Monday so laundry day for Hamilton here at City Park, the washing was quickly taken care off – as I wrote this I was thinking of a notice I saw in a Pakistani shop window in Bradford in the 1960s it read,
“All customers will be quickly executed”
My ride today was under clear blue skies, and strong autumn sunlight, a truly beautiful autumnal morning. With the sun now lower towards the horizon, travelling along the cycle track in dappled sunlight, I found care was required, as joggers and cyclists could easily be lost from sight as you passed between light and shade.
The scabs on my healing war wounds, sustained in last week’s crash, were itching like mad, oh, how I wanted to claw at them. Thankfully the wise words of Spike Milligan came to my rescue,
“You have to pick when the picking is good, for if you don’t pick right things will never get better.”
Just less than a 20 miles riding today, and a little short of our journey from Chalonnes-Sur-Loire to Brissac-Quince, 22 miles. This is again a great cycling country, on well surfaced roads almost devoid of traffic. They will sweep you past the many vineyards on to the small town of Denee, to meet up once more with the River Loire. Crossing the bridge you will be unaware you are now riding on an island in the middle of the river, crossing back over to the rivers south bank at Murs Erigne. Take your time, for there is so much to see, and untold myths and legends to be heard.
We hear so much about how Joanne of Arc, rode at the head of her army, inspiring and leading them to victory. Here we come across another female soldier. Renee Bordere nicknamed ‘Lady Angevin’. She was a Frenchwoman born in Soulaines-sur-Aubance in 1777. She dressed herself in men’s clothing and fought in the Royalist Cavalry during the Vendee wars. She was a skilled tactician and at the forefront of her little force pushed six hundred republican soldiers into the River Louet from Roche-de-Murs. I picked up a book (in English), of her exploits when I was travelling in this area, and may well be still in print today, a good read.
Brissac Quince needs time to explore, and dominating is the Chateau De Brissac. Sitting high on a hill, it commands your attention as you approach the city. Not only is it the most impressive chateau you are likely to see, it claims to be the tallest of the castles along the Loire Valley. Built over the remains of an old fortress, what we see today developed over the centuries from a modest chateau started by Charles de Cosse, governor of Paris and marshal of France, into this spectacular chateau. The front elevation features a 17th –century domed pavilion. It is guarded, sentry like, by two 15-century towers. Today fifteen of the rooms are open to the public, these include the bedroom of Louis X111 and the opera theatre built in 1883. (The theatre still hosts concerts to this day). The gardens are extensive as are the wine cellars.
Mary Queen of Scots slept here.
As you can imagine the chateau is a big attraction for tourists, and the French were not slow to take advantage. Several restaurants around the city have been situated to take full advantage of the views, their terraces offering panoramic sights of castle and the beautiful Loire River. The city of Brissac Quince had in the past hosted the ‘Le Champoionnat de France de Montgolfiers’, (Championships of France for hot-air-balloonists) the championships are named after the brothers who invented the first hot-air-balloon.
I believe I have seen balloons climbing into the air over the chateau in an advert shown on television. Strangely enough I always remember the advert but not what it is trying to sell me.
You will no doubt wish to visit the office de tourisme where like me you will gather all this information on the numerous free pamphlets that are the lifeblood of the cycle tourist. It is from here you will have one of the best views of the magnificent towers and facades and the chateau’s extensive gardens.
I camped for two days here near the little village of Le Port, and swam in the Loire daily; the waters were warm, shallow and refreshing; on those long hot summer days.