Saturday 9 June Loudun, Poitou Charentes, France. 115 km, total 520 km
At 6 am there was so much mist that we could only see the nearby tree. We wanted to begin the days cycle with a stretch along the Loire and thought it would be lovely in the mist. A dream world, the low banks of the river wreathed in opaque layers, low marsh meadows, ancient pollarded trees, white cattle glowing in dim sun. Ponds and shining levels reflecting old cream and brown farm houses – perfect images, so still the air. I was glad to have seen the Loire in this mood. We cycled to Chalonne for breakfast. Big brown beautiful croissants.
In the bar toilet I changed into shorts and prepared myself with suncream and skinny T shirt. The mist foretold a scorching day. Turning south from the Loire we entered a terrain of sloping hot grape fields. A clear blue sky weighting all the land down it seemed. Smell of honeysuckle and wild roses. Beautiful big black and yellow butterflies and plain primrose coloured brimstones.
We drew up in Doue la Fontaine for lunch, where we were unceremoniously presented with 2 measly sandwiches and overcharged. Doue also has Roman arenas but we were so fed up of the unfriendly town that we weren’t prepared to pay to go in. The country changed again as we moved on through, becoming greener and more rolling, the villages empty, many great white spacious buildings behind large gates.
Dogs, troglodyte villages; we saw a couple of the caves, they were in peoples back gardens. Dogs chased us off. A land of great rolling vistas, still villages, heat, roads unmarked. Eventually, we arrived at Loudun, a cite type town upon a hilltop, where, hungry and thirsty, we found a bar to eat croissants then shopped at the campsite.
A modestly priced municipal site, beautifully kept and clean. Free long hot showers. It felt so different to be clean again. Fortunately you only realise this when you have already become clean again. The proud campsite officer gave us and a sarcastic French holidayaker a meticulous tour of the toilets, male and female, taps, the hot water and the cold, the light switches. Even the dustbins were proudly demonstrated (emptied twice a week) at which the sarcastic Frenchman applauded ‘bravo’
As we were about to eat a cloud rained heavily so we adjourned into the tent where we were hot and dry taking with us the bottle of a white fruity Anjou through which town we had just passed.