After a couple of nights in a lovely big bed, it was back on the bike and back into the tent. I dug the bike out the storeroom it had been hiding in, loaded up and we were off. First stop, a small supermarket near the hotel, so we could stock up on food for lunch and some emergency rations. We always had hard-boiled eggs, buying a half dozen at a time and boiling them on the burner. They would keep for a day or two. Sometimes I would buy a baguette but they went hard pretty quick in the heat. Fresh fruit was always on my list – a couple of apples, nectarines or peaches. We had a couple of tins of tuna, some artichoke hearts and tinned asparagus as reserves.
Beaugency is less than 30km from Orléans and the cycle paths alongside the river are easy to follow. The first part was along dirt tracks but they were bone dry and hard-packed, so we kept up a good speed. Later we switched side on the river and soon after hit tarmac.
We stopped overnight at Jargeau and once again had problems finding somewhere to eat that served anything other than carbs. It was a small town and we cycled up and down a few times, eventually settling for ‘The Cheval Blanc’ Hotel. After we stopped in a bar run by a very old fellow. There was just him and a couple of regulars, and a dog. We all got on swimmingly, even though I doubt anyone really understood what anyone else was saying. The wine was ridiculously cheap, which made for an even better time.
For much of the time we could follow the riverside tracks, though sometimes they were a little too rough and we resorted to nearby roads. The river meanders quite a lot too, and in places we cut across the neck of a meander to reduce distances. We took lunch at Sully sur Loire, opposite a very grand chateau.
After a night at Charité Sur loire, we stayed by the river until Nevers, where we cut across a meander and into the town for lunch. Then we crossed the river and followed the Canal Latéral which ran along the south side of the Loire. There wasn’t always a towpath to follow, so we used nearby lanes and roads, but the route was generally pretty well marked. The only thing we had to watch out for were the ‘scenic’ detours that would climb away from the river and up to a village just for the view. We tended to avoid these most of the time as it could be a stiff climb.
Our next campsite after Decize was planned to be at Diou, by the river, but when we turned up we were not impressed with the facilities (almost non-existent) or the quality of the pitches – stoney and no shade, so we headed ‘inland’ for Dompierre Sur Besbre and the Municipal campsite there. It was a good move, apart from the hill we had to go over to get to it.