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Loire Valley: Day of no Chateaus

For once, we had a route that had no chateau tours. There were still plenty on our route but they were privately owned and not open to the public. But that left us time for two other goals: wine tasting and pommes frites tasting.

Before our ride we procured picnic supplies at a local market which had everything from cheese to ball caps marked with an “NY” logo. When Laurie and i hiked the Camino across France and Spain last year running across a local market was a real treat. The one in our base town, Bourgueil, occurs Tuesdays and is a great one. Wish we had more time to explore it before the ride.

We started under overcast skies which kept it cool for the morning. By late morning it had burned off as the temperatures headed to the mid-80s. Our scenery included many vineyards, typical small French towns, and a friendly donkey.

We also stopped at one of the many family wineries where the owner escorted us into a cool, underground cellar to sample a few bottles. One of the things we enjoyed in Germany was the many family wineries with great product and reasonable prices. But, one bottle was all we could carry this time.

Our other goal was tasting what we call French fries, but the French themselves call pommes frites. Our guides had told us the cafe at the local lake park had some of the best frites in the region. Our two previous attempts to go were thwarted by an unplanned closure of the cafe and a day that went longer than expected. But today was the day. They were very good, but anticipation may have been half the fun.

Fun French Facts

When we hiked the Camino across France last year we noticed that almost every small town had a building called a Mairie—which translates to City Hall. They often serve as a multi-purpose city hall, community center, and even primary school. This year we noticed a few towns had a building called a Hotel de Ville—which also translates to City Hall. And in our current home base of Bourgueil—they have both! Our guides, Mark and Debbie, cleared it up for us. Small towns have a Mairie while bigger ones have a Hotel de Ville. In the case of Bourgueil the town population shrank and now they only rate a Mairie. Mark, who served on the council for the local town, said they have quite a bit of responsibility.

Laurie’s relive video captures some of the fun, concluding with frite tasting. We have one more day of riding before we start our journey home.