19 July – A Train Track and a Canal

Today was the last long ride of our tour, before we meet up with Gretel and family at Craon. We rode 85km to Laval, the city closest to Craon.

Once again we were well served by the Voie Vertes (green ways), being off road for most of the journey. We traveled for around 20km on country roads to the start of the Voie Verte. On the way we stopped at the small town of Céauce and bought a sausage in a baguette from an outdoor market – it was just like boerewors and delicious.

The next 20km were along an old railway line. The railway tracks are still in place in parts. People can hire rail cycle cars to ride up and down the tracks at Saint-Loup-du-Gast. We turned off the track here to look at the town, as it boasts that it has won awards for its street flower decor. It was very small but pretty.

We stopped again at the city of Mayenne to look around. The city is on the Mayenne river with a bridge and Chateau overlooking the river. We explored the outside of the Chateau and the church. We enjoyed the river views from the ramparts while eating our midday snack.

The next part of the ride from Mayenne to Laval was all along the Mayenne canal. What is notable about the Mayenne canal locks is that three of them house restaurants or bars. One had lots of people seated at tables outside it when we passed. Two of the locks had old flour mills attached to the weir (‘barrage’ in French). A number also had micro power generators attached to the weirs.

The road was very sandy and we arrived covered in grit. Coming in along a canal is a good way to enter a city. We just had to cross a bridge and we were in Laval. We spent a bit of time at the Office de Tourisme finding accommodation. Most of the bed and breakfasts could not accommodate us for three nights. Eventually we found one, which is nice but not good value.

We have now done more than 5600km since we started in mid May.

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