It’s 11pm local time and I’m writing this post from the Manoir de Ponsay, just outside Chantonnay, 91 miles from our starting point in Heric this morning. We didn’t make the full 100 today, leaving us with a deficit of 13 miles to make up, just as we had yesterday morning.
There are a number of reasons for this, not least eating and drinking too much, and too late into the evening, yesterday.
Despite a 7:45am alarm, we didn’t leave Heric until 9:45am on a cold, foggy morning. However, it wasn’t long until the mist cleared and we were treated to a warm, sunny day, albeit with a headwind for most of the day.
Both Google and Michelin apps failed miserably by leading us along muddy grass tracks that were supposed to be roads, and into dead-end roads that delayed us at least five times during the day.
A lovely 3-mile ride alongside the Loire took us to the next available crossing.
The terrain was a mixture of miles of flatlands interspersed with some long but not very demanding climbs and descents. Towards late afternoon the roads we were directed along became busier and we sought some quieter lanes for our journey.
Having consulted Google once again, it appeared that Bazoges-en-Pareds would be a good place to find a bed for the night, although it would mean our day was cut short at around 84 miles. The village seemed to boast two hotels and an auberge but when we got there we found everything was closed until Easter, when the season begins. By now, it was 8pm and sunset threatened, in an attractive kind of way.
A check with booking.com again come to the rescue and the Manoir de Ponsay was revealed, albeit a little over six miles away.
The owners, a couple, were not expecting us when we arrived and the 8-room hotel. They were only expecting one other guest, who’s car had broken down, so she was going to be late.
They could not have made us more welcome, showing us where to park our bikes, inviting us for a pre-dinner drink and then serving up a simple but very good meal of salmon, rice and peas followed by a selection of French cheeses. This was all topped-off with a desert made on the premises using a recipe created by the owner’s grandmother.
Laurence, our host, told us a little about the history of the manoir. Built around 1440, it has been in his family since 1646. His father started running it as a small hotel in the 1980s but Laurence and his wife now live on the premises while struggling to make ends meet and keep the place afloat financially. The cost of repairs and high rates of taxation threaten Laurence’s ability to keep the magnificent building in family hands much longer – what a responsibility.
As I mentioned earlier, after today, we’re back to being 13 miles behind our daily target but tomorrow’s another day and we’ve promised ourselves an early start – bums and knees permitting!