Very easy and short route to Charters took us through endless wheat pastures of central France. In Senonches we realized that somewhere along the way we crossed the border between Normandy and Centre, the two French regions. It seems that Centre is a bit more developed. However this is only a cyclist’s point of view. I know nothing about French regional divisions.
Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798 with a goal to take control of the Nile valley, which back then could provide enough wheat for the French empire. After miles and miles of wheat pastures of region Centre I start to wonder whether historians were right about this.
It took us a bit over 2.5 hours to get to Charters. Dianna woke up at 10am! (instead of her usual 6) and was awake looking out her window and playing/singing with herself for most of the way. The route was a bit downhill all the way with a SW wind pushing at our backs. The outskirts of Chartres are quite ugly. The centre is nice, dominated by an enormous Chartres cathedral. As the terrain around Chartres is almost flat, the cathedral is visible from at least 10 km away from the town itself.
In town we paid a visit to the cathedral. It does leave an impression. Tomorrow we will cycle all the way to Orleans. Orleans lies in the Loir river valley. From Orleans we will cycle along the Loir river, following the EuroVelo 6 for the next 200 km until we reach Nevers. It is 75km from Chartres to Orleans and with thundery showers in forecast for late afternoon we are bracing ourselves for a tough day.
This was the best day we had so far. The weather was perfect, much warmer than yesterday. Our route took us through some spectacular countryside scenery: small picturesque villages, densely wooded forests, wide open pastures. Gradient en route was only slightly undulating with no major climbs to tackle.
We took a break at the Chateau Ferme Vidamme (or it’s ruins), built some time in the 10th century. After a short pique-nique we continued towards Senonches, an medieval town set among a vast dense forest. Our hotel today is Auberge La Pomme de Pin. Ooops, 5pm we are here and the doors are closed, no sign of life 😉 A half an hour later someone shows up. Rural France is very laid back, sometimes too much so.
Very hard day with terrible weather and tough hills. We started quite like, despite knowing that afternoon is going to bring scattered rain showers into the area. This was to be our longest day so far, around 62km. We were to stay at the Fermes du Florence, a small B&B 9km short of Vimoutiers, a large town in the Orne department of Normandy. The first 35-45km of cycling was uneventful. Road leaving Caen is a very busy D road, turning into a highway at times. Around 5km after Caen we turned onto a much quieter country road and followed the same for the next 35km (D40).
After a brief stop 3km short of St. Pierre sur Dives where Dianna had her lunch, we continued to St. Pierre to have lunch ourselves. This part of Normandy seemed a bit dull. The people around are rough and don’t smile. Towns and villages don’t look very rich. Many were destroyed during WWII and rebuilt to a much lower standard. The town centre of St. Pierre sur Dives turned into Saturday market for bikers. There were two brasseries in town and both around the biker market. It seemed that everyone around smoked. It started raining very hard when we sat down for lunch. The rain passed and we continued towards Vimoutiers. The next 20km should have been quite hilly. Instead of continuing towards Trun and then NE to Vimoutiers we took small side roads to cut some distance.
The rain finally caught up with us on one of the small roads where we also got the news that we will not be able to stay at the Fermes Florance (no baby bed and 48 hour prior notice to server us dinner). We had to cycle 9km past this B&B to Vimoutiers, where luckily I’ve found a vacancy at the Hotel La Coronne.
Thereafter it rained on and off, sometimes quite hard until we got to Vimoutiers. It also became quite hilly, with the next 10km giving us almost 500 meters of climbing.
Last 9km to Vimoutiers were downhill. Hotel La Coronne is a story worthy of a separate post 😉 With most of its staff drunk and rude, smoking bans not really having an effect on neither the staff nor the guests and rooms looking as this was a roadside trucker lodge somewhere in Laos. It took some time for Dianna to finally go to bed.