Tractors, fayre grounds and gulls.

Saturday, you need to get out on the road early, for there is no let up in the traffic after 9 O’clock.

The air was cold first thing with a greyness hanging over the morning. Like me a farmer was up with the larks, driving a big blue tractor, a cultivator hanging over the bow and dragging another in its wake. A white, fast moving, cloud of sharp eyed gulls, moved unrehearsed over the newly cultivated ground, screaming their delight to the air.

I stopped off at Pitscottie and sat on the parapet of the bridge to enjoy a long pull at my water bottle and just enjoy the day, as I make ready for the hill ahead. Dropping down into Cupar, the shows (fayre) was in town, now the long climb up to Dairsie. It does not look all that steep but it does take it out of you. Guardbridge, then home. St Andrews now bathed in brilliant sunshine.

Distance 18.6 miles

Time taken 1.40.48

Average speed 11.06

Max speed 23.13

Ascent 872 feet

Calories burned 639

This added to yesterdays total of 18.2 (a carbon copy ride, but in reverse) gives us just enough miles to carry on our French journey.

Craon to Chalonnes-sur-Loire 39 miles

once more it has taken two days of peddling to collect sufficient miles for this one trip, but I could not get to Chalonnes-Sur-Loire fast enough. Although the road like many in the area is as straight as an arrow, it is undulating, which helps a lot.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 1920px-Ch%C3%A2teaux_de_la_Loire_-_Karte.jpg

There is something magical about the Loire Valley for me. A couple of years prior to my two weeks of sojourning in the Loire Valley, I had journeyed the length of the Loire river itself, from its source in the Massif Central to the Atlantic. I still remember spending the night at a small campsite in St-Laurent-Les-Bains, and the next day tackling the 22 km climb up onto the Massif Central and the start of my journey proper.

It was not the climb so much as the long drop down from the road into the valley below that I remember. More so, since all that lay between me and the valley floor, hundreds of feet below was a small wall that was less than half a meter high.

Bursting out at the top of the climb was a joy, for it was remonisant for a scene from the Sound of Music, where Maria leads the children onto the high mountain meadow festooned with wildflowers. That day, on those high pastures I found lazy, inquisitive cows, with big sad-eyed, contented they lay chowing their cad on a green carpet, with an undetermined pattern of yellow and white flowers. I did not have a lot of time to spend on that trip – a day in Orleans and Tours were the highlights. Before reaching home I had made up my mind that I would return and spend a full two weeks exploring the Loire Valley, it was possibly the best holiday ever, certainly the most memorable.

Here at Chalommes-Sur-Loire, the river lies at peace and you are lured by the tranquillity of it all, unwinding is easy and ‘going native’ is just as natural as breathing. You will never tire of something to see. The Chateaux De La Loire are as, numerous as bouquets of flowers at a wedding. And even although the crown of France was bankrupted, and the 100 years war was at its height during the time of these great hunting lodges, it did not stop the extravagant building of châteaus.

Not to be missed, Tours, a city of two halves, the gleaming new modern train station, and the old town with its narrow streets, whose building tower precariously above your head.

Basilica of Saint Martin, Tours - Wikipedia

Here also the Basilica of Saint Martin, of Tours, the resting place of France’s patron saint.

His father, a centurion, signed the lad into the military academy at 14 years of age. He did pass out and he himself became a centurion, an officer in the Roman army. But was woven from a different cloth, he had leaning towards Christianity and the story goes that when he passed through Tours, on seeing a naked beggar by the side of the road, he removed his cloak, cut it in half with his sword, and handed half to the beggar. His life story is a fascinating one and makes for good reading in the camp of an evening. He died outwith Tours, whilst on his missionary journeying.

Now holly men and saints were a big tourist attraction (dead or alive), so the villagers in the place where he died, wanted to keep the body for themselves. A group of his followers from Tours recovered the body and spirited it away during the hours of darkness, escaping by raft along the Loire for burial back in Tours. Many years later, the Basilica we see today, was built to house St Martain’s resumed body. In celebration, pilgrims travel the route taken by his corteque each November, on the anniversary of his death. Even after all these years, St Martain is still pulling in the crowds.          

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