Monday, June 24, 2013

Cycling the chestnut route in Deux Sevres


Following a hectic weekend that saw Ade’s final return from Brussels (yippee, let the summer begin) and the annual Dance Gala that brings the community together to ensure 60 plus young dancers get a brief taste of fame, Monday morning started with a some baking before we escaped with our bikes this afternoon. We lunched on an energy packed fish and couscous salad followed by a slice of fat free cherry cake and then set off direct from home following the narrow back lanes towards the local town of Sauze Vaussais.

french village diaries cycling deux sevres chateau Jouhé
The chateau at Jouhé
The route takes in a couple of Chateaux, nothing grand like in the Loire but pretty all the same, walnut orchards and many fine sweet chestnut trees. In our village there are no chestnut trees as our soil is not right, but you don’t have to go far to find the soil becoming a deep orange colour and the chestnuts appear. My neighbour, Pierrette, remembers spending days with her uncle collecting chestnuts as a child in the early 1950’s. They would leave in the morning with his horse and carriage, taking a picnic and spend the day stocking up on chestnuts to be shared with the extended family. From the size of some of the trees we saw I guess they have been there since before Pierrette was a child.

french village diaries cycling deux sevres Sauze Vaussais
Bar de la Tour Sauze Vaussais
In Sauze Vaussais we stopped for a beer in the Bar de la Tour. The friendly barman served them with a smile, but unfortunately there wasn’t too much sun on the terrace. We did have a good view of the clock tower that has pride of place in the town centre and were able to listen to it strike the (same) hour twice, a few minutes apart. The return took us past the first golden wheat fields we’ve seen this year and also some fields planted with tobacco, a crop we don’t see around our village. I could have done without the breezy wind, especially on the steady uphill roads that saw me lagging way behind Ade. He often complains that a cycle with me (in tow) hardly sees him break a sweat, but after 45kms I sure feel I’ve had a good workout.

We were back home with plenty of time to mow the lawn in the sunshine before saying goodbye to our first summer visitors.

french village diaries cycling deux sevres lavoir Hanc
The lavoir in Hanc