When I got out of my tent this morning the sun was shinning, the birds were singing and the Loire river was quietly flowing to the Atlantic couple of meters in front of me. I felt blessed, could not have asked for a better day to end EuroVelo 6 this year.
My final destination is very close, right on the next village, so I am not in a hurry today. This place is called Meung sur Loire, a charming village in the Loiret department in north-central France. It will always have a special meaning for me because here I completed EuroVelo 6, my first EuroVelo route which I started back in 2009, continued in 2012, 2015 and ended it here, in Meung sur Loire on 6 July 2016.
Since I arrived so early we finally have time to visit a castle. So I present you Château de Meung-sur-Loire.
The château, located next to the collegial church, was the country residence of the Bishops of Orleans. It was built and destroyed several times. The oldest still existing parts date from the 12th century. It was occupied by the English during the Hundred Years War and it was taken from the English by Joan of Arc on 14 June 1429. Beneath the castle are dungeons, a chapel and various medieval torture instruments, more info on Wikipedia.
|And of course all respectable castles need to have a torture chamber.|
After torture one would need to go to the church next door to cleanse the spirit and start fresh. Glad we moved forward from those dark medieval times. Adventurers like myself would have been good candidates for the dungeon back in those days.
It may sound confusing when I tell you that I finished EuroVelo 6 in Meung sur Loire, in the middle of France, when you already know that EuroVelo 6 also called "the rivers route" connects the Black Sea with the Atlantic. Normally I should have ended it in Saint Nazaire where the Loire flows into the Atlantic since I started it on the other side of the continent in Tulcea, Romania back in 2009. But my story is a bit different. I've been to France with my wife for two years in 2011-2012 and this part of EuroVelo 6 route between Meung sur Loire and Saint Nazaire, I've completed it in 2012 in different stages when I actually lived on the Loire Valley for 8 months in the city of Tours. The EuroVelo 6 saga will continue with the 2012 stage on a different bike, different season but still the same main character, following in the next post, so please stay tuned after the break.
I remember being here in the same spot 4 years before, in the autumn of 2012.
So EV6 is now complete, time to celebrate the moment with a delicious piece of french raspberry pie in the local park, in the shade under a tree. As I was sitting there enjoying the pie and the view, thinking how all those 4450 km of EV6 eventually came together after 7 years, I realised that I discovered something beautiful, something that is worth sharing with the world. Later that summer I also discovered this new blockchain blogging platform called Steemit and soon afterwards Discover EuroVelo was born. The truth is that writing is not one of my strengths nor I have a native talent as you can tell, but cycling on EuroVelo felt so good and meaningful to me that somehow it pushed me to overcome my limited writing skills to get the message out there to you, while slowly becoming an area of personal growth for me.
As I was saying in the previous post, today is our last day on the road, I have a plane to catch back to Romania tomorrow so here is the plan: we go back to Orleans following the main route on the left side of the river, then we find the train station and buy tickets for the first train to Paris. Will enjoy the evening in Paris. Sound's like a good plan? Let's go!
Most of the train stations reach the city centre, so I expect to find it there.
Spent an hour or so in the Place du Martroi in Orleans enjoying a cold beer and the view of Jeanne d'Arc statue and the surrounding classic buildings architecture while waiting for my train to Paris.
Arrived in Paris at Gare d'Austerlitz after an hour train ride later that afternoon. My initial plan was to pack and send the bike back home by bus with a Romanian touring company who has an agency nearby, then go to the hotel and have a shower so I can enjoy the evening wondering around the streets of Paris. Luckily the plan rolled out perfectly, I arrived to the bus agency on bike 30 min before closing but just in time to finish packing it and filling in all the forms before closure.
These days I prefer to rent a bike locally when I go on a short one week tour like this especially in western EU countries. It is more convenient and straight forward and cheaper than using my own bike and dealing with all the associated logistical complications.
With bike and panniers now gone, felt much lighter afterwards but very sweaty and smelly and that's not good in a crowded capital, especially in Paris the city of Dior, so I went for a quick shower at the hotel I booked while on the train coming here. I personally use Booking.com but there are so many easy options for finding accommodation these days compared to 2009 when I started bike touring internationally with only a paper map and a Nokia in my pocket.
From my budget hotel located not so central but close to a metro station, I took the metro to Louvre Museum that evening. When I got out of the station I followed Passage Richelieu into the Louvre Pyramid courtyard and passed by this glass window into the actual museum, which is so cool isn't it? Look at those amazing statues...if you haven't been to Louvre yet you should definitely add it to your bucket list and make sure to take your time cause it's huge and full of extraordinary art that you need to see in this life.
Felt nostalgic being again in Paris especially on a beautiful summer evening like this. Don't know if I ever told you but I actually lived and studied for a master here back in 2011-2012 and also proposed to my wife right here in this park 10 yrs ago. I think Paris will always have a special place in my heart.
With statues like this in a public garden I'm not surprised Paris is called the city of love.
Continued walking on Seine right dock until the sun went down over the Eiffel Tower ending one of the most beautiful days I have ever had on EuroVelo 6 and beyond.
Our adventure on EuroVelo 6 is finished, hope I inspired you to go out there on your bike and have some fun in the sun this summer. Have a look on the official Loire by Bike site where you'll find all the info you need to organise your next cycling holiday in France on the Loire Valley. They have all kinds of great suggestions for you based on your available time (a week, a week-end or day trips) or preferences (gastronomic cycling, bike/kayak combos, chateaux tours, etc) and situation (experienced/first-timer, family cycling, coming by car/train, etc). Overall great site if you want to explore the Loire Valley by bike.
Lastly, here is the map with our progress on EuroVelo 6 for today:
Until next time,
All photos were taken with my iPhone 6S.
EuroVelo, the European Cycle Route Network are registered marks of ECF asbl.
I have no affiliation with EuroVelo or other organisations mentioned here, I am just a tourist sharing his views and opinions.