Day Seventy Three: Saumur to Villandry - Grampies Go On Their Knees - CycleBlaze

June 8, 2017

Day Seventy Three: Saumur to Villandry

This morning we told the hotel man the story of how we had suddenly remembered him and the hotel from two years earlier because of two stickers on his front window. The man was mildly amused, though he is quit a serious and deadpan kind of guy. He did go and have a look at the stickers in question.

For us there is a little more significance to the story than there is for the man. It shows that I often seem to notice the same things and ask the same questions when we return to somewhere we have been before. To some extent that is normal - if you look at cycling blogs of different people in the same place they often have much the same comments and photos. But stickers on a door? Maybe I'm in a rut!

One thing I did not seem to remember about the hotel Le Volney is that the rooms are quite small and dingy. Our room must have set a record for the smallest and dimmest light bulbs going, and our beds were more like cots.

Still, our frame of reference is still built around tents. If a room has an actual roof, running water, an electric outlet, and some horizontal surface, then it beats a tent on four counts already. So we are cool, but, just sayin'..

Beds at Le Volney - like being back on the Camino!
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U in

The hotel man looks to see what I am babbling about.
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Hotel Le Volney in Saumur
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When I looked at our blog from 2015 from Saumur I did see some things that were not in yesterday's account. So I began to think maybe I do see different things each time. Nope. It was just that last time we came in from the east and stuck at Le Volney, and this time we came from west. So here I proudly post the "missing" photos of the chateau and of the two half timber houses. Whew!

Maybe the oldest buildings in Saumur
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The Saumur chateau. It looks glitzier on the postcards.
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The route now continued up the Loire, following the narrow strip of land between the river and hills. We noticd several interesting B&Bs along the way, but of course you seldom see these things when you need them. One was particularly interesting, being associated with the Chateau de Hureau. You could stay in a little cottage, probably a former caretaker's house, for 81 euros. Not bad.

Back out along the Loire.
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After Souzay Champigny we came to something called the Parcours Troglodytique, which was a route up just one level and passing through and among houses built into the rock face. The complex is associated with the fifteenth century chateau of Marguerite d'Anjou, wife of Henry VI of England. There was (is) a whole complex of dwellings, that in the time of Marguerite hused about 600 people. The complex allowed people to move from dwelling to dwelling for a distance of several km along the face. Much of this no longer exists, however. Still one can see examples of "defensive houses" in the rock, with for instance slits that permitted arrows to be fired from inside. (The slits were later slightly enlarged at the bottom to accommodate muskets.)

Pushing up into the tuffeau cliffs
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The route winds among the troglo houses
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They once tried silk culture along the Loire. I liked the graphics on this panel.
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One of the graphics, with the chateau looking its best
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One of the buildings in the cliff
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Since we were already up a bit from the river, going along the houses in the rock, the route took the liberty of continuing us "up in the vines". Usually we avoid such routing because it involves hills, but now we were there anyway.

At Parnay there is a small church (of Saint Pierre). It is a very picturesque situation, with the river below and the vines around. These vines are of course on the Cotes de la Loire, and no doubt wine experts are able to distinguish wine from around this church from wine a km further on!

Dodie slugs it out with a giant sprayer
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Actually, a little further on is the small town of Turquant. It's claim to fame is that when the vines were stricken by disease the residents took to growing apples, and then to drying them. They used chimneys cut into the cliff, and famously pounded the apples to flatten them during the drying process. The resultant troglodyte pounded apples are apparently famous. We got to Turquant before 10 and they only opened for visits at 10:30 (theoretically). Anyway they were closed, and we missed it. Has anyone been there or tasted the apples?

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Next along the Loire was Candes St. Martin. This is the tiny town with the church in which St Martin died in 397. He had come down from Tours (where he had been acclaimed bishop in 371) to settle a squabble among some of the clerics. After he died, his body was repatriated to Tours, where it rests at the Basilica St Martin. Still Candes remains a pilgrimage destination and famous place.

St Martin is sometimes referred to as the 13th apostle, and is known as the Apostle of Charity. This designation is linked to a tale of his having shared his cloak with a beggar, while still a roman soldier. Someone told be that he is shown in paintings cutting the cloak in half, since somehow 1/2 was his own stake in it, with the other half being state property. I have not seen this version yet in print, however.

The good press that Martin has ove the cloak thing should be countered by a paragraph in the pamphlet about Martin distributed by the Chinon parish. They say as bishop he "found the strength to travel around the country and announce Christ to the people attached to their old beliefs. He destroyed temples and pagan sanctuaries, he uprooted trees, he baptised, preached, founded parishes and hermitages".

That sounds like religious intolerance to us. Later, during the Revolution, when the St Martin church here was defaced it could be seen as just more of the same!

The St Martin church
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This lady has been in the same window opposit ethe St Martin church for four years (that we know about)
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Missing heads on the acade of the church
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Panels in the church told the life story of St Martin
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Looking out from the church (at that lady's window)
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Candes was the last real excitement of the day. The ride now took us briefly through forest and then out on a dike top highway in the full sun for many kms. It was the typical wilting experience. Finally we arrived at the point where the Cheer river enters the Loire. Our destination, Villandry is just up the Cher a bit, so we turned and followed the Cher.

Nearing Villandry we had a herd of goats cross the road behind us. They were being called by a lady accompanied already by two goats and a donkey. So the goats passed us and went on to the lady, whereupon they all turned and walked away. The donkey was the last to go. He kept eyeing us suspiciously. I think that was his job.

The hotel Cheval Rouge was a wonderful oasis in the heat. Our bikes were swiftly directed to resting places in the garden, and we went to our room with good beds and fast wifi. Soon I will use that wifi to fix up yesterday's blog, where adding captions and putting the photos in place stopped when the hotel's wifi stopped.

Next we will scope out a major route change which could happen at Tours, and even download some tracks. More on that soon, when we have it figured out!

Several fast moving peletons passed us, both from behind or approachimg. They are a bit of a menace, often passing too close. We enjoyed watching them bully cars, though.
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Where we are now. You may be able to spot the Loire up top, but for now we are on the Cher.
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Here come the goats!
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The goat lady.
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The goats were interested in the baguette strapped to Dodie's bike.
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The view from our window at Cheval Rouge.
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Today's ride: 65 km (40 miles)
Total: 3,500 km (2,174 miles)

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