refers to the fact that it was to serve as a model for other schools of the same type i.e. to establish teaching standards or norms. The English institution was modelled on the French école normale. The name “Normal School” was gradually replaced by “teachers college” or “teacher training college,” so called because almost all collegiate level education programs are sub-departments of larger colleges and universities.

In France, there are now 4 écoles normales supérieures (ENS) and admission is highly selective: 218 places à Lyon, 205 à Cachan, 191 à Paris Ulm et 50 à Rennes en 2014.

The ordinary école normale no longer exists. Both primary and secondary school teachers are now trained at an E.S.P.E. (Ecole supérieure du professorat et de l’éducation) which replaced a previous institution, the I.U.F.M. (Institut universitaire de formation des maîtres), in 2013. And, incidentally, a primary school teacher is now called a maître des écoles (literally school master) and not an instituteur or institutrice which is amusing when you consider that in English, the old school master has been replaced by teacher.

The word norm or norme in French comes from the Latin norma, meaning a set square in the concrete sense and a rule or standard in the figurative sense.

Norme is the basic word for standard in French:

normes de fabrication – manufacturing standards

normes de sécurité – safety standards

normes françaises (NF) – French standards

Hors norme(s) literally means something that isn’t standard, what we would call unconventional or unusual in English. C’est une voiture hors norme(s) – it’s no ordinary car.

The use of “norm” in English does not usually include the idea of an official standard but rather something that is usual or typical. Its use is more restrictive and much less common than the French norme.

Strikes were the norm – Les grèves étaient la norme.

The norms of good behaviour in the civil service – Les normes de bonne conduite dans le service public

Many teachers themselves believe that 70 hours a week is the norm. – Beaucoup d’enseignants pensent que 70 heures par semaine est la norme.

The French normal can often be rendered by the French “normal”, but not always.

De dimension normale – normal-sized, standard-sized

C’est tout à fait normal – It’s quite normal/usual.

Il n’est pas normal – he’s not normal/there is something wrong with him.

On the other hand, in the case of “ce n’est pas normal“, we would be more likely to say “there must be something wrong”.

Ce n’est pas normal qu’ils aient droit aux soins gratuits – It’s not right that they get free treatment/They shouldn’t be getting free treatment.

Revenir à la normale – to get back to normal

Ses notes sont au-dessus de la normale – His marks are above average.

Similarly, in the other direction, normal in English is not always normal in French.

She bought it for half the normal price – Elle l’a acheté à moitié prix.

Classes will be as normal – Les cours auront lieu comme d’habitude.

Do you have any other examples?

Posted in French customs, French language | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Cycling in the Loire – Luynes to Langeais: Castles & Troglodytes

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It’s one of those perfect summer days in the Loire Valley and we’ve chosen to cycle from Luynes to Langeais via a loop we’ve found in our La Touraine à vélo book. Luynes is about 50 minutes from Blois by car. You can see the castle as you approach the village.

Luynes Castle

Luynes Castle in the distance as you approach the village

We  park in the public parking lot at the entrance to the town just opposite the itinerant circus. I heard on the radio the other day that there are now very few municipalities that have adequate grounds to house a circus. As a result they have downscaled and are forced to stay in the same spot for too long for business to be brisk.

An itinerant circus in Luynes

The itinerant circus in Luynes

Le  Saint Venant on the main road is the perfect spot for a coffee before we start the day. It’s very busy, as it also sells cigarettes and lottery tickets. We notice there are several small restaurants open for lunch but we’ve brought a picnic today.

15th century half-timbered house with sculptures

15th century half-timbered house with sculptures around the doors and windows

Luynes is a very attractive little town. In particular there is a beautifully preserved 15th century half-timber house the front of which used to have two entrances. The present door was the private entrance while the other door opened onto the shop. There are four sculptures: Saint James, Saint Geneviève, the local patron saint, a Pietà and Saint Christopher.

The covererd market in Luynes

The covererd market in Luynes

There is also a covered market with a very old troglodyte dwelling right next to it.

The very old troglodyte dwelling in Luynes just opposite the covered market

The very old troglodyte dwelling in Luynes just opposite the covered market

We  ride out of town northwards to find a second century aqueduct. The signs are not that easy to find and are also quite low, obviously aimed at hikers and cyclists.

The approach to the aqueduct from the road

The approach to the aqueduct from the road

The pillars suddenly loom up in the middle of nowhere. I trample through the sunflower field opposite to get a good view of the 300-metre Gallo-Roman aqueduct.

The aqueduct from the sunflower field opposite

The aqueduct from the sunflower field opposite

There is a bench just opposite so we park our bikes and have lunch there with a perfect view of the nine arches, six of which are the original construction.

Luynes Castle, now closed to visitors, with troglodyte cellars below

Luynes Castle, now closed to visitors, with troglodyte cellars below

On our way back into Luynes, we can see the four towers of the castle but can’t get any closer. It’s been closed since June 2016 because it doesn’t respect today’s safety and disability standards. The owner says the outlay is two great for him to make the investment. Only time will tell whether State aid is forthcoming.

Troglodyte house with blue doors and shutters

Troglodyte house with blue doors and shutters

We continue on our way towards Langeais past lots of interesting troglodyte houses and take a detour to Vieux Bourg, a delightful little village with several old half-timbered and stone houses, outside bread ovens and the little church of Saint Etienne which is unfortunately closed for repairs.

A half-timbered house with an outside bread oven in the foreground in Vieux Bourg

A half-timbered house with an outside bread oven in the foreground in Vieux Bourg

As  we approach Saint Etienne, we see a man and his wife coming out of a little troglodyte house and we say “hello, looks like a great house”. “Would you like to come in and visit? You look as though you are interested.” Jean-Michel starts politely refusing but I immediately say “Yes, please! We’d love too.”

A troglodyte house that was originally a wine cellar

A troglodyte house that was originally a wine cellar

They explain that the house was originally a wine-cellar which means it’s quite deep and not easy to ventilate. The main problem is in summer when it remains very cool and has a lot of condensation which is not great for anything electronic. They have ceiling fans to direct the heat towards the lower part of the rooms when heating in the winter. They are trying to find a way to solve the problem.

You can see the end of the steel tie on the right

You can see the end of the steel tie on the right

I would love to take photos but feel it wouldn’t be polite. The only one I take is of the ceiling in the main room which shows where steel ties have been used to make sure the ceiling doesn’t cave in!

