Saumur to Nouâtre – 60km
After some rain overnight, we woke to a much cooler and slightly overcast day. We were on the road after another breakfast with no egg and headed for Chinon. The first 15km was on smooth new bitumen and it was fantastic. Friend Rick had recommended roads but we continue with our mix and match route taking us onto river paths. We are now on the River Vienne, the Loire left behind just as we passed the sign for Fontenvraud Abbey where we visited two years ago. We crossed the river so that our approach to Chinon was on the right bank and we could pass by the hotel we previously stayed at. Here we make a mistake, as the official cycle route is on the opposite side. The path we chose was atrocious and we cycled approx 4km standing up as it was simply too pot holed to sit down.
We reached Chinon in time for lunch and after chaining our bikes up with all our gear other than a backpack with important bits, we found a hidden small garden restaurant where we ordered the Plat du Jour – turkey in cream sauce with green beans – superb for €9 each. We also visited my favourite patisserie and as luck was on our side there were two pieces of the chocolate and pistachio tart left.
The ride from Chinon was perfect, clean smooth roads, quiet with virtually no traffic and through dozens of vineyards and wineries. We shot along at great speed, aided by the wind behind us. We made such good time that we arrived at our accommodation “La Ferme du Temple” early at 4pm. What a find this was – Nouâtre, right on the River Vienne. We met our hosts Joan and Roger and were shown our room in the attic. This couple know how to run a Chambre d’hôte. There was even a guest kitchenette with honesty bar. Joan offered to do a load of washing for us which was so welcome. We then sat by the large pond and watched the wildlife come and go. I thought I was seeing things when what appeared to be an otter swam by. Not an otter but something far more bizarre – a Coypu. Apparently the French used to hunt them as the fur is valued but obviously escapees from somewhere. Originally from South America where we saw them 12 years ago and a member of the same rodent family as Guinea pigs. Joan said she used to feed them but when their population grew and they would follow her around the garden with their big yellow teeth, she decided to stop the supplements. Roger values them as they keep the greenery around the pond trimmed back.
We had a lovely meal prepared by Joan out on the patio with another French couple. Duncan excelled himself with his French as Monsieur Pierre spoke not a word of English and Genevieve a few words. We managed to share a two hour conversation over what Roger described as “salad with duck bits”, fillet of pork, cheese and a fine panacotta dessert, all washed down with a few glasses of vino. Bed at 11:30, oops.
As Pierre approached the next day saying “Good Morning” with a big smile, he handed us a card and said if we ever go to Lyon, their home city, we should get in touch. They left for the wild north west coast. The best stay on our trip so far. So good we will have to return, but for longer.