Loire Valley cycling trip: Day 4, La Daguenière to Montjean

Slowly but surely, we are getting our posts and pix up about our cycling trip through France’s Loire Valley! It’s just pretty hard to sit down at the computer and sort through photos, look back at the maps, and write up the posts, when the summer weather has been so good! But we are almost there – here is Day 4 of our 5-day, 220 km trip.

Throughout our whole trip, the weather in France  (in Nice, riding to Monaco, and over the first few days of this trip) had been hot and muggy. But this morning, as we ate breakfast chatting with the owners of our little B&B on the south side of the Loire in the village of La Daguenière, the sky was dark and grey – definitely threatening rain. Well, cycling in the rain is not the number one thing on my “fun” list. But, on the other hand, the weather had been so amazing our whole time that it almost felt like we needed a bit of nastiness to make the trip seem more… real. So off we went!

And sure enough, it wasn’t long til a squall hit! There was nothing for us to shelter “under” – but the rain was so horizontal that we could mostly shelter from it by going “behind” – in this case, behind a hedge. It’s hard to catch rainfall in a photo – but you can kind of see how it’s pounding down on the street behind me.

The squall soon mellowed to sprinkling, and we set off again. Throughout this day and the next, we could tell that we were approaching the Atlantic Ocean, as a stiff headwind blowing up the river became stronger and stronger. The rain finally stopped, and we were back to pretty good riding weather – just having to push a bit harder against that wind.

The day gradually brightened, and we were back to riding through lovely French agricultural countryside.

Our first scheduled stop for the day was 25 km into our route. We were following the north bank of the Loire from La Daguenière. This section of the river has several large islands in it. One of these is Béhuard Island, site of a famous church. I didn’t quite get from our guidebook (written in French) why this church was so notable – it just said because it was “built on  a rock.” Well, so what, lots of churches are, right? But once I saw it, I realized that it really was special!

When they say “built on a rock,” they really mean it… the foundation conforms right into this rocky outcropping. Impressive enough from the outside…

But also really impressive from the inside, the way the bedrock is part of the whole structure.

This church was constructed in the late 1400s, ordered by Louis XI. Centuries before that, a statue of the virgin had been set up on this rock.

Then we continued on towards the village of Montjean, where we would spend the night. This is the town of La Poissonière, still on the north bank of the Loire.

The church in La Poissonière.

Biking along the north bank of the Loire. The river just keeps getting wider – check out the big bridge ahead.

The bridges in this section of the river take advantage of the many islands – which really are big, low sandbars that have become vegetated. We crossed the bridge to the big Ile de Chalonnes, a long low island that is nearly 10 km along, and rode along the island’s south shore, before crossing from it to the river’s south bank, entering the village of Montjean. Here you can see the western tip of Ile de Chalonnes as we cross.

And finally, into Montjean for the night, where we stayed at an Inn right in town, with our second-floor room overlooking the river!

Yet another amazing day… stopping at patisseries for yummy French baking (like you just cannot get at home), and first lunch and second lunch (with local wine of course!). Our distance for the day was about 46 km – which sounds short for serious cyclists, but was plenty, considering all the amazing things to stop and see (and eat) along the route.

  1. #1 by cyclingrandma on September 11, 2012 - 2:11 pm

    Curious- did you go with Discover France? We did a Dordogne trip in June with them.

    • #2 by Jacqueline Windh on September 11, 2012 - 2:25 pm

      No, we didn’t go with any tour at all. We just did it ourselves.

      We rented bikes from http://www.locationdevelos.com/ – great touring bikes with panniers and all necessary gear – and figured out the route ourselves. We also had the guidebook “The Complete Loire à Vélo Trail, from Nevers to the Atlantic,” by Michel Bonduelle (Editions Ouest-France) – hard to find the English version of it online (the French one is pretty common). You can buy it by mail from the Tours tourism office. It is an excellent book, with great maps that are designed for cycling (appropriate scale, appropriate info).

      Once we’d figured out our route, and which towns we wanted to stay at on which nights, I just searched and reserved accommodation online. We were really happy doing it that way.

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