Day 4 : Châteauneuf-sur-Loire to Orléans - Lack of Imagination Loire Valley - Tandem Tour - July 2021 - CycleBlaze

July 17, 2021

Day 4 : Châteauneuf-sur-Loire to Orléans

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Well, the less said about the « Hotel Le Capitanerie » in Châteauneuf the better.  Let’s just mention that check-in moved mysteriously from the promised 5pm (already ridiculous) to 5:30pm with no warning.  On a cold day, waiting around for the place to open did not make us happy campers.  Let’s also say that there’s no way that was a 3 star hotel.  And let’s also say…no, let’s not say that.

Les Courageux bolted bravely from the hotel at around 1015.  We had a very short day today, only 33k to Orléans.   The morning was cold, about like yesterday, but the wind was lighter.  But it was still too cold for one of us.

Our first job was to cross back over the river.  Luckily the bridge was a single lane (no center line) and traffic was light.  We got across, only holding up one patient French driver.

Getting our heart rates up first thing
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A quick right turn, and things were back to normal.  Great bike paths, flowers everywhere, and a slight headwind.  Since it was Saturday morning, we had a bit of company from « les sportifs », riders on race bikes with no bags.  In general, they were friendly, but we got a few of the famous French stares as we cruised north and west.

This is a good time to sing the praises of our Bike Friday tandem.  I’ve made some significant modifications to it with the help of my bike guru friend Dave Walker, and the result is a really smooth-riding, smooth-shifting bike.  It’s a pleasure to ride, especially on these silky-smooth bike paths.  It feels like we could just go forever.  A really fun bike.

The star of the show takes a bow among the flowers
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There’s not much to write about today’s ride that we haven’t already written.  No sites to stop at, and no cafes along the way.

As we got closer to Orléans, we rode through a really nice park furnished with picnic tables, trails, and even a large lake with sailboats for rent.  A really beautiful place.  The people of Orléans are lucky.

Through the park on the outskirts of Orléans
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After exiting the park, we got a glimpse of the cathedral of Orléans.  Nice to know we were getting close.  We had a curb-separated bike path over the bridge into town.

Orléans in view
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And things just got better.  We always are a little stressed when riding into a big town.  The traffic and unfamiliar streets are difficult to navigate.  But Orléans has it worked out.  We had a beautiful off-road bike path along the river, right into the center of town.  Why don’t all cities do this?

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We were too early to check in to our hotel (3pm today), so we conferred and decided to eat lunch.  The cold wind was an issue, but we found a somewhat sheltered place on the main food street (Rue du Bourgogne) and enjoyed a warming lunch.  We then headed up through town towards our hotel, enjoying the views.

The cathedral, from a side street
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This is a really well-kept city.  We were impressed by the « flower columns » along the main streets.  How do they do that?

There were hundreds of these!
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We walked across the Place du Martroi, the center of town, with its Jules Verne-style carousel and cafes.  We made a note to come back once we had our hotel sorted.

Place du Martroi
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Our hotel, the Hotel de L’Abeille, is adorable, and the young ladies working there were adorable, too.  We were too early to check in, but they let us stow the tandem in the basement and change into our street clothes.

We took a long walk to a bike shop to find a screw that had fallen off of Rich’s shoes (an SPD cleat connection screw).  Then came back into town to sit outside the cathedral and have a drink.  Or two.  And the sun came out!  Yeah!

The cathedral in the sun
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After rehydrating, we went across the square to visit the cathedral.  It’s not old like Notre Dame de Paris, but still a beautiful space.   A series of stained glass windows tell the story of Joan of Arc, whose story is intertwined with Orléans.   There are also some impressive modern stained glass windows that we enjoyed.   Definitely worth a visit.

Robin admiring the windows
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Orléans cathedral
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We went back to the hotel and the lovely ladies there had bussed all of our bags up to our adorable 3rd floor room.   We chilled for a while, then returned to the Place du Martroi for dinner.  It was so nice to sit in the warm evening, watching the world go by as we finished our glasses of wine.  Life is good!   

Today's ride: 33 km (20 miles)
Total: 246 km (153 miles)

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