After spending a good few days in Blois looking around the Chateaux de Blois, de Chambord (twice) and de Cheverny and much more beside, it was time to pack up our panniers and head back along the Loire à Velo and onto Amboise. But with the car in the car park at Blois, it made sense to leave the clothes we knew we wouldn't need, as sadly the weather had changed.
So leaving flip flops, vest tops, some clean clothes for the last day or so of our trip along with the wine we bought at Chambord, we left Blois in our waterproofs. And typically this was our longest cycle. I wasn't looking forward to the next 43km.
After a good breakfast - well a girl needs fuel - we cycled over the river and turned right cycling along the banks of the Loire until we reached this.
Yes, that was the path. It looks quite wet, doesn't it? While we were contemplating our next move, I was distracted momentarily by the poppies. Realising that wasn't going to help us progress we turned back to the path, and the map to see what our next move should be. In the distance we could see people approaching from the other direction, getting so far, turning back and heading along what looked to be the road on our map we'd identified. We had a plan, so we were off again.
After about 20km we were approaching Chaumont-sur-Loire, which our guide book told us was "well worth the effort required to climb the outcrop on which it is perched" and originally it had been on my list of chateaus to visit. But as it coincided with a long cycle we'd decided against it, and with the weather on the day we were cycling past I was pleased. And it was up the top of a hill, so while it looked pretty with blue skies in the book, our reality was much greyer.
I was keen though to try and get some decent photos, so I parked my bike under a tree - I didn't want a wet saddle - and went off in search of some photos. It wasn't long though before I was back and keen to get going again, it was just too misty and bleurgh to capture the postcard shots.
The path was directing us back down towards the river. I didn't like the look of the path down, and hesitated. That's before we realised that too was flooded. So we stayed on the quiet road and cycled parallel to the path instead.
It was slow going that day. And actually the rain wasn't that bad, it was warm - or warm enough at this stage of the ride and there was plenty still to see. Another stop had me wondering about this forest. It had clearly been planted, as each tree was equal distance apart. I was fascinated because whichever angle I stood, there were lines...
But there was still more cycling to be done. The guidebook warned us that the next section would be "almost completely deserted" and "exposed to the wind and the sun." Sadly there was no sun, but it was right on the rest of it. This section was wet and windy, and now I just wanted to be in Amboise. There were hills too, mostly but not always up.
But we got there and arrived in Amboise above the town, so the good news was that it was all downhill from here. For most of that I had my brakes on though as there were a few sharp bends. The Loire à Velo path led us into the car park in the town and we opted to head towards the pretty town centre.
Having seen the main street and the Chateau d'Amboise it was time to locate our hotel. There was a handy hotel locator map outside the chateau, and it was then we realised we still had some cycling to do. Out of town, uphill. Up three of them to be precise, but by the end of our stay in Amboise I was mostly cycling up them. Slowly, but cycling nonetheless.
We walked back into the town that evening, and it took us twenty minutes, so we were quite a way out of town. But it was a pretty town - just look at the charm of those gates and that wall - and well worth that walk, even in the rain. And I even spotted a passionflower. I really must get one for my garden, they are the strangest looking flowers, but still beautiful.
So after our five hours on the road, with a moving time of just under four hours, I was pleased to be in the warm and dry. And pleased to have secured the ok from MOH to introduce some tactical pannier packing for our next "with luggage" cycle. But first I needed to recover as next up was our trip to Chenonceau. And yes, another chateau. But more on that next time.