The day started overcast and very misty with a temperature of 5c that required a thicker long sleeve jersey to start. The roads out of Vitre were very good and I was soon rolling along through lanes and countryside that were a mix of arable and livestock. Lots of silage was being cut as well as local authority verge trimming, a job they do exceedingly well in France. The other noticeable absentee from the route was litter, they do seem to have a great civic pride in keeping the countryside clean.
We had now established a riding pattern that worked, namely 30-35 miles to coffee, lunch at 60-65 miles and then finishing the remainder of the days mileage. Todays ride passed through Erbree, Mondevert and then La Petrie and another very imposing church, this got me thinking about the power the Church held over the community and the very impressive craftmanship that must have gone into building these structures over a long period with very primitive tools by todays standards. It was also noticeable on the long straight roads that the church spire was always visible for miles at the end of the road.
Craon was our next town with some very grand houses whose wealth was derived from the sale of salt and on to our morning coffee on the approach to Chatelais in the car park of the local football club by which time the temperature had risen so a short sleeve jersey was called for.
The next section of road to Chalonnes-Sur-Loire was pretty much dead straight with the obligatory church at the end, not flat but undulating so what you made on the descent you paid for on the ascent.
Lunch was on the banks of the Loire and we were treated to a drive by of vintage Rolls Royce cars on tour and all looking very regal. Lunch over and climbing out of Charlonnes-Sur-Loire it was pretty obvious what the region is famous for as grape vines filled every field, I also stopped a while at the monument to the first flight in 1908 by French aviator Rene Gasnier. A little further along the road is another impressive chapel commissioned by the widow of the local director of mines in 1858, more signs of a wealthy past.
From here pretty much the rest of the ride followed the river through small hamlets and was a favoured route for groups of cyclists on afternoon guided tours. I also came across a row of riverside cottages that were being painted with artwork depicting wisteria and other climbing plants so they had colour all year round.
The last town on this stage was Brissac-Quince and its magnificent chateau that stood like a beacon, visible on the approach. After a brief stop to look around the cobbled streets the camp site was a couple of kilometres further on.
Campsite was Camping de l’Etang, we chose the motor home Aire €8 per night with electric, water and service point or there was an Aire nearer to the town centre for €4 per night with no facilities.
Stats for the day: 91 miles 3688ft of climbing