Friday, February 14, 2014

Castle Country

First things first!  The bike shop in Tours had a whole range of contraptions with two wheels.  After we wiped our drool off of the race bikes and asked about their rentals, they rolled out this lime green dream.  I couldn't stop laughing at the thought of Billy riding with upright handlebars and pedals with no clips...  Haha!  Seeing this clunker, at least, gave me hope that I might in a million years be able to keep up with him.  We laughed all the way home.  It was so good to be back on bikes with Billy.  I've seriously missed riding with him so much.

As soon as we got home we started planning day trips to the nearest castles to our east and west.  We spent the next three weeks exploring castle country on a beautiful bike route that spans from Nevers to Nantes.  The well-marked La Loire à Vêlo signs kept us pedaling in the correct general direction AND on the right route (for the most part - ha!).

Chenonceau is the one in the bottom right.
We narrowed our desired destinations down to lunch in Montlouis (round trip 30km/20mi), crepes and castle tour in Amboise (30km there only), Valentine's day lunch in Villandry (20km/13mi there only), and a half day to check out Chateau Chenonceau (heeding warnings about the hilliness of the route to Chenonceau we opted for the train).  Actually, Montlouis turned out to be the only place close enough to do a there-and-back (the only restraint being how long we could stay in the saddle if you know what I mean...).

Don't those seats look comfortable?!
Thankfully, all of these locations were conveniently served by the SNCF (a local train which is a cross between Amtrak and BART).  I was really amazed to discover that, apart from Villandry, train lines picked up five minutes walking from most of these castles and stopped service smack dab in the middle of beautiful downtown Tours.

Even though we took the train to Chenonceau, we still took our bikes with us that day and it's a good thing we did because our train back was delayed.  So, that evening, instead of freezing our butts off at the (outdoor) station, we made our way east past Chateau Chissay and went all the way to Mont Richard and back (another 20km/13mi).  So, just as a side note, yeah...  No banks in these parts.  Not even an ATM.  Do all those people bank in Tours?  Off shore accounts?  Shoe box under their bed?  We may never know.

Almost as awesome as being back on the bikes and taking trains through the scenic Loire River Valley were the looks we got when we told people that we have been riding our bikes to these places.  Haha!  Priceless.


  1. Amy and Billy,
    This may be one your most favorite rides of all times. When you get back it will sink in...
    Awesome !! I'm so very excited and happy for you two! M

    1. Thanks, Mom. It was so cool discovering these rides with Billy. I'm going to try to get out further on the bike more often! :)