Archive for the ‘Loire Valley’ Tag

Reminiscing on a First Tour   Leave a comment

It sure doesn’t feel  like very long ago but I’ve  just been realizing that it was 30 years ago this week (i.e the first week of May in 1982) that I set off on my first major cycle tour – a 4-week ride with 3 cycling buddies, primarily through the Loire Valley and Normandy. We flew in and out of Gatwick Airport south of London, so there was also a bit of time spent in southern England as well as a few days in Paris before heading to the Loire.

We flew out of the Edmonton International Airport on a Wardair charter flight – it was an evening departure, taking off at something like 10 PM. That flight was my very first time flying! What a way to start – on a long haul flight in a 747 (then the absolute creme de la creme of aircraft) Fortunately I enjoyed the flight (loved it actually, especially the acceleration at take-off!).  Wardair was also a real gem of an airline – first class service, including a decent in-flight meal served on real china with silverware. What I loved most about WardAir was how simple it was to transport a bike. I believe there was no extra charge for the bike (it just counted as one of the two pieces of allowable luggage and all of my panniers and other gear was stuffed into a big canvas dufflebag). We didn’t even have to worry about having the bike in a box or a bag! To prep the bikes for the flight, we took off the pedals, turned the handlebars sideways and let the air out of the tires – so simple!

Sunrise on flight to the UK

Another thing I remember so clearly from that flight was the descent into Gatwick. As we broke through the clouds and could see the English countryside I was struck at how green and lush the patchwork countryside was. When we had left Edmonton, the trees had not yet leafed-out and fields were still brown. All of a sudden it felt like cycling season!

Preparing our bikes in Gatwick Airport

We arrived in England mid-morning, went through customs and picked up our bikes and bags. After straightening out our handlebars, putting air in our tires, attaching out pedals and packing all of our gear onto the bikes we were ready to hit the road – a bit groggy and jet-lagged from the overnight flight, but definitely excited by the adventure head of us.

For more posts about this trip, start here.

Posted May 6, 2012 by Randy Talbot in Cycle Touring

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Cycling the Loire Valley – More Chateaus   Leave a comment

[This is part 6 of my story and pictures of a cycling journey years ago in the Loire Valley and Normandy. The story started here]

On our second day in the Loire valley we left out camp at Amboise on the Loire River and cycled south to the Cher, one of the smaller rivers that flows into the Loire. There, on the Cher we found the magnificent Chateau de Chenonceau.

The Approach to Chenonceau

A Garden on the grounds of Chateau de Chenonceau

Chateau de Chenonceau over the River Cher

While the Chateaus were certainly architecturally amazing, historic and the reason we were in France, I still found plenty of things of interest along the way between castles.

Sharing the Road

Cobbled Street in a French Town

On the L’Indre river we visited the Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau [map] , a fairy tale style castle:

Chateau d'Azay-le-Rideau

The next chateau in the Loire valley that we visited was another that was again not on the Loire itself but 10 kilometers away on another of it’s nearby tributaries, the Vienne. This was the site of the massive Chateau de Chinon [map]. It was from this location that Joan of Arc gathered her forces back in 1429 (so much history!)

Dear in the Moat at the Chinon Chateau

This was mid-may that we were cycling through the region, so spring showers were to be expected. We experienced a light rain on occasion and ran into at least one good afternoon thundershower(but these memories pale against the marvelous thing we saw.

Our Bikes Sheltered from Some Rain (while we visited another chateau)

Not all of the chateaus that we visit were restored, museums. some were delightfully in a state of partial ruin which really served to hammer home just how old they were:

Cracks and Crumbling in the wall of an old French Chateau

Old Stone Steps

These few days in the Loire valley were a lot of fun and I have given only a briefest description of our experience but hopefully you get the idea. Next we would soon be making our way north to the Normandy coast – stay tuned for more photos and stories.


Cycling the Loire Valley – Chaumont and Amboise   Leave a comment

[This is part 5 of my story of my first bicycle tour in France. Click here to see the previous post]

Our Camp in Orleans

This May day was the start of the prime reason we had come to cycle in France – to see the famed Chateaus of the Loire Valley. There are many monumental building through this valley and our goal was to visit two or three each day as we cycled 80 to 100 Km.

Bridge Across the Loire

From our campsite in Orleans, we packed up our tents, loaded our panniers and hit the road. There is a main highway that runs along the North side of the Loire River but we chose to cycle the smaller, quieter roads on  the south side for the most part. while most of the sites were on the Loire  itself we did visit one chateau on the Cher, a tributary of the Loire.

The first stop was a couple of hours ride from Orleans at Chaumont-sur-Loire, with it’s cylindrical fairy-tale turrets.


As we were to discover, the attraction of the chateau is not only their magnificent architecture, and inspiring  gardens but most allow visitor to see the interiors with historical artifacts.

Window from the interior of Chaumont

Back on the bikes and another hour or a so down the valley, we turned a corner to see an imposing structure:

First view of Chateau d'Amboise

We toured the inside of this the Chateau d’Amboise, which interestingly enough is the site of the tomb of Leonardo de Vinci.

Inside the Chateau d'Amboise

There was a great view of the town of Amboise and surrounding countryside from the top of this chateau.

View from Chateau d'Amboise

We camped this night right in Amboise  at a campground right on the Loire river. It was the most amazing setting I have ever camped in. Our tents were set up facing the magnificent castle which was lit up at night. Although not a great photo, this one shows what I saw as I laid in my sleeping bag to go to sleep.

Chateau d'Amboise - View from the Tent

The view not withstanding (and the inability to keep my eyes open while sleeping), sleep was needed because we’d had one good day of cycling and there would be more road to ride and more chateau to visit the next morning.