After my Chinese bike ride earlier in the year see On your bike-China a ride through the French countryside and along the banks of the Loire a few weeks ago was another great ride-this time without the town traffic experience at the start.In fact on this ride we only saw a few cars all day.
Friend Patrick and I hired a couple of far from lightweight bikes from a bike shop in the main street in Azay-Le -Rideau .The actual trail we followed was recommended by le Patron in the bar we frequented.The whole area is bike friendly with clearly marked trails and bike tourism is big business .We saw groups of cyclists of all ages-from teenagers in hi-vis vests to a group of Dutch racing bike riding seniors-wearing lycra -not a good look.
The countryside is beautiful and the ride on the levee alongside the Loire was easy cycling.The small village of Le Chappele aux Naux where we stopped for lunch on a terrace right beside the river was charming with a civic bike station-see photo below-where you could wash your bike and pump up the tyres and take a comfort stop in the modern pissoir.
It was warm-well into the 30s- and we covered 36kms and made it back into the bar mid afternoon where I downed a few beers and negated all the calorie burning benefits of the ride.
The number of abandoned houses in rural France never ceases to surprise me.In south western France last year I saw whole villages where most of the houses were boarded up and even in the very popular Loire Valley on the ride we passed abandoned farmhouses and even big houses just mouldering away.There are still plenty of French rural properties waiting to be resurrected by retiring British bankers.
Leica X1 photos.