The Kiwi Contingent
The Team photo, ready to roll on the hotel lawn at Orleans
We all met after breakfast at the Le Parc Hotel for a debrief on the cycle tour. The cycling part of the tour (other than the admin, which is Hooked on Cycling) is run by GiroLibero. There would be about 30 people starting today of which 10 are Kiwis (our group). Those of us who have hired bikes have orange 28 gear bikes with a pannier each and a place to read the map on a water proof board between the handle bars. We are suppied with clear step by step directions, white on black arrows on poles or other suitable places, an overall map of the route and a book on chateaus of the Loire Valley.
Todays ride was only 30kms so we could take our time and get used to the bikes and the route. We left at around 9.45 heading out along the Loire, across the Loire Bridge then back along the other side on quiet country roads most of which are specifically for biking. We biked through small villages and grain fields on flat roads so it was easy going. Where places were worth visiting we headed away from the river but eventually back along it
for a time before going further inland to vist Clery-St-Andre where the Notre Dame Basilica stands. It dates to 1515 and has three additional chapels built since then. The earliest part has ornamentation that has severely eroded. We couldn't go in since it was Sunday and a service was being held. However, I followed a lady in through a side door and was able to view the huge high vaulted ceiling. James of Compostela passed through here on his pilgrimages, Louis XI and his wife are buried here, as is Charles VIII. The building is now undergoing a lot of renovation.
It was a very hot, sunny day and after finding some bread filled with prosciutto and cheese we went to a bar for coffee or cold drinks since there was little else open. We then biked on to Meung-Sur-Loire where we lunched on the grass in a park in some shade. It was very warm. After wandering through some old streets we headed to the remains of a tower and to the castle where we opted to have a tour. We have visited a few castles over the years but this one was particularly good as it hadn't
been renovated to any great extent. We were also able to enjoy visiting rooms that the public are generally not always shown. There were the usual aristocratic quarters with their special rooms, but there was also the kitchen, cellar, laundry, bathing quarters, herbalist's room, guard room, bishop's room, the dungeon with the torture room, long spooky underground tunnels, and way up the top, the roof cavity with huge beams where laundry was dried and no doubt kids played. An interesting way to spend a lot of time.
Luckily for us they were having some sort of medieval feast and activities so we were able to see people in old costumes cooking, eating at a large, long table, cooking in a huge fire place, doing archery, sword fighting and selling wares. Some of us had a go at archery which was fun but a lot harder than it looks.
We completed the day's route at Beaugency feeling very hot and pleased to get off the bikes and to somewhere cool. We all met again at 6pm and headed to one of the squares for drinks and dinner which was a leisurely affair taking 3.5 hours as the evening cooled down and dimmed at 10pm. We had a stroll through the streets on the way back to the Hotel de la Sologne and the town looks lovely. It is not spoilt by new buildings and has a medieval feel to it. We must go back in the morning before we leave to see it in daylight.
The city of Beaugency dates back to the 11th century has been the site of numerous military conflicts. It was occupied on four separate occasions by the English. On June 16–17, 1429, it was the site of the famous Battle of Beaugency when it was freed by Joan of Arc. It was burned by the Protestants in 1567 and suffered extensive damage to the walls, the castle, and the church.
In 1940 and again in 1944, the city was bombed by Nazi Germany. On 16 September 1944, a German Major and over 19,000 soldiers surrendered at the Loire bridge of Beaugency to french résistance.
Tot: 3.491s; Tpl: 0.05s; cc: 15; qc: 64; dbt: 0.0491s; 3; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb