Sunday, 31 July 2011

Day 11: From Blois to Tours. Another day of high temperatures, two notable 'châteaux' and a lot of winding through the countryside.

I left La Renaissance at about 9.00 and the day was already hot. I crossed the Loire at the Pont Jacques Gabriel and made straight off down the bank of the river. I was forced to return after a few minutes when I realised that I needed to buy water. I set off again carrying three litres of the stuff and already thirsty.
The cycle-track didn't stick to the levée because this was occupied by a busy road. It ran parallel to the road for a while and then snaked off through the countryside on small roads, passing through the village of Chailles, then Candé-sur-Beuvron, before coming back to the river just upstream from Chaumont.

Approaching Chaumont

I was now in the heart of the real château country, but I'd decided that I'd only take a look at those châteaux that were easily accessible from the cycle-track, so the big names would have to wait for another occasion.

The Château de Chaumont.

Still, Chaumont is quite a big name and easily visible from the river bank.

View Blois to Tours in a larger map]

Then it was back to the small roads through Rilly-sur-Loire, Chargé and Le Clos du Saule before arriving by a circuitous route in Amboise. This detour enabled me to get a look at the Manoir du Clos-Lucé, the house occupied by Leonardo da Vinci during his time in Amboise.

Le Manoir de Clos-Lucé




The view from the Pont du Maréchal Leclerc with Amboise and its Château in the background


The Château d'Amboise

From Amboise, I decided to follow the D751 rather than sticking to the cycle-track that shot off into the countryside at regular intervals following small lanes. I was suffering pretty badly with my piles and the climbs that had to be tackled as soon as one left the river bank were a bit of a trial as was the searing temperature and the road seemed to be the easiest option. Fortunately, it was Sunday and the lorries were not a problem.

View Blois to Tours in a larger map]

I followed the D751 as far as Montlouis-sur-Loire, shortly after which I got back on the cycle-track since it now ran parallel to the road. And that was how I arrived in Tours.

The part of the city on the left bank around the end of the Pont Wilson was closed to traffic because of an antique car rally. I joined the crowds of onlookers for a while, admiring the old cars

Antique cars on the Pont Wilson


More antiques



I watched the parade of old sports cars

Old sports cars.

and then went off to find a hotel. As it happened, I was very lucky and probably got one of the last rooms in town. Every hotel was full because of the antique car festival, but somehow, the Hôtel Colbert in the rue Colbert happened to have one room left. I took it without hesitation and, after the obligatory shower went to have a look at the rest of the town.

Tours is totally clogged with traffic and every little island of old buildings is surrounded by huge roads with volleys of traffic hurtling along them. Not much remains of the old town.
I took a look at the cathedral, a fine Gothic pile built between 1170 and 1547,

Cathédrale Saint-Gatien de Tours

and the château, a fairly undistinguished building that once housed an aquarium and now accommodates a number of collections of twentieth century art.

The Château de Tours.

Hunger soon drove me to find a restaurant. I had dinner in a fairly indifferent Italian establishment in the Place Foire le Roi, argued with the waiter for a while about the bill and then gratefully went straight to bed.

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