Loire Valley
Nantes to Angers May 31 / June 14, 2010

Michael J. Ferguson

Journal Index


1  Introduction
2  Montreal to Nantes, Sun. 30 May / Mon. 31 May
3  Nantes to Le Mouchet, Tue. June 31
4  Le Mouchet to Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Wed. June 2
5  Chalonnes-sur-Loire to Angers, Thurs. June 2
6  Angers, Fri. June 4
7  Chateau de Serrant, Sat. June 5
8  Angers to Montjean-sur-Loire, Sun. June 7
9  Montjean-sur-Loire to Ancenis, Mon. June 7
10  Ancenis to Angers, Tues. June 8
11  Nantes, Wed.June 9 to Sat. June 12
12  Camping du Petit Port to Nantes/Atlantique Airport, Sun. June 13
13  Nantes to Montreal, Mon. June 14
14  Maps

1  Introduction

This was a short trip of 2 weeks, which could be possibly interrupted by the Icelandic ash cloud, but, fortunately, wasn't.

2  Montreal to Nantes, Sun. 30 May / Mon. 31 May

This was an unappropriately uneventful trip on Air Transat that arrived in Nantes to, as the pilot said, ``rather horrible weather, cold and rain''. My bicycle and trailer came off last, giving me the customary worry about whether it had actually arrived. I put it together, with an appropriate audience, and went off in a slight drizzle, towards Carrefour. Although I was using my GPS, I had incredible difficulty getting out of the airport. After several wrong turns, and backtracks, I was on my way. It was much easier when I turned on the ``navigation information'' and accepted the smaller map.

After getting supplies, I proceeded towards Le Petit Port campground which was exactly where my GPS said it should be.

3  Nantes to Le Mouchet, Tue. June 31

It drizzled during the night but mercifully had stopped when I took down my tent. As usual, on my first day, it took a while to organize the trailer so I didn't leave until quite late. After passing theCatédrale, with its rather uncrowded plaza,

and the Chateau,

I found the beginning of the La Loire à Velo bicycle path.

It is indeed rather pleasant not having to fight with trucks and cars. However, not all sections were as pleasant as this. Some sections were shared with trucks, but they gave you quite a bit of margin. The Loire was quite pleasant, but the strange highlight of the day were some innovative flying scarecrows.

One complication of the technology was that the birds did not totally control their flight and some became snared on their pole, losing a certain amount of dynamic interest.

There were occasional showers all day but it was dry when I put up my tent in the Le Mouchet campground.

4  Le Mouchet to Chalonnes-sur-Loire, Wed. June 2

It started out overcast, but at least it is not raining. It remained overcast and dreary for most of the day, and noticeably cold. The La Loire à Velo was reasonably well marked, but I am sure I missed more than a few turns. I had remembered that the Loire Valley was rather flat from my trip through it in the late 80's. However, I did hit a couple of very steep hills that forced me to walk my bicycle. Maybe 20 years ago, I would not considered them so formidable.

I arrived at Chalonnes-sur-Loire to see the town with a backdrop of grey, but at least, it was not raining.

My final trial for the day was to find the Candais campground. The Michelin GPS coordinates were incorrect so I had to ask. The instructions that I was given were quite explicit, and the sing at the first roundabout quite reassuring. I also passed a large grocery store, the first one I had seen since Nantes, so I was able to reprovision. One major problem with bicycle paths is that they tend not to have services on the path. I found the Candais, but the gates were closed, and there was no one around. Apparently they were only open on weekends but their season had at least started. I was able to get in via the pedestrian entrance, and set up my tent for a very nice, quiet night. Just after I arrived, a family with a large trailer arrived. They spent the night outside the locked gate.

5  Chalonnes-sur-Loire to Angers, Thurs. June 2

The morning started in beautiful sunshine, and stayed that way all day. It was much nicer to see everything shining brightly.

I crossed back over the Loire, and continued on the bicycle path. It started nicely through the fields and eventually ended up back on the Loire where it went under the impressive Pont de Cholet.

This is poppy time, and the fields, and even small plots by the train tracks were crimson.