More troglodyte houses along the way

More troglodyte houses along the way

They are both retired and happy with their choice but admit there is a lot of work to be done and a lot of problems to overcome. Troglodyte houses that started off as houses are not as deep and don’t have the same problems. I have to confess that I don’t particularly like the idea of living under the earth!

The "modern" church of Saint Etienne built in 1860

The “modern” church of Saint Etienne built in 1860

We  thank them for their visit and continue onto the town of Saint Etienne which has a very attractive, although quite modern church built in 1860.

Cinq-Mars funerary tower built in the 3rd century A.D.

Cinq-Mars funerary tower built in the 3rd century A.D.

We  go past more troglodyte houses until the Cinq-Mars funerary tower or pile looms into view. We’ve seen it often in the past but never visited it. We lug our bikes up an excessively steep hill so that we can see it up close.

A close-up of Cinq-Mars tower with its decorative brick panels

A close-up of Cinq-Mars tower with its decorative brick and stone panels

Built between 150 and 200 A.D. it is a type of funerary tower well-known in Roman times. It is the best preserved and highest funerary stack still extant (29.50 metres) while its brick veneer is rare in Gaul. At the top, twelve decorative brick and white stone panels replace the traditional niche seen on other stacks.

The houses with their decorative friezes in Cinq-Mars

The houses with their decorative friezes in Cinq-Mars

The town of Cinq-Mars is only a few kilometers further. We’re hoping for a coffee but there is nothing open. It must have been quite a thriving town once from the look of the stone friezes on the houses opposite the church.

Our first view of Cinq-Mars castle

Our first view of Cinq-Mars castle – this part is a B&B

We’ve decided to visit the Cinq-Mars castle even though there isn’t much left of the original feudal castle. I don’t quite manage to get to the top of the hill on my bike. It’s one of those day when I think that an electrically-assisted bike might be a good idea.

The very deep dry moat

The very deep dry moat

The owner, a retired architect, turns out to be a mine of information and very willing to talk. The price is a reasonable five euro each.

The stone bridge from in the moat

The stone bridge taken from the bottom of the moat

We  visit the dry moat which is extremely deep, then walk across the magnificent stone bridge with its three arches that replaced the 15th century drawbridge.

The two 13th century towers

The two 12th to 15th century towers

The two 12th to 15th century towers each have three vaulted rooms one on top of the other, but only one tower is open to visitors.

A vaulted room inside the tower on the right in the photo above

A vaulted room inside the tower on the right in the photo above

The name itself is derived from the name of the first known owner, Geoffroy de Saint Médard. It became Saint-Mars after André de Saint-Médard died in the Holy Land in 1210 then for some unknown reason turned into Cinq-Mars in the 16th century.

What remains of the top floor

What remains of the top floor

The castle’s most famous character is Henri Ruzze d’Effiat, Marquis of Cinq-Mars, favourite of Louis XIII, who was beheaded for treason at the age of 22. According to local legend, the castle itself and even the trees were decapitated. His tragic end inspired Alfred de Vigny’s novel, “Cinq Mars” which I’ve never read. Maybe I should.

The area known as the Juiverie at Cinq-Mars castle, overlooking the church

The area known as the Juiverie at Cinq-Mars castle, overlooking the church

It’s nearly 5 pm and we are not even halfway along our itinerary. Jean Michel suggests we go to Langeais and follow an alternate much shorter route back to Luynes.

Langeais Castle from the wrong side of the railway track

Langeais Castle from the wrong side of the railway track

We find ourselves on a main road but can see the bike route over to the right which means scrambling up and down an embankment. It’s a very rough path but it’s better than having traffic whizzing past at 90 kph! We finally see Langeais on the other side of the railway track. Somehow we’ve missed our exit and the path gives out. We squeeze past a post and return to the main road but fortunately we only have to take it a short distance.

One of our favourite teashops - La Maison de Rabelais just opposite Langeais Castle

One of our favourite teashops – La Maison de Rabelais just opposite Langeais Castle

Five minutes later we’re sitting in front of one of our favourite teashops – La Maison de Rabelais, just opposite the castle (which we’ve visited several times before), which is a combined patissier, chocolatier and glacier. After restoring ourselves with an excellent ice-cream, we return via another route which is also a main road. I think I preferred the bumpy path.

Painted pillars in Saint-Etienne

Painted pillars in Saint-Etienne

At  Saint-Etienne I ask for a break and we visit the church. Although it is recent – 1860 – I find the inside very harmonious and attractive with its painted pillars and mosaic floors.

The back of the entrance of Saint-Etienne with its mosaic floor

The back of the entrance of Saint-Etienne with its mosaic floor

We  arrive back at the car around 7.30 pm and it’s still full daylight. We didn’t get to Château de Champchevrier but we can go there another time. It’s one of the most interesting and enjoyable rides in the Loire we’ve had in a long time!

The bike map showing the original itinerary. We only went from Luynes to the aqueduct then onto Langeais.

The bike map showing the original itinerary. We only went from Luynes to the aqueduct then onto Langeais.

AllAboutFranceBadge_bisI’m entering this post in Lou Messugo’s All About France monthly blog link-up. For other posts about France, click here.

Posted in Architecture, Cycling, Loire Valley, Loire Valley châteaux, Restaurants | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Comments

Cycling along the Loir – Vendôme to Lavardin: troglydytes and murals

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Before I begin, just a little note to say that I really am talking about the Loir and not its cousin, the Loire River. We’ve been to Lavardin before – on a cold winter’s day in December last year during the Christmas markets – and promised we’d come back and cycle around the area in the summer.

The imposing entrance to Louis Gatien school in Villiers-sur-Loir

The imposing entrance to Louis Gatien school in Villiers-sur-Loir

We’ve found an itinerary on the web that we’ve printed out and are starting at Villiers which is the closest point to Blois (50 mins away by car). We park in front of a school called Louis Gatien which must surely have been something else in its heyday. Nothing else could explain the entrance!

The water tower designed by Mr Fortier

The water tower designed by Mr Fortier in 1868

It has a large round building at one end that I later discover is a water tower with an artesian bore built by a Mr Fortier in 1868 for his personal use. It also supplied water to a wash-house; any surplus water was taken via a ditch to the Loir. Maybe the school was his house.

