When we headed out to get onto the bike to go to Angers, there was ice on the bike this morning which was testament to how cold it was last night. The temperature has been really dropping signalling winter on its way. We’ve now started wearing an extra layer of clothing to keep out the cold and when we’re on the bike we look like two Michelin Men. After months of full English breakfasts (fat boy breakfasts) it’s back to continental breakfasts now and it was amazing to have a proper croissant again.
The ones we buy in packs of ten from the supermarket are croissants in name only because there is nothing like a proper French croissant. They are so good that you don’t need to add anything. Just pull them apart and eat them. A good croissant should have a high degree of butter. We enjoyed fresh coffee, croissants and baguettes before getting underway.
Despite the cold the bike started first hit which is quite encouraging and very soon we were hurtling down the highway. The bike really loves this cold weather. The cold dense air really makes it run nice and smooth. It runs so nicely that I have to constantly check the speed and back off the throttle. It’s like a horse that wants to run free. However, the gendarme take a dim view of people speeding so I tried to ride to the conditions.
Today’s ride took us through Brittany and it was interesting seeing the typical Breton architecture of the houses. Arched doorways framed with sandstone blocks and whitewashed walls are typical of this region.
It was also fascinating seeing white and black (freckled) Normandie cattle and brown and white Maine-Anjou cattle. After being in Britain for so long it’s interesting to see different breeds. On many farms corn was left standing in fields slowly turning brown. It seems strange that in this part of the world corn is used mainly as stock food.
Passing through the Brittany region much of the countryside was small hills and valleys. There was lots of small farms and agriculture on a small scale.
With Jack Frost’s firm grip on this part of the country the leaves have turned a beautiful golden yellow and rich red. Some of the trees have already lost their leaves and in these mistletoe looks like balls of exploding fireworks amongst the upper limbs.
We were completely frozen by the time we made our first stop in a little town. Seeing a Bar Tabac we knew we’d be able to get a decent coffee at a good price. The local Bar Tabac are a fascinating snapshot of french life. It’s a place to buy tobacco, cigarettes, or pick up a newspaper. It’s also a place to catch up with friends and have a punt. This place was packed with men sitting around watching harness racing, whilst drinking wine. After a coffee and thawing out a little we headed towards Angers.
Our first view of Angers was the massive castle which overlooks the River Maine. The great black and white castle walls really were impressive. We headed past the castle and up the tree lined boulevard in search of our hotel. The wide French boulevards really are a magnificent feature of French cities. Eventually we found our apartment and after a while the owner arrived.
After settling in it was time to take a look around the city and get our bearings. Around the tourist bureau the streets were blocked off for trash and treasure markets. It was quite extensive and there were all sorts of antiques on sale. Antique markets in foreign countries really are fascinating as there are often items for sale that we’ve never seen before.
As the shadows lengthened and the chill descended on the city we headed back for the apartment. Tomorrow we’ll have a proper look around Angers when we join the Greeters Walking Tour.