As it’s Saturday and so there’s no school, we decided to go for a long walk in the misty weather. Our cunning plan was to walk to Tracy-sur-Loire and have lunch there before walking back. That wasn’t quite what happened.
Our route took us down the hill to Saint-Satur and over both the lateral canal and the Loire River. The bridge over the Loire is modern and quite busy, making this by far the least pleasant part of the trip. However we soon found ourselves on a small side-road wandering through some forest. The Loire is the dividing line between the Sancerre and the Borgogne administrative areas and the two banks are quite different. The Borgogne side, the Eastern side, is much flatter. There is a huge flood plain filled with vegetable farms and the gentle hills with forest.
As we walked along I pointed out some stinging nettles to the boys. Declan, in his usual fashion, had to see what it was like to be stung. After a couple of abortively tentative tries he got a nice sting on the back of his hand. He happily treated it some dock leaves. Callum, of course, wasn’t going to remove his gloves for love or money. That said, as the day got colder, Callum being the only one of us actually wearing gloves was looking pretty sensible.
We decided that, looking at the map, Tracy-sur-Loire was so small that it was unlikely to have much in the way of food. So we changed plans mid-road and headed for Boisthibault which looks bigger on the map. Boisthibault is in fact bigger than Tracy, but it was a ghost town. There was nothing to be seen but shuttered houses – not a person, not a thing moved. A lot of the towns around here come alive in the Summer months, and we can only assume Boisthibault is one of them. Anyway, at that point we fortified ourselves with some chocolate and girded our loins to walk on to Tracy-sur-Loire.
The path from Boisthibault to Tracy takes you past the Chateau Tracy which is a pretty place with pointed towers and a small lake. The road then meanders down past a church and to the village centre which was, if it’s possible, even more deserted than Boisthibault. I have to say the boys did well at this point. We had walked about 12km, it was getting wet and cold and the promised food had not eventuated: but there was not a murmur of complaint.
We walked back past an absolutely enormous field of some root vegetable we couldn’t identify. Seriously this field stretched as far as we could see and was absolutely filled with the stuff. Eventually we found ourselves back at the bridge over the Loire and started retracing our steps homeward. Luckily the small town on the opposite bank had an open patisserie – so we finally had a snack before hitting the last stretch. One thing French villages do really well is quality bread and pastries. Really it’s worth walking yourself to exhaustion just to feel good about eating another pastry.
That last stretch of our walk, of course, meant heading back up to Sancerre and we could all feel our legs by the time we trudged back into the town square and headed straight for the Cafe des Arts for milkshakes and beers.