The town hall in Villiers-sur-Loir with its 2-metre diameter monumental clock

The town hall in Villiers-sur-Loir with its 2-metre diameter monumental clock

The centre of little town of Villiers, which has a population of just over 1,000, seems to be thriving. Around the central square is a church, a town hall with a 2-metre diameter monumental clock, a baker, a butcher, a Proxi supermarket, a bar, a restaurant and a hair-dressing salon. It’s Sunday morning and bustling with people.

The bike and camino signs at Villiers-sur-Loir

The bike and camino signs at Villiers-sur-Loir

We see the little green and white bike route sign indicating Loire à Vélo and start following it. We are also on the Camino path. We go past an amazing number of troglodyte dwellings, some of which are quite sophisticated. One even has crenellations and bull’s eyes!

A troglodyte castle

A troglodyte castle

The first village is Thoré la Rochette built over the river. It has a hotel/bar/restaurant that is actually open (but it’s too soon for a capuccino stop).

Hôtel du Pont bar and restaurant in Thoré

Hôtel du Pont bar and restaurant in Thoré la Rochette

We  keep following the little bike signs until we come to another very busy place: a train station that doubles as a wine-tasting venue. The red and white wine produced in the area is vendomois, made with chenin and pinot d’aunis grapes, a cousin of chenin blanc. The room is full of people so we don’t taste any wine.

The Loir Valley Tourist Train statoin at Thoré la Rochette

The Loir Valley Tourist Train station at Thoré la Rochette

The station has been rehabilitated for the Loir Valley tourist train, a rural railcar from the 1950s. The 2 ¾ hour trip stops at the troglodyte village of Tröo and the “tunnel of history” in Montoire where Pétain and Hitler met up during the Second World War. I try out the “dry toilets” and wonder why there aren’t more along the bike paths in France.

A less sophisticated troglodyte house

A less sophisticated troglodyte house

We  continue towards Rimay past more troglodyte houses. What a pity we can’t have our picnic at this one!

The castle of Lavardin in the distance

The castle of Lavardin in the distance

At  one point we can see the ruined castle of Lavardin in the distance. With some difficulty regarding signage (our itinerary no longer coincides with the Loire à Vélo bike route), we arrive in Montoire. We should have gone to the left of the roundabout with the waterwheel and not to the right.

The waterwheel intersection where we should have gone left

The waterwheel intersection where we should have gone left

I don’t know the reason behind the flags on the town hall in Montoire but I find them very attractive.

The town hall in Montoire with its colourful flags

The town hall in Montoire with its colourful flags

We  finally reach Lavardin where we’re hoping to find some shady picnic tables. We find the tables – 8 of them, but only two are in the shade and both are occupied. Everyone else is picnicking on rugs on the ground.

Picnic tables in Lavardin

Picnic tables in Lavardin

As  we continue on to Lavardin, we see the perfect place to picnic – shady tables on the banks of the Loir. Sigh.

Alongside the river in Lavardin

Alongside the river in Lavardin

Lavardin itself is much prettier without the Christmas market. We have a café gourmand in an open-air restaurant with a view of the castle. There is a stand with tourist leaflets on it and I pick up one mentioning the murals and frescos in the church of Saint Genest which we were not able to visit last time.

A curious sculpture of a snake on one of the façade stones of the church

A curious sculpture of a snake on one of the façade stones of the church

We  walk around it as directed to find the sculpted stones that were included in the façade when it was built.

The castle seen from the side of the church

The castle seen from the side of the church

It  proves to have a perfect view of the castle as well.

Paintings on the ceiling of the apse depicting Christ in Majesty

Paintings on the ceiling of the apse depicting Christ in Majesty

Inside we discover a magnificent series of wall paintings, two frescos and painted capitals that are well worth a visit.

One of the painted pillars

One of the painted pillars

Afterwards, we walk up the hill towards the castle so I can take some more photos. We can now see the church of Saint Genest in full.

The Romanesque churcvh of Saint Genest probably built at the end of the 11th century

The Romanesque churcvh of Saint Genest probably built at the end of the 11th century

The castle is certainly photogenic. Founded by the Counts of Vendôme in the 9th century, it was rebuilt in the 14th and 15th century by John 1st of Bourbon-Vendôme. After being occupied by members of the Catholic league, it was captured and dismantled on the orders of Henri IV in 1590. All that is left of the feuldal castle is a 26-metre high rectangular keep with flat buttresses topped with crenallations. The only remaining part of the two walls built in the 14th and 15th centuries is the entrance flanked by two circular towers and a drawbridge over a moat.

Lavardin Castle with its keep and moat

Lavardin Castle with its keep and moat

We  head out of town and past a magnificent Pierre Ronsard rose bush and a church for sale, then have to backtrack. We’re in the wrong direction again.

Magnificent Pierre Ronsard roses in Lavardin

Magnificent Pierre Ronsard roses in Lavardin

We  arrive at the waterwheel roundabout just in time to see the tourist train go by.

The Loir Valley tourist train

The Loir Valley tourist train

Our itinerary takes along the Loir and past more troglodyte houses.

Another variation of troglodyte houses - these could be at the seaside!

Another variation of troglodyte houses – these could almost be at the seaside!

We  come to the little town of Les Roches d’Evêque whose church has an unusual buttress and see another shady picnic table that we now no longer need.

The church with its unusual buttresses

The church with its unusual buttresses

After more troglodyte houses, one of which is three stories high, we find ourselves on a busy road with cars speeding past at 90 kph. I see a sign off to the right saying Château Mézière so suggest we follow it.

A three-storey troglodyte house!

A three-storey troglodyte house!

It’s worth the detour! There is a beautiful Renaissance porch, a moat, a stately main building, a chapel, a boat landing and an orangery, all very romantic and used today as a wedding venue.

Château de Mézière with its Renaissance porch

Château de Mézière with its Renaissance porch

Unfortunately the upkeep must be enormous and much of the main building is very dilapidated.

The moat and boat landing at Château de Mézière

The moat and boat landing at Château de Mézière

There is a sign under the porch saying that visitors are welcome to walk around the outside without charge.

Château de Mézière from inside the courtyard. You can see the Orangery on the left, with the church in the middle and porch on the right.

Château de Mézière from inside the courtyard. You can see the Orangery on the left, with the church in the middle and porch on the right.

By  the time we arrive back at Villiers, we are ready for an ice-cream. I know there is no hope of finding anything that might resemble a German Eiscafé but I’m hoping they might have a Miko.

