Quote that sums up the week from Frederieke:
“It is a surprise when something is open.”
Due to “iffy” wi-fi on the barge, I’m playing catch-up now …the trip is over. As it turns out -it really wasn’t our favorite bike & barge trip (out of the four we’ve done).
To be fair – Frederieke and the crew were handed a “crap” sandwich this week and their job was to serve it up to us with a smile and convince us it was delicious.
It became more and more obvious that the route and our stops were being improvised on the go. While the barge barely moved more than a few miles on most days; we were dragged all over the countryside, basically riding around in circles on a bike route mainly designed to fill up the day more than actually get us anywhere.
The crew did their best -and I can’t fault them for that. Frederieke is actually my favorite guide of any bike/barge trip we’ve done. She just approached each day like an adventure and we could feel the genuine joy she felt just being out there on a bike. When she had to fuss at us, she did it with aplomb. When she made a wrong turn -she just laughed and corrected course.
But overall…the trip was a disappointment for us.
That said – we did, occasionally, stumble onto something interesting -which I’ll share. The rest of the time, I’ll just throw in the pictures I took along the way…
Day 2: We rodeo about 25 miles @ an average speed of 9.8 mph! The bike GPS is giving me a bit of conflicting info -we may have ridden a bit further, but I can’t confirm it.
We started the morning with a short ride up to the lock to wait to watch the Clair de Lune pass through. We’ve seen a few locks & dams in our day -but it was interesting to watch the process involved for such a small lock. The Clair de Lune had inches to spare on either side.
After I took the picture above, I moved to the other end of the lock. Another lady was standing near me when the lock-master came out of the control room for the lock -it was a small building on the edge- and asked us if we’d like to see how the lock operated. Technically we weren’t supposed to be in there!
And we were off.
One of the big problems during this week was finding places for our breaks during the day. Frederieke was always on the lookout for a place with coffee/beverages and a restroom for us for our breaks. It seemed like everything was closed everywhere in France between noon and 2:00 PM… so she tended to jump on whatever small possibility we stumbled across if it was between those hours.
Today she saw what looked like a small hotel/restaurant and she rode right in through the gates bold as brass and asked if our group could take our break there.
It was called the Auberge des Templars. I couldn’t find much on line about the history, but it is a very old building. What I did find said that this location was a staging post for the Templars -which as I understand it- means that it was sort of an overnight rest stop for Templars as they traveled from one place to another in France.
Mike and I each had a diet-coke. When I went to pay, the reception desk lady said… $10 Euros each = $20 Euros total – with a straight face! WHAT??????? That same bottle of coke is less than $3 Euros almost everywhere!
Outside as we were leaving, someone had parked an antique Bentley in the parking lot.
We got back on our bikes to go, all of us slightly dizzy from sticker shock. As we passed out of the gates to the road, I saw this car parked right outside –
I laughed, thinking it was probably deemed far too “unimpressive” to actually be allowed to painside the gates of the hotel.
Next, as we were riding along a small back road, Frederieke stopped to tell us that this area was a wild boar hunting field. We could see spots along the edges of the road where the dirt had been dug up by boars. She said they dig for acorns. If you look close, you can see a boar pictured on the sign by Frederieke. There were hunting stands spaced out along the field for about 1/2 a mile.
Our lunch stop was at Chateau de La Bussiere – for a tour and lunch. When we pulled up to the gates, they were closed up tight. Yep -closed between noon and 2 P.M.
The attendant saw us and came to speak with Frederieke. She agreed to let us inside the gates so that we could sit down and eat our lunches, but the Chateau could not be toured until 2:00.
We parked our bikes and walked through this tunnel (below) into a very large courtyard area where we at least could find some shade.
There were a few rooms along the courtyard besides the stables, such as the old orangery (greenhouse) and the courtroom. Due to the de Tillets being Lords, they had the right to administer justice for their lands. It was a very small room. On the back wall, there was a painting representing Christ on the cross. It was in front of that painting that both witnesses and the accused took their oaths to God and King. It was in this room that the Lord judged the crimes and offenses that occurred on the estate.
The original chateau was built in the late 1100’s. From the 1540’s until 1789 it was owned by the du Tillet family. They lost possession of the chateau during the French Revolution.
In 1814, Alphonse, Count of Chasseval became the owner of the chateau. The de Chasseval family owns it to this day. The Chateau has been open to the public since the 1960’s to help pay for it’s upkeep. Early on, the owners promoted it as a fishing destination. (Thus the fishing decor in the pictures you’ll see). Now there are a variety of ways for the chateau to earn it’s keep. Aside from the entry fee, they host events and even have a small hotel to one side.
They were nice enough to open the Chateau a bit early for us so we could tour it and get back on the road.
When we were riding toward the chateau, we’d passed along a very long privacy wall, which I’d assumed was enclosing an old property (but not knowing we were going to be touring it!) I’d seen an impressive, but obviously not in use, gate along that wall. It wasn’t until I walked to get the picture (above) of the chateau that I realized that the gate I’d seen was actually the original “front driveway” of the chateau. Visitors would enter through the gate and travel a long driveway with this view of the chateau ahead.
It was interesting to see the few rooms they had set up for visitors to see, but it is a bit moth-eaten around the edges. We were only allowed to walk through the downstairs areas.
I’m not kidding when I say there were A LOT of fish pictures and fish related odds & ends on display in the chateau. This led Mike to announce that “There is something “fishy” about this house”.
Weirdly, for most of the bikes, the water bottle holder on the bikes was in a spot that couldn’t be reached while riding. So every few miles, Frederieke stopped on the side of the road so we could drink water. That was good because it was quite hot during the week. At one roadside water break, Mike found some blackberries.
Not long after Mike’s berries snack, we joined the canal-side bike path looking for the Clair de Lune. There is a bike path along the entire canal system. We would have saved ourselves a lot of miles and time by staying on it more often… 😆
It wasn’t long before we spotted the barge across the canal.
The captain saw me taking this photo while riding and called across the water… “Both hands on the wheel!” (He was joking…I think?)
We had to go a bit further past the barge, cross another bridge over the canal and circle back.
We rarely knew where we were half the time if there wasn’t a sign.
Mike and I walked into town, hoping for a grocery store. Are you surprised to find out that everything in town was closed by the time we got there?