Since Werner had never been to the Loire Valley we decided to make it our 2013 destination. We went about it in a new way - we bought a bike carrier for the car and drove to France. Once there we did a "base-camp" as opposed to linear tour. That is, we made extended stays at several locations and did day tours from there.

Having a car at our disposal certainly had its advantages; we could drive 15 or 20km and start out day's tour a little farther from our base, thus widening our reachable radius. The other great advantage of having an auto is that it allowed us to bring back more bottles of wine than we could have with just bike luggage!

Although you can't really call it a disadvantage, we both found that the mood of the trip was completely different from that of the previous year. For one, having a car made it less of a true adventure than being completely dependent on the bikes and only having what we could carry. And then of course there's the Loire Valley itself - one could spend all day every day of a two week vacation touring historic sites and gardens and still only scratch the surface. We spent a lot of time touring buildings and towns, and however much we enjoyed our visits, it was time we didn't spend riding.

Another interesting aspect of this vacation was the location of our accommodations. Two were in very rural settings and two in towns. The advantages of a rural setting are almost the same as the disadvantages - the quiet and solitude. In both of our rural settings we were several kilometers out of town and that means that at dinnertime you have to either picnic or ride the bike or drive to town. And driving the car to and from dinner means that someone has to be designated driver, i.e. drink less wine. To get around this problem we did a good bit of picnicking at our lodgings - that way no one had to be designated driver!

We really enjoyed the trip but it definitely had a different feeling than the "pure bicycle" trips.

Loire Landscapes and Chateaux