The church of Saint Hilaire in Villiers

The church of Saint Hilaire in Villiers

The main square in Villiers is TOTALLY deserted. Nothing is open. So we visit the inside of the church of Saint Hilaire which has 16th century wall paintings along one side known as the “three living and the three dead”: three young rakes are called into a cemetery by three dead who remind them of the brevity of life and the importance of saving their souls.

The mural in Saint Hilaire in Villiers

The mural in Saint Hilaire in Villiers depicting the Three Living and Three Dead

The stalls in the chancel have some interesting sculptures as well.

One of the scuptures on the stalls in Saint Hilaire

One of the scuptures on the stalls in Saint Hilaire

Jean Michel takes a photo of a curious motif on a wall which turns out to be a clock jack made by Alain Henry, a copper manufacturer in Villiers, with the help of a fellow craftsman from Bourges. It recalls the legend of the Serpent’s Hole. Unfortunately, it is no longer in operation.

The clock jack in Villiers sur Loir

The clock jack in Villiers sur Loir

According the legend, in the time of the Merovingian king, Childebert I, who lived in the area, a dragon was terrorizing the population. Its den was a cave honed out of rock in Saint-André. The king ordered one of his prisoners, Brayanus, to kill the monster, in exchange for his freedom. Brayanus, mounting a chariot with long sharp steel blades attached to the wheels, charged at the monster while it was slaking its thirst in the river and cut it into three pieces.

The cathedral seen from Saint Martin's Bar in Vendôme

The cathedral seen from Saint Martin’s Bar on Place Saint Martin in Vendôme

We  ride back to the car having clocked up 38 km and 2 hours 40 minutes and Jean Michel suggests we go to Vendôme for an ice-cream as it’s only 10 minutes by car. We find a vendor on Place Saint Martin that only has about six uninteresting flavours so we go looking for somewhere else.

The inner courtyard of the Town Hall, built in 1623 as a college by a religious congregation

The inner courtyard of the Town Hall, built in 1623 as a college by a religious congregation

Although we enjoy walking through the streets of Vendôme, which we have visited several times in the past, we do not find any other ice-cream vendors so go back to Place Saint Martin.

The sun setting over the buttresses of the Cathedral

The sun setting over the buttresses of the Cathedral

The result if very disappointing. Even Carte d’Or ice-cream is better! But we eat them in the cathedral cloisters and enjoy the view of the sun setting over the buttresses.

Porte Saint Georges in Vendôme

Porte Saint Georges in Vendôme

I later discover, to my great dismay, that we missed two major monuments along the bike path – Saint Rimay tunnel where Pétain and Hitler meet up during the Second World War and St Gilles Chapel in Montoire which was the priory of the poet Ronsard from 1566 until his death in 1585. It is said to have murals of exceptional symbolism painted in the 11th to 13th century. We’ll have to go back! But next time, we shall start in Vendôme and follow the little green and white bikes the whole time. That way, we won’t keep getting lost. Or maybe we should just take the tourist train.

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Troyes – A Taste of Late Mediaeval France

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We are on our way back to Blois from our cycling holiday in Germany and are looking for a stopover in France. There is nothing interesting midway but Troyes is about 3/5 of the way which is fine. We book a hotel that is a bit higher than German prices but seems to be well located.

The rood-screen in the church of Saint Madeleine as you enter the church

The rood-screen in the church of Saint Madeleine as you enter the church

We have been to Troyes already several times and I particularly want to go back to see the rood screen in one of the churches, after seeing one recently in Tübingen in Germany. Much of the city’s architecture also corresponds to more or less the same period of history that dominates the towns in Germany that we have just visited.

The parking lot in front of Conforama with our hotel on the right (white building)

The parking lot in front of Conforama with our hotel on the right (white building)

I’m a little nonplussed when I see the hotel, which is a Kyriad, a chain we have never used before. It’s three stars so I figured it would be like a Mercure. It looks very modern and ugly. Still, we only want a bed. It’s next to Conforama, a furniture chain. There is a bike path just in front of the hotel so we can’t even pull up there. Jean Michel waits in the Conforama parking lot while I go in. The girl at reception is friendly enough but does not seem to have learned to rules of polite conversation. “Do you want a bill or what?” she asks the person before me in French.

Our bedroom at the Kyriad

Our bedroom at the Kyriad

There is an extra charge for underground parking which I didn’t see on booking.com. The receptionist tells me we can park for free at Conforama which has cameras operating all night so I choose that. When we get up to the room, I decide I am striking Kyriad off my list forever. It is just too ugly and shoddy.

Some beautifully renovated half-timber houses in Troyes

Some beautifully renovated half-timber houses in Troyes

After resting from the 5-hour drive, we walk into the old town, which really is only 10 minutes away. The first thing we see is a set of beautifully renovated half-timbered houses that we don’t remember seeing before. Troyes, with its rich history, has a large number of 16th and 17th century Renaissance-style half-timbered houses that have gradually been restored since the 1990s, especially in rue Passerat.

Troyes Cathedral

Troyes Cathedral

Next, the cathedral, which I certainly don’t remember.

The main square at 5 pm on a Saturday in summer

The main square at 5 pm on a Saturday in summer

I do remember the main square, Place Maréchal Foch, but it was not this animated on our previous visits. We don’t think we’ve ever been here during the summer. Everybody looks are though they are enjoying themselves.

Saint Madeleine's from the outside

Saint Madeleine’s from the outside

We head down the main street which is full of restaurants until we find Ruelle aux Chats on the right, which leads to Saint Madeleine’s church which has the rood-screen. The nave of this gothic church, which claims to be the oldest in Troyes, was built in the 13th century, while the chancel and apse were built in the 16th century and the tower in the 17th century. It is one of the rare churches to have preserved its Renaissance stone rood-screen finely sculpted by Jehan Gailde.

The rood-screen from the back

The rood-screen from the chancel

It is as magnificent as I remember. There is only one person in the church so we are able to take plenty of photos.

The painted wood calvary in Saint Madeleine church probably dates from the mid 16th century

The painted wood calvary in Saint Madeleine church probably dates from the mid 16th century

I particularly like the gold-painted calvary on one side of the rood-screen.

