All images and text ©Chris Wormald 2016, may only be used after a fee has been paid and written permission granted.
A spell of fine weather! How could I resist? So I set off back to Laval, where it seemed that the only boats moving on the lovely Mayenne were small hire craft with silly awnings that catch the wind and make accurate steering impossible. Indeed listening to the crunching sounds as these ungainly little boats passed through the lock downstream of central Laval made me giggle.
Trappe du Port du Salut at Entrammes, is an old mill, lit by the westering sun. There were no craft to be seen, but a quiet car park offered a quiet night in the van with Radio 4 for company. The next morning dawned with misty chill and atmospheric photo-opportunities of the weir and the old mill.
Chateau Gontier beckoned with morning shots from the Mayenne and a church on a hill, a sort of high church I supposed; which turned out to be a huge renovation project next to a little park complete with an enclosure of goats, some tiny and very sweet, all playing King of the Castle on a log.
I liked Chateau Gontier a lot, half timbered, (colombage) buildings in some picturesque streets and a wonderful cobbled and very steep path up to the church, which must be very slippery indeed when wet; but hey! there was no wet in sight.
Crossing from the Mayenne to the Sarthe via some pretty villages with lovely moorings brought me to Chateauneuf sur Sarthe with views of what was an enormous mill now renovated into waterside flats; the tourist office behind the mill gave me some good guidance and literature and I decided to head for a campsite for a more restful overnight laying full length in my small tent.
Ignoring the offer of a 15 euro night in a campsite with a pool full of screaming inhabitants, I chose a 9.5 euro pitch in a large campsite in La Flèche on the river Loir, a masculine river without the ‘e’ of its more southerly (almost) namesake.
La Flèche is town with some lovely river views, grand architecture and a very expensive restaurant. I marvelled at the menus exhibited for all to see; the 70 euro per person menu and 50+ euro for a bottle of wine did not tempt me in the least to try the “Mill for all Seasons”.
The town hall occupies what was a superb chateau almost surrounded by water, quite why it has what appears to be, a grey concrete rocket silo immediately behind it, is a question I leave for others to answer. However getting an evening shot of the building and its reflection in the water without putting undue emphasis on the silo was a worthwhile challenge.
The nearby town of Durtal also on the River Loir, is architecturally interesting with its enormous Chateau and ancient mills.
Next day, I hankered for a smaller and less expensive sort of river and wound up in La Suze sur Sarthe, a lovely little town with a very pretty setting on a very quiet river. This weekend is a major bank holiday with the feast of Assumption and marks the middle of the summer holidays for the French, but still the river was quiet. The lock is just out of the town with a charming lock-keepers cottage which I shall photograph when the afternoon sun is on the frontage. What chance of a boat in the lock? That is more likely to bet against than for.
I decided to visit Le Mans on my way back to St. Aubert. It was a place that I had previously associated with noisy cars and petrol-headed idiocies of the Clarkson variety, instead I was delighted by an unexpected architectural treasure.
Here is a link to what I discovered.