I've finally got off my butt and find a better website content management system. Writefreely is still quite new, and not quite ready for prime time, but it sounds like it is going to be used by the Linux kernel Devs, so it should have reasonable development and support from the community in the coming years.
My last night in France was in Angers. We didn't have a heap of time in the town, but managed to see the chateau and church in the city. We walked the city in the afternoon, it has a lot of old building from the 1500's and 1600's.
The next day Jules and walked along the river and through the town before going to the rain station for Jules and the rest of our group headed to Ancenis. I had a few hours to wait before my train to Paris and back to Hobart.
Day three took us back to Azay-Le-Rideau from Chinon through more farm lands ... and a random miltary training area.
We started pretty early, skipping looking through the castle in Chinon, as we had a 34km ride ahead of us. We stockedd up on lunch suppies at the Chinon Carrefour (supermarket chain) and got started. Lunch on most days on our tours was baguettes (which are awesome) in a park.
The last day was fairly long, but it was flat most of the way. We passed through some more farmland, interspersed with a field full of solar panels and a military training area (complete with tanks).
We got back to Azay-le-rideau to find a festival happening. There was a lot of food and pepole dressed in clothing from chateau period. Later there was a dance in the town square with a dancemaster to show everyone the steps. Jules some of our friends joined in with the dancing until the end!
Day 2 of the bike tour was a lot shorter, 14km. We started by looking through the Chateau d'Usse.
The castle is apparently the one that inspired the Sleeping Beauty story. It's a pretty huge castle, and like a lot of them was added to at various stages of its life. It took a few hours to get around the whole thing.
We got started on the 14km bike ride after the walk through the castle. It was another great day weather wise, and we crusied into a small village and got some lunch supplies.
After lunch we made the rest of the ride to Chinon through vineyards and farm lands. Chinon is a bigger town in the Loire Valley. Our hotel was the Hotel de France in the middle of town, we arrived in the late afternoon. We sampled some wines in the local square and wandered the town.
The first day of the bike tour was a slow start, we went and picked up our bike and made a start into the ride. Some of us hadn't been on bike for years, so it was a good time to get used to being on a bike seat again.
The start of the ride was straight into a hill, which we stopped at the top of and tried to figure out where we were going. The tour company (Inntravel) took our bags from hotel to hotel for us and provided the notes on where to go each day.
The ride took us through some back country roads past vineyards and old houses before we got to Villandry for lunch. Villandry was a smallish town with a big Chateau on the hill, but the line was really long to get in and we were already pressed for time. We went instead to Savonnieres and looked at the old boats in the river.
After that we went to Rigney-Usse in time to see the Chateau d'Usse with the sun setting on it. This is the castle that inspired the sleeping beauty castle (apparently) ... it was very impressive. By this stage we were all pretty buggered from having ridden 45km that day. We went and checked in to the Hotel and collapsed in the garden. The only outing that night was a brief walk down the road to see the chateau at lit up at night.
We left Switzerland on the 3rd and went into France, via Paris and Tours. It was a long day of catching trains and not much else happening, so not many photos. It was noticeably warmer in France, as we'd come out of the mountains.
We spent 2 nights in Azal-le-rideau, preparing for the bike tour of the Loire Valley. The first night was pretty quiet in a small old hotel. The second day we went to the Azay-le-rideau chateau which was being renovated, but was still very impressive, the grounds around it were awesome, before meeting up with our friends who were coming on the bike tour.
Our last day in Swizerland was in Basel. We took the train from Interlaken in the morning and dropped our bags at the Hotel (Hotel Euler) and went looking around town. Our first stop was at a cafe in the park, where we spent the last of our swiss franks(*). We were 10 rappen short, but we told the lady at the cafe how we were leaving Switzerland that day and were getting rid of our money and she was very nice and let us off.
We went and saw some of the Basel landmarks, including the townhall, the water fountain, botanical garden the old archway that was part of the original wall.
We got back to the hotel after 6pm and had showers and wine in the hotel bar before dinner and bed. There were lots of great buildings and features in basel that we didn't get to see, you could easily spend a few days checking them out, as well as the museums and galleries.
(*) – We ended up needing more for lunch and other knick knacks