Blois by Bike

23 Sep

From the car window, Loire Valley.

You’ll know it when you reach the Loire Valley châteaux region.

How? Because you’ll be driving along (OK, swerving around roundabouts) when all of a sudden, castles start popping up like mushrooms: big, opulent country homes, with fairytale facades and manicured lawns.

Cheverny, Loire Valley.

It’s a lifestyle, but it’s not hard to channel your inner princess/duchess/countess and picture a lovely afternoon prancing around on the grass, beckoning the help to bring another lemonade.

Just needs a basket & a baguette! (BTW, you could opt to rent a basket.)

Clearly, the way to properly enjoy the castle-dotted countryside is…by bicycle! More precisely, by little-old-French-lady-with-a-basket-on-the-front bicycle (a little foreshadowing there…but for the record, everyone rides this type of bike in France. Just picture apples and a baguette on the front basket & tell me that isn’t your ideal French afternoon in the countryside?).

Loire Valley.

We chose our (slightly ambitious) circuit – along tiny roads, through villages of old stone buildings, across sunny fields & cool, damp forests.

This has been the cherished mode of transportation in this region for a long time; the paths are flat, well-maintained & well-marked. It’s all terrifically scenic, and the first, say, 15-20 kilometers are glorious. We’ve chosen a route to see the impressive Chambord castle and will pass another privately-owned chateau later on.

Chambord, Loire Valley.

Full disclosure: I’ve biked to Chambord before (see ‘France castle country trip,’ 2000), and it always looks very easy on the map, but WOW, those rental bikes are not built for efficiency. So, the seat killed me last time (complete with an emergency stuffed-animal-as-makeshift-cushion purchase), and the “sturdy frame” got us this time. (This, from a 100 mile/week racing bike rider.) (Not me, obviously.)

Needless to say, this did not fit his racing bike sensibilities.

Hmmm. Choices. Leffe blonde 50cl & Leffe Ruby 33cl, Blois.

Let’s just say, we finished our 46 kilometers. We got a good taste of the French castle country. And we’re still talking to each other – so I’ll consider that mission accomplished.

OK, maybe the 50cl Leffe beer helped. We earned it.

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2 Responses to “Blois by Bike”

  1. Jerome September 23, 2010 at 8:29 pm #

    Loving your entries, just read them all. I’m a bit jealous of your travels, you know the French country better than me. See you soon.

    A+,
    Jerome

    • ladybug-go September 24, 2010 at 6:46 am #

      Not true! Thanks & see you guys very soon –

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