On our way south to Albi we decided on a stopover in the Loire Valley. We did not know what to expect but booked an overnight night stay at Mike and Cath’s campsite, Le Cormier at Obterre ( http://www.loireholidays.biz ) they were so helpful and enthusiastic about the area we decided to extend our stay to another day and explore the area by bike.
From our campsite we rode into Obterre, the first thing that grabbed our attention was the box hedging in the garden of The Mairie spelling out the town name. This reflected a well-kept village, very tidy and the buildings in good repair. We were struck by how clean it was with no litter to be seen. We headed East out of the village on the D63 towards Clere-du-Bois, the harvest had just been gathered and stubble fields were still sporting round bales of straw waiting to be transported to the farmyard. Every now and them a field of sunflowers stood all looking towards the sun with a happy face.
On entering the village the houses seemed secondary to the gardens, all had beautiful displays of summer flowers, vegetable patches, perfectly symmetrical log stacks and pristine lawns, I am sure there must be great competition among these amateur gardeners for the best plot in the Village.
From Clere-du-Bois the D21 rolls towards Murs and we could immediately see a large rocket like structure that as we got close revealed itself as a shiny silver grain silo and drier, this was surrounded by a large concrete bund wall and what we thought from a distance was sand turned out to be grain, thousands of tons sitting in the open air, no wonder the pigeons are big round here.
We crossed the D975 and were stopped in our tracks as a large rodent crossed the road in front of us ,it looked like a cross between a beaver and a large rat and turned out to be a Ragondin, a type of Coypu that damages ditch and river banks by burrowing and is considered a pest and is actively hunted.
Murs was another small village with well kept houses and interesting architecture and we then followed the lanes to Villiers and Paulay where we stopped for coffee. The area has an abundance of old Chatteaus and roads that are like billiard tables, not a pot hole to be seen and an absolute joy to cycle, unlike the lanes of Hampshire.
From Paulnay we took the D925 to Azay-le-Ferron and could not help but notice the civic pride that also extends to the countryside, grass verges are trimmed and cut down completely if they restrict vision at a road bend and hedges and verges trimmed 10 metres back from road signs for unimpaired viewing.
At Azzay-le-Ferron stands a formidable chateau that gives its name to the town, it dates to the 15th century and is well worth a visit http://www.chateau-azay-le-ferron.com
Continuing on the road back to Obterre the open countryside changes to woodland as we cycle through the Foret de Preuilly an animal reserve and managed woodland. All along the road edge are raised platforms but not as we thought for observation but to accommodate shooting parties that bring to the forest another revenue stream. The woodsmen were also busy cutting trees into metre long staffs and splitting them before mechanically banding them to await collection.
On the road back we came across a “Road Inspection” van whose job was just that and we were impressed as he pulled up in front of us, jumped out to retrieve a pice of litter from the grass verge, are you listening England.
We eventually rolled back into Obterre where everything is now quiet, no traffic, and all observing the siesta. The final climb to the campsite at 5% is the steepest climb of the day. The longest time I have ever taken to ride 25 miles reflects the amount of sightseeing and interest in the area. It is now lunchtime and as they say “When in France”………………my siesta awaits.