The Loire – Lorris to Montargis and Fontainebleau

Today was a short cycling day.  Set off from Lorris and got to Montargis by noon. Managed to lose the cycle path, or rather it petered out and turned into knee-high grass.  This was too difficult to trek through, so arrived in Montargis via an unscenic and very busy main road.  The town is very pretty in the centre though.  

Checked into the Ibis and decided to go and spend the afternoon in  Fontainebleau, taking the bikes on the train. 

I used to live in Fontainebleau when I worked at INSEAD.  It’s a pretty French town with a wonderful chateau with massive grounds – great for cycling round.   

The chateau (not where I lived):This is where I lived – 17 rue Grande, literally 100m from the chateau:

My room (a mattress on the floor of  the sitting room) was the small window in the roof – a garret is the correct term.  On the night of the INSEAD ball, my flatmate slid down 4 flights of bannisters in a ballgown because the entire stairwell had just been varnished so we couldn’t get out.  I lowered her handbag down to her on a piece of stringThose were the days.   

At the back of the chateau is a large pond where I’d come on a Sunday afternoon if I was bored witless and had nothing else to do and no money – a fairly common occurrence. 
The entertainment was provided by enormous carp which fought to eat bits of baguette you chucked in the water.  Simple pleasures. 
The photo is also the exact spot of my 1989 worst-ever hangover due to (i)  not eating all day – the well-known ‘not eating all day’ diet and (ii) spending the evening drinking Champagne Napoléons (champagne and mandarin liqueur).  Quite a lot of them. 
Oh dear. Not recommended as a way to lose weight.  
Also in the chateau grounds is the site of my first ever attempt at jogging:   
I must have been nuts.  We cycled round it – I hadn’t realised it was so huge; no wonder I struggled (and gave up). 
Went and shared an ice cream in a cafe then back to Montargis on the train. 
It was great to go back and see Fontainebleau again.  I’ve been back a couple of times since I left but this was the best visit yet because we were on the bikes.  In the past, we had the car which was no fun at all – it’s very busy and crowded – and of course it’s hard to park.  This way we got to zoom around the town, INSEAD, the chateau and the grounds.
An absolutely brilliant day – one of the best yet 🙂  :).

The Loire – Orléans to Lorris

Cycling along the Canal d’Orléans for the next 5 days.  We were going to do part of the Loire à Velo cyclepath but a lot of it seemed to be on main roads – the canal is all on cyclepath and takes you through lovely countryside along an unused canal.

Orléans is a bit of a strange place – there was some bombing damage in WW2 so it’s a mish mash architecturally, going from ugly post war blocks of flats to beautifully restored old buildings – but it’s also got a strange atmosphere. Or maybe a lack of atmosphere.  After St Chapelle in Paris, the church was nothing special – but then not much would be :). 

We hired bikes – I got a sit-up-and-beg type of thing without any suspension.  I was a bit concerned but Neil said it would be fine.  Neil has a proper hybrid (with suspension).  This wasn’t important on Day 1 but would be by Day 5. 

La Loire Nucleaire

Cycled 50km along the Loire and then the canal to a little place called Lorris.   All day we bowled along either by water or through the deserted countryside – beautiful. Lunch was a tarte aux lardons and a patisserie, by a canal lock in the middle of nowhere.  

In Lorris, we stayed at the Auberge au Sauvage, the only hotel in town.  Dinner was a steak with a foie gras sauce and a St Nicholas de Bourgeuil.

Conked out immediately my head hit the pillow to be woken at 5am by the local council out watering the village flowers in the dark, followed by beer lorry deliveries, followed by garbage collection.  It was charming, sort of :):)