Sunday, 16 July 2006
Distance 19 km
Duration 3 hours 50 minutes
Ascent 64 m, descent 72 m
Map 26 of the TOP 100 blue series (now superseded)
We had our breakfast at a picnic table looking onto the twenty-six arches of the bridge, and left at 6:45, with no sign of life from either Serge’s tent or the office, so it was another free night.
We crossed to the town to rejoin the GR3, but soon left it in favour of the small road to Tavers, as we had hopes of coffee there.
There was no such thing, but we got bread and croissants at the bakery, which was doing the usual frantic Sunday morning trade. Hoping to see the dolmen (prehistoric burial site) that was marked on the map near Ver, we continued along the road, but saw nothing.
As we came to the river we took a cycle path along the levée bank, which was very pleasant apart from being rather too exposed to the sun.
The nuclear power station of Saint-Laurent-des-Eaux was on an island in the Loire and we had a brief period of shade from the clouds of steam pouring out of the stacks.
There was a fishing competition taking place on our side of the river and one of the fishermen said that he thought there was no bar at the nearby village of Avaray, so we had a coffee-free break on the path, with pastries and cold water.
Pressing on as the day warmed up, we we pleased when we saw the big town of Mer over on our right, and realised that we were approaching the bridge to Muides-sur-Loire.
It was long, like all the Loire bridges, but easy to cross, with pedestrian lanes in both directions.
On the far side there was a humble looking camping ground, not the four-star place we had expected from the brochures (that was a further kilometre away, at some château), just the municipal one.
It was well populated and looked perfectly adequate, but before installing ourselves we marched on up to the highway and found an open bar for our first taste of coffee for the day. We also found out that we could eat there in the evening so all was well.
A fleet of amateur cyclists called in for Cokes, finishing with cigarettes as they were French. France seems not to have heard the message about smoking that the rest of the world has.
Back at the riverbank, we paid our €7.50 and set ourselves up on the dry grass between two spreading trees. The showers were spacious and excellent and after lunch we lay on our bedrolls trying to keep cool by repeatedly wetting our shirts.
The people in the neighbouring tent set off in their swimsuits towards the river but came back dry soon afterwards. They said they were worried about the nuclear power station just upstream. He was a Dutchman with grey curls and she, much darker and younger, was Peruvian. Both were architects.
They invited us for a glass of wine, which developed into a full meal of pasta, salad and coffee, to which we contributed bread, cheeses and lettuce.
She ran a housing project in the slums of Lima, and he spent his holidays there doing unpaid work. Both spoke good English but they normally communicated in Spanish.