Châteaudun

After Fougeres we were trying to decide where to visit next, I typed in Chateaudun which my Mac auto corrected to “chase the sun” so that was an omen and the decision made for us.

Friday 21st July

Arriving at Chateaudun and we soon found the municipal campsite next to the river Loir, ( N48.08070, E1.33214) a well laid out friendly site that welcomed cycle tourists, for the motorhome the cost was a very reasonable €13 per night including electricity and Wi-fi.

After a late lunch we took the bikes for a short ride around the immediate area, another large imposing Chateau overlooking the town and a very old Church of St Jean that had an even older gateway, The bell tower looked like it should have an impressive spire but was topped by a very out of character pitched roof but we were liking what we had seen so decided to stay for a couple of days and I plotted a course for a Saturday ride to the west and north of the town to take in the surrounding villages.

Saturday 22nd July

The day was a mix of sun and cloud and 20c was a pleasant temperature to cycle in despite a strong and gusty wind. From Chateaudun we followed the D927 to Courtalain on mainly straight but undulating roads that were lined on both sides by fields of maize or stubble. By the side of the road in one fallow field there was a strange wooden and wire mesh structure that looked like it had been built by Mr Heath-Robinson, we later found out it was an old store to dry maize cobs.

Approaching the outskirts of Courtalain and another decorated water tower which forced me into a slight detour for the obligatory photograph, I was also rewarded with my first ever sighting of a beautiful red squirrel which ran across the road in front of my wheels.
Courtalain has an impressive 15th century Chateau that when originally built set in  500 acres of English style gardens, and yet another Church of St Jean, this time with an impressive tower that was an addition in 19th century. It must be my advancing years but I seem to take much more of an interest in churches but before you get worried it is through a constructional eye, the labour involved and craftsmanship with only hand tools is outstanding.

From Courtalain the next town was Arrou another old town with magnificent buildings and Saturday market stall that gave it a very busy appearance.

Coffee at Chatillon-en-Dunois

Chatillion-en-Dunois was our morning stop where we found a traditional French cafe with very good coffee, the owner was sitting outside reading his newspaper when we arrived while his wife was sweeping, make that dusting the pavement and road outside their premises. I walked across the road to look at the church, the cafe owner said he could arrange for it to be opened if we wished to look around and while I declined the offer the welcoming gesture was very much appreciated.

From here we crossed the busy D955 and from this point all the way back to Chateaudun was cut corn fields as far as the eye could see. At St Christophe we passed another very large walled country estate before the final run into town through Donneman-Saint-Manes.

Not the longest of rides, 38 miles and 1280ft of climbing but with some stunning countryside and buildings we decided to strike out again on Sunday to the south of the town.

Sunday 23rd July

A sunny start with a very strong and gusty south-westerly wind and barely into town when we met with a road closure, our route barred by a motoring time trial around Chateaudun. A steep uphill diversion is never a good start to a ride and add in a strong headwind I could feel Kaye thinking I’d planned this on purpose.

Saint-Hilaire-sur-Yerre

Back on track through Douy and a very picturesque Saint-Hilaire-Sur-Yere on the river and a very old mill house. The open countryside is a joy to ride with hardly a car or any other signs of life on a Sunday morning. We turned onto the D24 for a very long but gradual uphill climb into the wind and not made any easier with a road dressing of fresh chippings.

L’Estrevide was our furthest South Westerly point of the ride and where turned East to reap the rewards of a two mile downhill run with a following wind, the joy of cycling…..

The biggest haystack…

Heading through Brevainville, Ouzouer-le-Doyen, Mailonville, Meziers, all sleepy French villages on a Sunday morning the only activity were farmers baling straw in the fields and the large water sprinklers drenching the vast acreage of maize. Just after Verdes we stopped to watch a forklift stacking square straw bales in a stack that must have been 12m high, certainly the largest I have ever seen.

On through Chardonelle, Lezonville and Le Met and yet another decorated water tower.

At Frouville-Pensier a very old windmill caught my attention and forced a detour to investigate. The site was home to a post mill dating back to 1274 and was replaced with the present structure in 1822 and is still a working mill today.

The D31 was from this point our direct route back to Chateadun, the wind had veered slightly making for a testing few miles and just before the town we passed a French Air Force base that was home to the biggest military aircraft scrapyard I have seen. An old sign on the fence said “no photographs” but i’m not thinking there were any state secrets amongst the piston engined scrap.

The biggest aircraft scrapyard…

Returning through centre-ville there were more street closures to navigate and we pulled over to watch a procession of old cars, Citroen, Peugoet, Renault, Simca, MG, Talbot, Triumph and Minis. After returning to the motorhome with the bikes taking a shower and lunch we returned to the town to watch the festivities, a very enthusiastic crowd watched as cars and motorbikes screamed around corners and spectators scrutinised  the vehicles in the pits.

Street racing in Chateaudun

The Chateau certainly takes pride of place in this town, its most famous resident was John of Dunois who was a faithful companion to Joan Of Arc but we were just to Chateaued out to pay the entrance fee and look around inside, maybe next time. An ever quickening step got us back to the van before the rain started and just in time a cycle tourist got her tent pitched before the heavens opened and rain stopped play for the day.

Cycling stats: 41 miles, 1325ft climbing.

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