5: Wind, Wind, Wind

I decided to take advantage of the relatively short leg today and spend the morning Angers. First I paid another visit to the cathedral, which naturally took on (literally) a different light on this beautifully sunny day. The stained glass was even more magnificent than the previous evening. I took the time to read the descriptions of the stories told by the windows – fascinating how the artists can tell a story so succinctly and often so beautifully, and how this creation withstands the test of centuries.

After the cathedral visit I made my way to the castle where I visited the grounds (grapevines growing on the top of castle walls!) and was entranced by the Apocalypse Tapestry. It’s a tapestry, 140 feet long, created in the 13th century and illustrating biblical stories of the Apocalypse (thank God there were descriptions of what was being depicted). Another fascinating example of artistic and succinct storytelling.

As I made my way back to the hotel I stopped at a boulangerie and picked up picnic provisions and then by shortly after midday I was heading out of town. Not too far out of town was a lake and a park so I stopped there and ate my little lunch.

The stretch along the river Maine was lovely – the river was directly to the left and the smells of water and poplar trees was heavenly. Before too long I reached the confluence of the Maine and the Loire, and of course I just had to stop and take pictures.

Following the recommendations of the tour materials, my next stop was on an island in the Loire at a quaint little village. I wasn’t all that enthralled by it – I was hoping to find some cute little café where I could have a cup of coffee, but didn’t – and so after a walk around (walking around pushing the bike does not help your average speed…) I headed back to the mainland up the steep hill into the village of Savennièrres where I managed to find a cup of coffee at a café with a view of a quaint little church.

The next stretch was through vineyards and farmlands and then the route headed down onto a levee with farmlands on one side and the Loire flood plain on the other – and the wind coming at me from the front. That was difficult and made the going slower than it might have been. I took the opportunity to do more clickie riding – it really helped!

I was extremely thankful to reach the bridge which led over to the island of Chalonnes that comprised the next stretch of the route. I had no idea that the Loire contained such large inhabited islands. This one was several miles long with farms (corn, cows) and teeny villages (4 houses gathered together). It was really beautiful with the afternoon sunlight streaming through the trees.

The next crossing was over a very teeny bridge back onto the left (south) bank of the Loire for the last stretch of the trip to Ingrandes, my destination for the night. Another levee road with more head wind and cars zipping by. Ugh.

By the time I got to the hotel it was about 5pm and I was totally pooped! Thank goodness the hotel is an oasis of calm – my window faced the fields and a delicious breeze blew. I collapsed for a bit and after a shower I was once again ready to join humanity.

As I arrived in the dining room, Malte & Elisabeth were going in to dinner and so I joined them for a lovely meal.

This is a very sweet little hotel – seemingly in the middle of nowhere, only 2 star, but sun with familial care. And the food is definitely to be praised.

First course: Mousse de foie grason a bed of salad accompanied by a tiny heap of caramelized onions (Malte & I agreed that there could have been more caramelized onions)

Main course: Roasted Pintadeau (guinea hen) in orange sauce, accompanied by a few bites of vegetables, a corner of pear poached in red wine and a small square of scalloped potatoes.

Dessert: A rectangle of a creamy pear tart thingy - sponge cake bottom topped with 2 inches of pear-scented cream. Totally tasty!

Day 5

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