Stained glass window in the church of Saint Madeleine

Early 16th century stained glass window in the church of Saint Madeleine

The ambulatory has a magnificent set of beautifully-coloured stained glass windows from the same period (around 1500) that show considerable technical skill.

The view from the terrace of the restaurant

The view of Saint John’s church from the terrace of the restaurant taken earlier

After visiting the church we join the throng on the main square for an aperitif. We then have dinner in a street parallel to the main restaurant street. What I didn’t see is that our restaurant has a terrace on the other side which means that there are a lot of customers and obviously not enough kitchen staff! Our meal takes a very long time to come. But it doesn’t matter – we’re not in a hurry.

Saint Rémi, rebuilt in the 14th century is thought to be one of the oldest churches in Troyes, despite its more modern look. The fresco was painted in 1772.

Saint Rémi, rebuilt in the 14th century is thought to be one of the oldest churches in Troyes, despite its more modern look. The fresco was painted in 1772.

Next morning, after a good night’s sleep (at least the beds are comfortable), we leave our ugly hotel (the man on reception has more personal skills than the girl yesterday) and walk into the centre for breakfast as neither of us wants to have it at the hotel.

The main square on a Sunday morning

The main square on a Sunday morning with not a soul in sight

Visiting Troyes on a Sunday morning is a different experience. There is practically no one around and I am able to take more photographs. It’s even quite difficult to find somewhere for breakfast.

Half-timbered houses on the other side of the square from Saint John's

Half-timbered houses on the other side of the square from Saint John’s

We go past the church of Saint Jean in front of which there is plaque dedicated to Marguerite Boureoys, the founder of public schooling in Montreal and “apostle of French culture in Canada” born on 17 April 1620 in one of the nearby houses and baptized the same day in the church. She died in Quebec in 1700, was beatified in 1950 and canonized in 1982 as the first female saint of Canada. If you would like to know more about her very interesting life, click here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marguerite_Bourgeoys

Troyes City Hall built during the second half of the 17th century

Troyes City Hall built during the second half of the 17th century

We finally have breakfast looking out onto the main square, with the Town Hall on the left and some of Troyes’ colourful old half-timbered houses on the left.

Our breakfast view of typical painted half-timbered houses in Troyes

Our breakfast view of typical painted half-timbered houses in Troyes

Our return to the car takes us past the Haute-Seine canal next to the 27-km long 3-meter wide asphalt bike path joining up nine of the surrounding villages. It’s part of a route that will eventually take cyclists to Paris. We regret that we didn’t try it out the previous day.

A delightfully pink house!

A delightfully pink house!

We discover the very attractive fountain in front of the Préfecture (Troyes is the “capital” of the Aube département, one of France’s 96 administrative divisions).

The fountain and préfecture

The fountain and préfecture

Oh, and I nearly forgot to say that the old town of Troyes, which is part of the Champagne region, is in the shape of a champagne cork!

The Voie Verte bike route

The Voie Verte bike route

Troyes, once a thriving drapery centre, is also known for its outlet stores – McArthur Glen, Marques Avenue and Marques City http://www.troyesmagusine.com/ – which we visited many times in the past until they were developed in the Paris region. However, now that we no longer live in Paris and Jean Michel is retired, our vestimentary requirements have changed and we do our clothes shopping during the sales in nearby Tours.

AllAboutFranceBadge_bisThis post is my August contribution to Lou Messugo’s All About France link-up. For other posts about France, click here.

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Cycling along the Neckar in Germany #3 – Rottweil to Oberndorf

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It’s the last day of our cycling holiday in Germany. We’ve checked a few on-line sources and studied the cycling map and are driving to Altoberndorf a half an hour away so that we can cycle along the Neckar to Rottweil and Oberndorf. After an excellent breakfast at the Martinhof, Hotel including Spiegel ei, we are off.

The rathaus in Alto

The rathaus in Altoberndorf

There are roadworks on the motorway (again!) so we take an earlier exit than planned along very small roads. Since Germany developed a free motorway system very early on, there are few major roads otherwise. Some of the time, we are driving along the recommended bike route.

Altoberndorf and the Neckar

Altoberndorf and the Neckar

At Altoberndorf we park near the new rathaus. We are soon in pretty countryside, in a very narrow valley. We come to the first covered bridge of the day. On the other side there are two wooden sculptures – and a very devoted photographer. His wife is waiting patiently further on. I wonder how often she has to do so.

A very devvoted photographer at the first covered bridge

A very devoted photographer at the first covered bridge

The route then runs along the railway line. So far, it’s quite flat but we know we have a steep climb before we get to Rottweil.

The pretty little village of Tauhausen from the bike path

The pretty little village of Talhausen from the bike path

At Talhausen, it’s cappuccino time so we go into the village. Nothing. I suggest we try further up the hill because I can see a sign that looks promising. At the top, there is a bar with a view. The only problem is that it’s closed on Friday’s until 4.30 pm.

The second covered bridge of the day, taken from the side

The second covered bridge of the day, taken from the side

We go back down the hill to join the bike path again and soon come to our second covered bridge. We have seen these in other parts of Germany but are not sure of their purpose.

We follow the Neckar for some time

Following the Neckar

We follow the Neckar for a while until we pass under the motorway bridge. Not soon after that, we come to our long climb – 1.7 kilometers. I can see Jean Michel far ahead of me on the next bend. The road seems never-ending but once I find my pace I work my way steadily up. There is a wonderful view over to my left but I do not stop for photos or I’ll never make it to the top.

The motorway bridge in the distance as we climb the hill

The motorway bridge in the distance as we climb the hill

I think the end is in sight, but can’t see Jean Michel, so I assume the climb isn’t finished. When I am almost at the top, I see a group of four German cyclists resting in front of me. One is even lying down on the grass. I put on my best smile and say “Hallo” very energetically. I am a little disappointing that no one says “Bravo”. I later learn that only one of them cycled up the hill and she had an electric bike.

Me as I get to the top of the hill

Me as I get to the top of the hill

Just round the corner I see Jean Michel waiting for me. He takes a photo and congratulates me. This is most definitely the longest climb I’ve ever done. He says he expected me to walk at least part of the way. I’m very proud of myself.

The first painted house we see in Rottweil

The first painted house we see in Rottweil

We cycle the last few kilometers into Rottweil and each time we freewheel I think of how hard it’s going to be after lunch – even with the 1.7 km descent to look forward to.