The Loire is, indeed, a real working river, and as I approached La Possonnère the moored fishing skiffs showed it.

The Loire à Velo signs from La Possonnère to Angers were very hard to find, and occasionally when I did, they sent me off onto a short side trip. One was to the small picturesque? town of Behuard.

It appeared that the signs again disappeared, but as I later discovered, since this was a side trip, they just terminated at the town border.

Later, I was forced up some more devastating hills passing some terraced vineyards on the way.

Later the path, still unmarked, appeared to go through the woods.

The final leg for the day was along another unmarked bicycle path along the Maine river. Again, the GPS coordinates of Camping Lac Le Maine were incorrect, but I finally saw some signs leading to it. I have a very nice spot by the entrance, and am close enough to get their WiFi signal.

6  Angers, Fri. June 4

The sunshine is continuing and its rather nice. After provisioning, I rode into the center of Angers.

The first stop was the Chateau, which was really a fortified castle with a, now dry, moat and huge towers.

The inner garden was quite simple and formal, but the garden on the top of the wall was much more interesting. There was even a vineyard on the wall.

The Fortified Gate was definitely the most impressive structure in the castle.

The old city had its odd buildings,

and, of course, the Catédrale St. Maurice, complete with the customary renovation construction on the front door.

I rode, randomly, around the old town, knowing that my GPS would get me back to the campground when I needed it. My next stop was the Musée des Beaux Arts in the Place St. Éloi.

On my way to have a glass of cold Sauvignon Blanc I passed the Episcopal Palace

and was surprised by the skill of my neighbour with her chopsticks.

Then it was back to the campground.

7  Chateau de Serrant, Sat. June 5

This morning I rode the 20km or so to the Chateau de Serrant. My Garmin routing insisted on sending me down a private, well sign-posted, road to get there so I had to improvise. It was a relatively easy ride with a totally empty bike.

I rode back to the campground and spent a rather easy afternoon, with a visit to the swimming pool.

8  Angers to Montjean-sur-Loire, Sun. June 7

It poured rain for most of the night, but stopped just after sunrise so I decided to leave. This time, instead of trying to follow the Loire à Velo signs, which were very difficult to find anyway, I opted to try to follow the bank of the river. It started out pleasantly overcast, on a small road,

but soon was reduced to a muddy, unmarked path.

which, at least, had no cars. However this was Sunday, so there were many mountain bikers racing along, and by me. I passed a rather impressive rock tower, right by the river.

and a field of poppies competing with the barley that was planted there.

Just after crossing the small bridge from Ile Chalonnes I was greeted with the remains of an, indeed, strange building.

I stopped, in rather pleasant sunlight, at the campground just out of town.

9  Montjean-sur-Loire to Ancenis, Mon. June 7

This morning started with a light misty rain, which hurried my getting down the tent. A little later in the morning, it was just overcast,

but the sun came out at about noon, and stayed out, after I arrived in Ancenis. I was in absolutely no hurry to get to Nantes, so I stopped and set up camp.

The real delight of this campground, Le Mouchet is the large number of orange breasted birds, possibly European Robins.

Ancenis is rather small, but its, rather modest Eglise St. Pierre is considered, in my Loire à Velo guidebook noteworthy.

On the same square is the town hall,

and just down the street, the chateau.

After an elegant dinner by the Loire, I went to bed.

10  Ancenis to Angers, Tues. June 8

It rained most of the night, but stopped just before sunrise. It continued on and off all day, starting to pour again in earnest just after I put up my tent in Camping du Petit Port. Today was the day that I had to fight the hills. They started in earnest just across the Loire in Champtoceaux from Oudon.

My guide book indicated that there was an alternate path by the river,

that was a little messy if it had been raining. Not only was it muddy and slippery, it quickly degenerated into a single dirt track that went muddily went straight up the hill. Here there was a sign that said ``Sentier Dangereuse'' (Dangerous Path). I turned around and struggled up the hill to La Varenne. Near the top, I could stare down at Oudon.

It was mostly downhill from La Varenne, but the head wind, when I reached the flat land, was vicious. It did make it easy for the flying scarecrows to keep airborne, and ostensively effective.

