Sunday, 31 July 2011

Day 10: From Orléans to Blois. A day of scorching heat, totally unrelieved by the headwind: another day in the hairdryer with frequent water stops.

Breakfast was a rather chilly affair. Madame Cañada clearly resented my complaints of the previous evening.She tried to be chummy, but she quite put me off my coffee and croissants in the process.

I left as soon as I could. Once out on the streets, it was clear that the day was to be a very hot one as the weather forecast had predicted, with temperatures in the mid thirties. I was immediately aware of the pain in the backside and not very keen on a day of switching uncomfortably from one buttock to the other. Still, there was nothing much to be done but to carry on. The idea of jumping on the train at this stage in the proceedings occurred, but was immediately rejected.

I crossed the Pont de l'Europe and after a few miles of cycle path along the road, it was back to the levée to Meung-sur-Loire

A field of poppies somewhere near to Meung-sur-Loire

View Orleans to Blois in a larger map]

Meung-sur-Loire - pronounced as though it were written 'Min-sur-Loire' - is a pleasant little place, so I stopped for a while.

Le Château de Meung-sur-Loire

I had a look at the castle,

Église Saint-Liphard de Meung-sur-Loire

the church or collégiale,

The 'Porte d'Amont' the clock on which has 61 minutes marked on its face.

and the town gates.

The next village after Meung was Beaugency, another of the towns liberated from the English by Jeanne d'Arc.

The remains of the Château de Beaugency

notable for its Mousterian (i.e. Neanderthal) remains and for the remnants of its eminent medieval past. It has a bridge dating from the eleventh century, though numerous disasters, floods, wars and the like, and subsequent repairs and restorations have hidden the original character of the construction.

The 'Pont de Beaugency'
The clock tower in the rue du Changé, Beaugency

After Beaugency, the scenery was ruined by yet another nuclear power-station at Saint-Laurent-des-Eaux. Again, it was a question of getting past and beyond it as quickly as possible.

After a lunch stop at the artificial lake near Suèvres called Le Domino I kept up a reasonable pace along the levée all the way to Blois even though the heat around 2.00 pm was pretty exhausting.

View Orleans to Blois in a larger map]

As I arrived at my destination at around 3.30 a digital thermometer outside a chemists registered 38 degrees Celsius. I made straight for my hotel, the inappropriately named La Renaissance. A shower and a nap and I was ready for a look around.

General view of Blois from the left bank of the Loire

Blois is a pretty town with a royal castle slap bang in the middle of it. At least this impressive pile can use the termRenaissance of itself without inviting derisive sniggers, though it is a collection of buildings of various architectural styles from medieval Gothic through Renaissance to Classical.

Le Château de Blois


Le Château de Blois from the other side.

The Eglise Saint-Nicolas has a choir and transept dating from the twelfth century and towers from the thirteenth.

Eglise Saint-Nicolas, Blois, from the Place du Château.
The facade of the Eglise Saint-Nicolas

The Cathédrale Saint-Louis has been rebuilt numerous times - notably in the twelfth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries over the original Carolingian crypt. The present building is late Gothic.

The 'Cathédrale Saint-Louis', Blois.

After a tour of the sights, I had dinner on the Place Louis XII and then spent a hot night at the Hôtel La Renaissanceplagued by the most alarming noises from the plumbing.

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