The fountain in the main square in Rottweil

The fountain in the main square in Rottweil

Rottweil is a delight to the eye with painted façades and decorated oriel windows everywhere. I am only sorry that the sky has been gradually filling with clouds.

The other side of the square in Rottweil

The other side of the square in Rottweil

We call in at the tourist office and I ask whether there are restaurants other than the Greek, Chinese and Italian ones we can see on the main square. She says to go into the side streets.

More oriel windows in the main street

More oriel windows in the main street

Jean Michel finds a terrace next to the church but is soon told that the kitchen is closed – it’s 1.15 pm.

Our lunch terrace

Our shady lunch terrace

I suggest we go down to the bottom of the square and turn right as there is a park. Just before the bridge, we see a terrace but aren’t sure how to access it. I walk through a porch and out into a courtyard with a little tree-covered biergarten at the end. It’s an Italian restaurant as it turns out – but who cares? The setting is perfect. So is the food and the Italian wine.

Outside the restaurant - Hochebrucke

Outside the restaurant – Hochbrücke – it looks German but is actually an Italian pizzeria

We see there is nothing in  particular to visit in the town – we are not really interested in the Rottweiler dog museum – so go back to the main square to take some more photos.

The second fountain in the main street

The second fountain in the main street

Jean Michel checks the map so we don’t have too many ups and downs before we get to our 1.7 km descent. We go past a tower-like construction we noticed before called Test turm. We later check it out on the Internet. The 246 metre high Tower of Light is a lift test tower whose construction began on 2nd October 2014.

The "Tower of Light" test tower just outside Rottweil

The “Tower of Light” test tower just outside Rottweil

We arrive at the 1.7 km descent at 3.30 pm and this time, I can stop for photos! You can just see the motorway in the distance.

The view from the hill on the way down

The view from the hill on the way down

At the bottom we stop to fill our water bottles at a fountain provided by the local waterworks for cyclists and hikers. The water is nice and cold. We manage to keep it fairly cool with our Australian stubby coolers.

The waterworks where we fill up our water bottles

The waterworks where we fill up our water bottles

We ride past Altoberndorf and on to Oberdorf where we see our fourth covered bridge. There are riotous kids on rubber rafts floating along the river below.

Kids on rafts from the fourth covered bridge just outside Oberndorf

Kids on rafts under the fourth covered bridge just outside Oberndorf

It looks as though the town is up on a hill. Oh dear. Our cycle path takes us onto a ramp that ends in a spiral. I’m walking this!

You can see the spiral bike ramp on the right

You can see the spiral bike ramp on the right

However, before we reach the spiral, there is a sign on the right directing us to the rathaus, Information Office and a church. It’s nearly 5 pm and no sign of life. I stay downstairs with the bikes while Jean Michel goes into the rathaus. I start looking at a guide book in French on the Black Forest that we bought in Rottweil. A man comes up and asks in English if I need help. I explain I’m waiting for my husband who is in the rathaus.

Outside the Rathaus in Oberndorf

Outside the Rathaus in Oberndorf

“Have you visited the church?” “No, not yet.” “It’s nearly 5 o’clock, it’s going to close soon. Come with me”. I follow him, leaving the bikes behind unattached and hoping Jean Michel will not worry when he doesn’t find me. “Where are you from?” he asks. “Well, I’m Australian, my husband is French and we live in France”, I explain. He then says a few words in French because he had noticed the book I was reading.

The church near the rathaus in Oberndorf

The church near the rathaus in Oberndorf

We can go into the church but only the narthex is open. The wrought iron gates leading into the nave are closed. “This is our town’s most famous place”, he says. “It’s a Christmas scene on the ceiling and a crucifixion at the end.” Jean Michel arrives at this point and I explain in French what’s going on. The man offers to find a key to get into the nave but we say we can see well enough from the narthex.

Inside the church in Oberndorf

Inside the church in Oberndorf

He then explains that the town is famous for its church and the manufacture of Mauser weapons. No wonder it was bombed during the war!

The upper part of Oberndorf

The old town of Oberndorf

At my insistence we go up to the old part of the town although Jean Michel is not convinced there is anything up there. However, there are several pretty houses and, more importantly, an eis café. We choose our flavours (we know all the vocab now) and sit down on a nearby bench in a sort of kiosk to eat them. Two other people are sitting there as well and start asking us questions about our holiday, where we live, etc. This is probably the first time we’ve had a real conversation in Germany.

The fountain in the old town of Oberndorf

The fountain in the old town of Oberndorf

The sky is getting darker and darker and it’s also getting very windy. “Do you have rain clothes?” asks the lady. “Yes, we have our capes”, I reply. Thank goodness. We are just finishing our ice-creams when the first drops start to fall.

The owner of the eis cafe quic;klky putting down the parasols

The owner of the eis cafe quickly putting down the parasols while Jean Michel puts his paper in the bin

We hastily put our capes on (Jean Michel does not refuse this time) and head for the ramp. I walk my bike down as I’m afraid it might be slippery. By the time we leave the town, it’s absolutely pelting down and doesn’t look as though it will let up soon. Suddenly, we realise that we’ve gone too far and don’t know where we are.

The rain pelting down while I am in the bus shelter

The rain pelting down while I am in the bus shelter

I see a bus shelter and we wait there for a bit. Jean Michel goes off to reconnoiter and eventually locates the underpass into Atloberndorf. that we missed It’s still raining heavily and the gutters are still flooded when we approach the car. I see a place where we can park the car while we put the bikes on without getting even wetter.

We are soaked from the thighs down and our sandals are swimming with water. Fortunately we have a suitcase of clean clothes in the car plus a second pair of sandals so are able to change before going home. It’s still raining when we leave. I make a mistake when entering the address in the Tom-Tom and we end up in Freundstadt. It takes another ¾ hour to get home.

map

Our cycling holiday in Germany is over and the weather seems to agree that it’s time to go back to Blois where the temperatures have improved considerably.

We have now cycled along the Danube, the Rhine, the Moselle, the Elb, the Romantic Road (the Tauber), the polders in Friesland, Lake Constance and the Neckar in Germany on four different occasions. The Danube and Lake Constance remain our favourites.

