Azay-le-Rideau to Villandry, Langeais and return

Trip Start May 23, 2013
Trip End Jun 28, 2013

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Flag of France  , Centre,
Sunday, June 2, 2013

Overcast and freezing cold this morning but a great hotel. Highly recommend Hotel Biencourt and Azay-le-Rideau. A quaint little town with really friendly people. Cyclists did different things today. Some did a loop ride to a couple of chateaux; some had a lay day and rested their weary legs; while others rode out and back to Chateau Villandry which is famous for its gardens. 
See photos (these are for you Kim). Col chose the last option and headed off after breakfast on a borrowed bike as his was not working properly. The support crew also chose this option along with Pauline and Sue's husbands, Rob and David. 
We got to Villandry early before the crowds and had a wonderful time wandering through the gardens. They employ 10 full-time gardeners and plant 85,000 plants twice a year! Better when the sun came out and warmer! Col went through the castle as well as gardens so will add his photos. Then is was time for coffee and the daily pastry!!! Back into the car and we drove along the bank of the Cher River to the point where it meets the Loire. 
Then onto Langeais. The chateau here was built in the 15th Century and is partly in ruins. Highlight was the market that was just packing up as we arrived. Found a shoe stall with great casual shoes for only 10 euros! So each of us girls bought a pair!
Then back to Azay-le-Rideau for a picnic lunch in the courtyard of the hotel. Baguettes, ham, 3 different cheeses, tomatoes and strawberries!!! Two different types. One was so sweet and floral it was like eating perfume!
We had planned to visit the chateau here in the afternoon but discovered that the community was having a fete. So wandered around the corner from our hotel and joined in. There was a rabbit 'racing' competition, face painting, food stalls, a bar and traditional folk dancing. Some of our cycling group - including Col were invited to join in - see video for a good laugh!
By the time we left the fete it was a bit late to visit the chateau so just walked around the parts of the grounds that were open to the public.  When we returned to the hotel we found that the owner had contacted the local bike repairer (who happened to be walking past the hotel on the way to the fete) who very kindly fixed Col's bike! Sunday afternoon, no double time and a half! Amazing! We will ask the bike hire company to reimburse the cost.
By this time it was beer o'clock, then 6pm is briefing for the next day, then 7.30 for dinner. Tonight we joined another couple from the group, Tony and Jan, who also lived in Canberra before moving to the coast.
We dined at a little restaurant a couple of doors down from the hotel with a limited traditional French menu. The food was excellent and the table service even better. See photos. The waiter had worked on cruise ships so he was well trained and spoke excellent English. Tony had dessert and it was Pavlova! Not the pavlova we know so I agreed to send a photo and a recipe of my mini-pavlovas to the waiter when we get home.
Another late night with too much good food and wine! C'est la vie!
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Heather on

What a lovely day you have had, gorgeous gardens and fantastic food, what more could you want. xx

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