Back in the Saddle

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The weather is absolutely wonderful not only in the Loire but right across France and most of Europe so we’re back on our bikes after a six-month break.  I suggest we find choose a nice flat bike path out in the open as a warm up. It’s 2.30 pm and an unbelievable 19°C which must be practically a record for 8th March.

Ready to go with the bikes on the back of the car
Ready to go with the bikes on the back of the car

So we pump up the tyres (well, Jean-Michel does), check the paniers and handlebar bags (that’s my job) and put the bikes on the back of the car. We drive to our preferred starting point along the Loire between Blois and Saint Dyé on the Route Historique de la Vallée des Rois, just opposite the turn-off to Saint Claude de Diray.

Ch^teau de Menars
Château de Menars

It feels great to be back in the saddle! Château de Menars stands out clearly on the opposite bank and we discover a new sign post opposite Montlivaut showing the flood levels of the Loire. In 1856, it reached 3.4 metres, in 1866, 3.2 metres and in 1846, 2,6 metres.

Flood post opposite Montlivaut
Flood post opposite Montlivaut

We soon arrive in Saint Dyé where a flock of swans is attracting attention on the river bank. Further on, we see lots of different trees in blossom. On the path towards Muides, we see the most delightful tree house.

La potion muidoise which is a reference to the druid's magic potion in Astérix
La potion muidoise which is a reference to the druid’s magic potion in Astérix

I’ve scheduled a stop at La Potion Muidoise so are somewhat disappointed to discover it’s closed in the afternoon at the moment. I can’t imagine why you’d open a bar in the morning only, particularly on the finest Saturday we’ve had in months. But it’s school holidays, I guess.

This type of well is typical of the region
This type of well is typical of the region

We take a new route back to the river and see the most picturesque little well covered in wild flowers. I can’t wait to see it in the summer when the hydragea is in bloom.

Riverside bench on the cycle path between Saint Dyé and Muides
Riverside bench on the cycle path between Saint Dyé and Muides

We eat our biscuits on a bench overlooking the Loire. Next time I’ll have to remember to pack a thermos with tea!

By the time we get back to the car, we have ridden 25 kilometers and I am wishing it hadn‘t been quite so flat!

Monthou-sur-Bièvre cemetary
Monthou-sur-Bièvre cemetary

It’s next day and we’re planning another ride. The temperate is expected to reach 21°C. I’ve learnt my lesson and have suggested a few small hills so we head for Monthou-sur-Bièvre with its unusual cemetary. The cycle route has a lot of little villages along the way which should mean plenty of flowering trees and shrubs. I wince with pain as I ease myself into the saddle.

Saint Pierre d'Ourchamps
Saint Pierre d’Ourchamps

The little church in Ourchamps is open so we go inside and are amused to see a document dated 1882 saying that the chairman of the church council of St Pierre expressly forbids the sexton from letting any one other than the church employees ring the bells. It makes you wonder what had been going on.

Tents made by pine processionary larvae
Tents made by pine processionary larvae

As we go past a small wood of pine trees Jean Michel points out “tents” made by the larvae of the pine processionary moth which is an economic pest. The urticating hairs of the caterpillar larvae cause harmful reactions in humans and other mammals (I looked that up!). I’ve never even heard of them before!


This time I have scheduled a stop in the little town of Fougères-sur-Bièvre with its well-preserved 15th century castle and I’m hoping there’s a café open because I have forgotten to replenish the biscuit supply. You guessed – it’s closed for the afternoon, although it was obviously open at lunchtime, and I don’t have the promised thermos of tea either.

Château de Fougères built in the 15th century.
Château de Fougères built in the 15th century.

After 30 kilometres, we arrive back at our starting point and I’m rather glad that next day is Monday and the only seat I’ll have to sit in is my ultra-comfortable desk chair! I’m still happy to have had such wonderful weather to cycle in. In a couple of days’ time, I should be ready to get back in the saddle.

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13 thoughts on “Back in the Saddle”

  1. Despite your pain and forgetting the thermos, it all sounds and looks delightful. Wish I was here!

  2. Hasn’t the weather been magnificent! It’s just like 2012, so let’s hope this isn’t a flash in the pan like it was that year.

    You must be really careful of the processionary caterpillars — I’m sure JM told you. Antoinette spends half the year covered in welts because the cats pick up the hairs when they are outside and then she picks them up from the cats. Their park style garden has a lot of pine trees. I wrote a post on them on Loire Valley Nature. The caterpillars themselves are rather beautiful.

    1. We didn’t touch them, fortunately. I’m really sorry to hear that about Antoinette. I’ll check out your post. Jean Michel has a really good photo he’s going to publish on Blois Daily Photo.

  3. Thanks for the wonderful virtual tour ! I got out on the bike this weekend too but going the opposite direction (Montlouis). Looks like we have a few more days of nice weather. Ironically, I went ice skating this morning at the temporary rink in Amboise ! Over the past few days, it has turned into a shallow pool by mid-afternoon.

  4. Your bicycling adventures sound wonderful!

    I’m more stoked than ever to bike across Europe (well, Italy, Spain, and France) with my husband. Aim to begin next year with a 2-3 week trip and complete in successive years . . . inch by inch, anything’s a cinch, right?

    Anyway, taking in the Loire Valley is definitely in our plans, so this post is gold!

    1. Ah, there are so many places to see and cycling is a wonderful way to do them. We’ve just had another two days cycling so watch out for another post!

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