OTHER POSTS ABOUT CYCLING IN GERMANY

Cycling in Germany – Tips & Tricks
 
Cycling in Germany #1 – Kobern-Kondorf on the Moselle
Cycling in Germany #2 – Rhine from Saint Goar to Lorch
Cycling in Germany #3 – Cochem to Zell on the Moselle
Cycling in Germany #4 – Koblenz where the Moselle meets the Rhine
Cycling in Germany #5 – Bad Schaugen to Pirna along the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #6 – Bastei Rocks, Honigen and over the border to Czech Republic 
Cycling in Germany #7 – Dresden: accommodation & car trouble and Baroque Treasure  
Cycling in Germany #8 – Dresden Neustadt: Kunsthof Passage, Pfund’s Molkerei, a broom shop & trompe l’oeil
Cycling in Germany #9 – Country roads around Niderlommatzsch on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #10 – Meissen on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #11 – Martin Luther Country: Torgau on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #12 – Martin Luther Country: Wittenberg on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #13 – Wörlitz Gardens and the beginning of neo-classicism in Germany
Cycling in Germany #14 – Shades of Gaudi on the Elbe: Hundertwasser
Cycling in Germany #15 –  Turgermünde, the prettiest village on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #16 – Celle & Bremen
Cycling in Germany #17 – Windmills & Dykes
Cycling in Germany #18 – Painted façades from Hann. Münden to Höxter
Cycling in Germany #19 – Bernkastel on the Moselle: a hidden treasure
Cycling in Germany #20 – Trier & the Binoculars Scare
 
Cycling along the Danube – A Renaissance festival in Neuburg, Bavaria
Cycling along the Danube – Watch out for trains!
Cycling along the Danube – Regensburg & Altmuhle
Cycling along the Danube –  The Weltenburg Narrows
Cycling along the Danube – from its source to Ehingen
Cycling along the Danube – Ehingen to Ulm
Cycling along the Danube – Singmarigen to Beuron
Cycling along the Danube – Binzwangen to Mengen including  Zwiefalten
 
Eurovelo 6 – Cycling around Lake Constance
Eurovelo 6 – Moos to Stein am Rhein and Steckborn on Lake Constance
 
Heading home to France after a month’s cycling holiday
 
Cycling along the Neckar in Germany #1 – Ludwigsburg
Cycling alnog the Neckar in Germany #2 – Horb – Rottenburg – Türbingen – Bebenhausen 
Cycling along the Neckar in Germany #3 – Rottweil to Oberndorf
 
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #1 – Peiting to Wies
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #2 – Lechbruck to Fussen via Neuschwanstein Castle
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #3 – Peiting to Diessen
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #4 – Augsburg 
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #5 – Nordlingen, Wallerstein, Dinkelsbühl and Feuchtwangen
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #6 – Rothenburg am der Tauber and Tauberbishofsheim
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #7 – Würzburg
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #8 – Tauberbishofsheim to Creglingen
 
Posted in Cycling, Germany | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Cycling along the Neckar in Germany #2 – Horb – Rottenburg – Türbingen – Bebenhausen

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We seem to have scored with our hotel at last. It is well-located, right on the bike path, the room is spacious with a sofa, two chairs and a desk, the bed is comfortable (and there is even a double bed unlike most accommodation in Germany where two single beds are usually pushed together), it has black-out curtains, the floor doesn’t creak, the shower doesn’t have water spiking out every which way, it has real towels, the breakfast is excellent and the staff is friendly and accommodating. It’s called Martinshof in Rottenburg am Neckar and I can recommend it! We are staying four nights.

The Martinshof Hotel in Rottenburg am Neckar

The Martinshof Hotel in Rottenburg am Neckar

The little town of Rottenburg am Neckar has a marktplatz with several historical buildings and a path along the Neckar where we go to have our picnic dinner each evening as we don’t have a terrace. The light is perfect the first time we go there and I manage to take several stunning photos. It also has one of the best ice-cream parlours we’ve been to in Germany. The dark chocolate is to die for.

Along the Neckar in Rottenburg

Along the Neckar in Rottenburg

The weather prediction for the three days we are staying here is warm and sunny, even very hot the first day. We make the effort to get up early (8 am) and are on our way by 9.30.

The marktplatz in Rottenburg

The marktplatz in Rottenburg

The Neckartal-Radweg path takes us through pretty countryside and is mostly flat. We look for a café in the first village, Obernau, to no avail, so push on to Bieringen which has a seemingly non-descript bakery/open air café that is obviously known for miles around as people keep pulling up in their cars and dashing in to pick up boxes and packets.

Cycling country outside Rottenburg

Cycling country outside Rottenburg

We enjoy our cappuccino but aren’t hungry enough for cake. By now it must be about 28°C.

A golf course literally in the middle of nowhare

A golf course literally in the middle of nowhere

To our immense surprise, we go past a golf course. You’d wonder where the people come from. It’s getting hotter and hotter and we are positively sweltering by the time we reach Eutingen Im Gäu. From then on, we spend most of our time going up and down hills. When we see the motorway bridge above us, we’re not surprised.

The motorway bridge above the bike path

The motorway bridge above the bike path

Fortunately, we then go through a wooded area or we may not have survived! We keep stopping to drink water which we keep chilled with our Aussie stubbie coolers.

The tower on the hill near Horb

The tower on the hill near Horb

Our destination, Horb, is not exactly what we expected. First, it is on top of a VERY HIGH HILL which we walk up, of course. At the top, we see the painted rathaus and church but no restaurants so we go back down the hill.

The painted rathaus in Horb am Neckar

The painted rathaus in Horb am Neckar

I suggest we ride along the river in the opposite direction to see what we can find. Jean Michel is very dubious but I insist. Suddenly we come across an outdoor Italian restaurant under shady trees. It has a very basic menu but we don’t care.

The shady Italian eatery

The shady Italian eatery

There is a high school just behind and the students are all cooling themselves off in the river a hundred metres on. We order wiener schnitzel to be on the safe side with French fries and they are excellent. Jean Michel tells me everyone is calling them “pommice”. We later learn it is the German pronunciation of pommes short for pommes frites, which means French fries in French. I feel sorry for the Italian mamma who’s cooking today. We are reasonably cool in the shade.

Chilling out on the roadside bench

Chilling out on the roadside bench

I am dreading the ride back because of all those hills but in fact, they are not so steep in this direction. After an hour, though, I am happy to stretch out on a conveniently located wooden bench to recuperate.