I arrived in Nantes nat about 3:00pm, and found a McDonald's. It was in the middle of a pedestrian zone, and my Garmin Trail GPS was unable to find the path through that zone. I discovered it by accident as I was going around it in circles.

After checking my email, I rode to the campground and set up the tent.

11  Nantes, Wed.June 9 to Sat. June 12

Since I arrived in Nantes with much time to spare, I was able to ride around town on an empty bicycle, seeing all that I missed on my first day when I rushed out on my to Angers. Much to my delight, McDonald's was open for breakfast so I came there each morning for orange juice and an Egg/Bacon McMuffin.

It rained almost every night, and most mornings were either overcast or drizzle. McDonald's in the pedestrian zone, just off the Place Royale which, when it wasn't raining, was usually crowded with people eating a snack.

Almost all the major attractions were in or beside the pedestrian zone.

The zone was primarily for pedestrians, but it had both bicycles and motorcycles.

Right beside the Place Graslin was a small oasis in the center of town.

One of the more avant garde buildings was the Esplanade de lÉspace Jacques Demy that included the Musée de l'Imprimerie.

The lattice/glass building facades were also unusual.

A delightful little square was the Place du Change.

Two major attractions in Nantes are the Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne and the Catédrale de St. Pierre et St. Paul. The Chateau is a fortified castle in the spirit of the chateau in Angers. I visited it often, having lunch in the moat.

Feeding the birds seemed to be a common sport. The poor coot appeared to be ignored, but the mallards and pigeons did quite well. One of the bird benefactors was indeed well known. The birds flocked to him before he threw them anything and some pigeons ate out of his hand.

The roof of the Catédrale burned and it was restored in 1978. You can see slight differences in colour on the facade,

The current roof, or at least, the inside, is obviously not wood, so burning should no longer be a problem.

The real joy is the outside.

On the left bank of the Loire is Trentemoult, an old fishing village. It did have narrow streets, and small squares but the crowded houses seemed quite modern.

It was very simple to get to Trentemoult on the Navibus ferry. Coming back, the cliff side houses and shops stood out.

One night, I found a bicycle/jogging path by the Rivière Erdre. It certainly was more interesting than riding through town.

There is no sign of the Erdre in the Coeur de Ville because it disappears in a tunnel.

On coming back to my tent, there were usually a few magpies around. They were in fact rather common throughout the entire valley.

Apparently Camping du Petit Port is not the only place to camp in Nantes.

12  Camping du Petit Port to Nantes/Atlantique Airport, Sun. June 13

Last night was only the second dry night that I have had on this trip. It was nice to pack away a dry tent, and everything else. The ride to McDonald's was pleasant, and again down the Erdre. Unfortunately, this was Sunday, and McDonald's did not open until 9:00am, rather than its usual 8:00am. Their WiFi network was still working so I was able to check my mail sitting on the steps by the door.

A French woman bicyclist, approximately my age came along to talk about her travels, which included riding to Italy, and mine. This interlude lasted long enough that McDonald's opened, and I was able to get my standard breakfast, plug in my computer, and check my mail.

There are signs all over the waterfront in Nantes pointing to the Les Machines de l'Ile on the Ile de Nantes. I rode around the outside of the island, and saw some of the largest cranes, apparently left over from Nantes ship-building days. Noe of the huge, exotic animals advertised were visible, but, after all, it was early Sunday morning.

The rest of the ride to my hotel by the airport was quite easy, and small townish, and I arrived just before noon. I spent a lazy afternoon reading and writing.

13  Nantes to Montreal, Mon. June 14

It a beautiful, clear sunny morning, and I was able to follow a flight crew from the hotel to the airport terminal on a Pietons walkway, a very easy, and non-confusing way to get there. I packed my bicycle and trailer, and waited a couple of hours for Air Transat to set up there check in area.

The flight home was appropriately uneventful and pleasant, with a free glass of wine with dinner. Kiyoko met me at the airport, and I was definitely home.

14  Maps

This is the link to the Google Earth Map of the trip.

File translated from TEX by TTH, version 3.02.
On 16 Nov 2010, 06:32.