The drive from Bilbao to the Loire Valley was very nice. Leaving Bilbao, the road takes you through high hills, and then down to the french border. I was a bit disappointed, I thought we would be able to see the Pyrenees, but I guess the mountainous part of the them doesn't come that far west. The nice thing about France, is that the speed limit is 130km/h. The bad thing about France was it seemed like there was a toll booth every 100km or so...
We decided to stop in the town of Angouleme for lunch. Angouleme is a beautiful medieval city perched on a hill, with a magnificent byzantine cathedral.
That evening we reached the Loire Valley, where we would spend the next day. The Loire Valley is famous for it many castles. First built in the middle ages for defense, and then later as homes for the rich nobility to spend the summer. The next day we rented bikes to explore the Loire Valley and to visit some castles. One of the castles I visited was the fortress of Chinon. This castle used to be the home of many French and English kings and queens. It is where Joan of Arc visited King Charles VII to convince him to let her lead his armies. This pictures is taken from a bridge looking up the Vienne River to Chinon:I also visited the Abbey of Fontevraud. This is where the remains of King Richard I, King Henry II, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Queen Isabella of Angouleme used to be kept. However they were probably destroyed during the French Revolution, and now all the remains is their tomb covers:
It is a very beautiful region for biking. The roads were quite, the nature was beautiful, and discovering a castle around every corner was really cool. The only problem I had was finding a decent map at the tourism bureau. As a result, I managed to discover a very nice nuclear power plant, that I hadn't been looking for. But, it was very imposing and industrial looking.
The Loire river:
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