A vineyard on the way home

A vineyard on the way home

We call in again at the bakery in Bieringen. By now it is 32°C in the shade and we need to cool off again. Business continues to be brisk but we still don’t feel like eating cream cakes and my dictionary does not tell me what holzofen brot is.

The bakery in

The bakery in Bieringen

All we want when we get back after cycling 55 km in 4 hours is a cold shower. Our room does not have air-conditioning but we cool off along the river with an ice-cream. On the way home, we hear an impromptu concert in one of the squares.

It’s next morning and an intermittent fast day. Fortunately, it isn’t as hot and the temperature is only expected to get to 28°C. We shall have to drink a lot of water though.

The beautifully painted rathaus in Tübingen

The beautifully painted rathaus in Tübingen – unfortunately it’s delivery time

We pack our picnic lunch and set out at 9.30 am. Initially, the route is not very exciting, but at least it’s flat. Tübingen, our main destination, is only 12 km away. Since it was not bombed during World War II, most of the houses are very old, many are half-timbered and some are painted.

Marktplatz in Tübingen

Marktplatz in Tübingen

The rathaus with its oriel window is particularly attractive.

Having coffee next to the canal

Having coffee next to the canal

We have an espresso next to a little canal to the accompaniment of live music from Budapest and watch two enormous trucks try to get past each other.

Houses along the Neckar in Tübingen

Houses along the Neckar in Tübingen

After visiting the main sights in the upper part of the town, we cycle down to the tourist office just next to the Neckar Bridge. Tübingen has a population of 66,000 people, one third of whom are university students. They seem to be everywhere!

 

Punts on the Neckar

Punts on the Neckar

We see gondola-like boats on the river which apparently are the local tourist attraction.

A biergarten along the Neckar. What a pity it's an intermittent fast day!

A biergarten along the Neckar. What a pity it’s an intermittent fast day!

As we haven’t determined where we are going next, I ask the man in the tourist office to suggest something to visit within a radius of 10 km. He gives me a brochure on Bebenhausen monastery and castle which is 6 km out of town.

The bike café on the way to Bebenhausen

The bike café on the way to Bebenhausen

On the way, we come across a little café on the bike path and have an espresso. Dark rain clouds are threatening and I haven’t packed our rain capes. In the little wood just after the café, there are definite signs that a shower that has already taken place. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

One of the houses in the village of Bebenhausen

One of the houses in the village of Bebenhausen

When we reach Bebenhausen, we are enchanted. I don’t understand why the brochure only shows the rather drab inside of the castle and church when the village itself is so pretty.

The clock on one side of the abbey

The clock on one side of the abbey

Although it is not teeming with tourists we are not on our own. There are two groups of schoolchildren and two groups of adults which makes it difficult to take photographs!

Another view of Bebenhausen

Another view of Bebenhausen

We stop off at Tübigen on the way back to visit the cathedral because it has a flamboyant gothic jubé. There are some interesting wooden statues at the end of some of the pews.

The jube in Tübingen cathedral

The jube in Tübingen cathedral

We’re back at our hotel by 4 pm, having cycled 42 km in 3 hours 20 minutes in near-perfect weather.

Traditional music in Rottenburg am Neckar

Traditional music in Rottenburg am Neckar

We have dinner along the river as usual, but no ice-cream because it’s an intermittent fast day. As we reach the marktplatz we can hear music. We’ve arrived at the tail end of some sort of organised event but it’s good to know that our little town is so active.

map

OTHER POSTS ABOUT CYCLING IN GERMANY

Cycling in Germany – Tips & Tricks
 
Cycling in Germany #1 – Kobern-Kondorf on the Moselle
Cycling in Germany #2 – Rhine from Saint Goar to Lorch
Cycling in Germany #3 – Cochem to Zell on the Moselle
Cycling in Germany #4 – Koblenz where the Moselle meets the Rhine
Cycling in Germany #5 – Bad Schaugen to Pirna along the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #6 – Bastei Rocks, Honigen and over the border to Czech Republic 
Cycling in Germany #7 – Dresden: accommodation & car trouble and Baroque Treasure  
Cycling in Germany #8 – Dresden Neustadt: Kunsthof Passage, Pfund’s Molkerei, a broom shop & trompe l’oeil
Cycling in Germany #9 – Country roads around Niderlommatzsch on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #10 – Meissen on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #11 – Martin Luther Country: Torgau on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #12 – Martin Luther Country: Wittenberg on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #13 – Wörlitz Gardens and the beginning of neo-classicism in Germany
Cycling in Germany #14 – Shades of Gaudi on the Elbe: Hundertwasser
Cycling in Germany #15 –  Turgermünde, the prettiest village on the Elbe
Cycling in Germany #16 – Celle & Bremen
Cycling in Germany #17 – Windmills & Dykes
Cycling in Germany #18 – Painted façades from Hann. Münden to Höxter
Cycling in Germany #19 – Bernkastel on the Moselle: a hidden treasure
Cycling in Germany #20 – Trier & the Binoculars Scare
 
Cycling along the Danube – A Renaissance festival in Neuburg, Bavaria
Cycling along the Danube – Watch out for trains!
Cycling along the Danube – Regensburg & Altmuhle
Cycling along the Danube –  The Weltenburg Narrows
Cycling along the Danube – from its source to Ehingen
Cycling along the Danube – Ehingen to Ulm
Cycling along the Danube – Singmarigen to Beuron
Cycling along the Danube – Binzwangen to Mengen including  Zwiefalten
 
Eurovelo 6 – Cycling around Lake Constance
Eurovelo 6 – Moos to Stein am Rhein and Steckborn on Lake Constance
 
Heading home to France after a month’s cycling holiday
 
Cycling along the Neckar in Germany #1 – Ludwigsburg
Cycling alnog the Neckar in Germany #2 – Horb – Rottenburg – Türbingen – Bebenhausen 
Cycling along the Neckar in Germany #3 – Rottweil to Oberndorf
 
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #1 – Peiting to Wies
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #2 – Lechbruck to Fussen via Neuschwanstein Castle
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #3 – Peiting to Diessen
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #4 – Augsburg 
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #5 – Nordlingen, Wallerstein, Dinkelsbühl and Feuchtwangen
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #6 – Rothenburg am der Tauber and Tauberbishofsheim
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #7 – Würzburg
Cycling along the Romantic Road in Bavaria #8 – Tauberbishofsheim to Creglingen
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Posted in Accommodation, Cycling, Dieting, Germany | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments