top of page

Day 8: From Tours to Loudun through the Loire Valley, 90 km

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

We didn't get up too early because the previous day left some traces for me after cycling 150 km, and we wanted to rest a bit longer. At 9 o'clock, after a simple breakfast, we left towards Cathédrale Saint Gaetien. The cathedral is open, and the Mass is only scheduled for 10:30 a.m.

Tours, cathedral Saint-Gatien: Front, choir and wet portal

Architecturally, Saint-Gatien is not recognized as one of France's major Gothic cathedrals. It was built between the 12th and 16th centuries on the site of a former Romanesque church. As a result, you can find elements of both Gothic and Renaissance styles in it. The west facade is particularly flamboyant and Renaissance in style. The cathedral houses an exceptional collection of 13th-century stained glass windows, with the most beautiful ones found in the chapels of the ambulatory and the high windows of the choir. The rose windows from the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries are also magnificent. Over time, stained glass windows from destroyed churches were also incorporated into the cathedral, making it somewhat of a stained glass window museum.

Inside the cathedral, you can see the tomb of two of the children of Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany, who died at a young age. This tomb, made of Carrara marble, is in pure Renaissance style. Charles VIII died first, and Anne remarried Louis XII after divorcing his real wife, Jeanne de Valois. Anne founded the order of the Annuntiades (sometimes spelled with two t's), from which the sisters of the Sacred Heart in Heverlee are descendants.

Tours, kathedraal: glasramen en graftombe van twee kinderen van Karel VIII en Anna van Bretagne

During this visit, Floky stayed outside for a while as a journalist from HLN called for some more information.

Originally, my plan was to cycle from Tours to Candes St Martin along the Loire. I wanted to see the beautiful Collégaiele St Martin and show it to Floky. However, we didn't go there because, after my fall yesterday, I am trying to cycle fewer kilometres. The bike slip didn't leave any marks on the bike, but I got some abrasions on my hand, knee, and right elbow. The Collegiate Church from the 12th and 13th centuries was fortified in the 15th century and restored several times until the 21st century. I wanted to visit it because it is a true pilgrimage church, and many pilgrims made the detour from the Via Turonensis to Candes St Martin to worship and invoke Saint Martin here. The collegiate church is strongly inspired by the Gothic style of the West, but the richness of the decoration - nave and north portals, the fortified arrangements added to it - make it a unique building whose sequence of construction phases and interpretation of the decoration are still discussed. You can find more information about it on the internet.

Floky cycling along the Loire river, the church of Saint Gervais and Saint Protais of Savinières

Nevertheless, it was clear that the main intention was to show Floky the majestic Loire, the longest river in France. The river is over 1000 km long and originates in the Massif Central. It flows into the Atlantic Ocean near Nantes. We cycle from Tours along the route and Voie verte / La Loire à Vélo. It's a unique experience that many families with children do by bike and with trailers. You can simply rent them. You can practically follow the entire Loire by bike, mostly on high embankments that protect the land behind them from flooding. The Loire is known as a treacherous river. Le Loir is a tributary of La Loire, and we've seen it before. We cycle 30 km along the Loire, passing by the 12th-century church of Saint Gervais and Saint Protais in Savinières. It's a good example of Cistercian architecture, but also, and above all, an example of the Saintonge architecture that we will find later in Saintes, with its richly decorated arches above the entrance doors. The church is closed, so we visit a bakery to buy our lunch. Nowadays, most bakers make "des ficelles" (small baguettes) filled with cheese, lardons, and other delicacies, as well as long pizza bread: Floky loves them.

Lunch along the Loire, castle of Rigny-Ussé, vinyards

After lunch along the Loire river, we head inland straight to the Château de Rigny-Ussé (the Sleeping Beauty's castle). From there, we reach the Château de Chinon. This was one of the favorite strongholds of the Plantagenets. King John lost it to Philip Augustus, who added it to the Crown domains of France. It was the seat of the court under Charles VII and the place of his meeting with Joan of Arc, the French heroine in the fight against the English. Chinon became rich with wine and wine trade. Not far away, in the Fontevraud Abbey, lie Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, her son Richard the Lionheart, and other important family members. This is a part of France that belonged to the English crown for a long time. Near Chinon, there is also the Avoine nuclear power plant. In the last hours, we've seen many vineyards of Vouvray, Chinon, and other delicious Loire wines.

Loudun, the bakery, Floris having breakfast in bed

A final series of hills leads us directly to Loudun, a small town on the way to Poitiers, where we will see beautiful architecture tomorrow. We are staying in a small apartment there, but as usual, we have to share a kitchen and a toilet. However, we have a separate shower and sink in the room. For 40 euros for two people, we can't expect more. Right across the apartment, there is a bakery, and I will go there now to buy petits pains for our breakfast. The bakery is open on Sundays, and they have homemade ice cream: a 599-gram jar that Floris enjoys all by himself.

Every evening, Floky makes his video with our GOPRO camera on his chest, capturing his perspective of our pilgrimage. I fall asleep immediately, and he charges all the devices for the next day. It's great that we can do this together, even though we sometimes clash. Rientje certainly enjoys being with us, sometimes on his brother's shoulder, sometimes on mine.

17 views0 comments


bottom of page