France – Jour 19 – Part 1

Duvine Loire Valley Cycling Adventure – Day 5

This was it – our last full day, and our last cycling day!  After a hearty breakfast – we trooped out to the bikes for our briefing. Given I was still recovering from my cold – I suggested maybe I get in the van for the first half and then do the second half.  I was cajoled into doing the first half – as this would actually be an easier ride. I was up for it!

Today – our destination was Villandry, famed for its garden more than its château.  We headed out from Domaine de la Tortiniére and out past the city’s old aqueduct…

We managed to get a photo of le pull gris in action!

At one stage – I made Andrew stop because the wildflowers on the side of the road were ridiculous! Don’t you love the way I’m colour coordinated!?!

We stopped at Café des Sports in Savonnières, which is about 10 minutes from the Château, to get a morning coffee!   Savonnières is right on the Cher River before it joins the Loire. We decided to take some pics!

Me and Padraic – By the River Cher at Savonnières

The girls – Me, Maureen and Marg

The Chateau…

We reached Villandry after our caffeine hit – and head into the garden.  Oh my goodness – the garden is just spectacular. We started by walking along the “Belvedere” – the raised walkway that surrounds the garden – it afforded us a spectacular view.

Our view from The Belvedere ~ Can you believe this garden!!??

The Garden of Love

The Panorama shot!

The Canal

The gardens are watered from the redirection and taming of a natural waterway through the middle of the estate.

In the vines along the canal…

…then “Snap!” – I caught Andrew down a different row of vines!

Even the vegetable garden is ornamental – with the leaves of each vegetable providing an artistic and colourful contribution.

Ornamental pumpkins remind us that it’s Autumn here…

Andrew – uncharacteristically saying “Huzzah”

We only had a short time at Villandry – so we satisfied ourselves by just enjoying the gardens.  I figured we had a choice – we could spend some time looking through the château – or we could have lunch.  I bet you know what I went for!

For lunch we were fending for ourselves – so on the whisper and a promise of a café not far away that served both crepes and pizzas – Andrew and I headed off in search of sustenance.

It turned out that the creperie / pizzeria was a Villandry myth – so we settled for pizza at Pizzeria L’Orangerie à Villandry.

I ordered a rosé, while Andrew had a beer.  On the table there was some pretty powerful looking chilli oil! Ooh la la!! Don’t go pouring that into your wine glass!

Andrew ordered the Mexicana – not sure why?  I think he missed the fact that it had corn on it.  Other than the corn though – it was pretty OK.

I can’t remember the name of my pizza – but it had mushrooms and that’s probably why I ordered it.  There are never enough mushrooms though… d’oh!  One thing I can tell you about this pizza though – it was the thinnest crust pizza I have ever had in my life. I swear the base was a millimetre thick (if that!).  It was über crispy though – so while the topping wasn’t all that great, the crust was extraordinary!

We made our way back to the château, where we had left our bikes and were going to rendezvous with the rest of the team.  Of course – there was a creperie just in front!!  Gee whiz!!

Pulling the crew along – out the front again!!

Not that I’m really that into Foie Gras – but the photo opportunity was too brilliant!

Anyway – I felt pretty good so had no problems getting back on my bike for the remainder of the ride.  The afternoon ended up being absolutely lovely as we wound our way back to our hotel.

A refreshing ale!

It was the end of our official riding! So sad – especially after two weeks of spectacular cycling through lush French landscape.  There’s only one thing to do… have a beer!  We’d earned it!  Today was actually one of my favourite days on the bike – great coffee, great company, a gorgeous chateau and garden and feeling much better!!  What more could a girl want?

How about an enchanted forest?   The forest at the front of the property was putting on nature’s show ~ The whole landscape was carpeted with cyclamens. It looked amazing.  We went crazy with our cameras…

At one stage I even sat amongst them to get up close and personal!

This was a truly magical place – and a very special way to finish up the tour!

Here are the statistics for you…

Distance: 42.5 km                             Elevation: 170 m

Map of Day 5 Ride

Elevation – Day 5

I guess we were all set for our farewell dinner tonight… there would be no grey sweaters tonight… or would there…?