Thursday 26th July, 2007 It was time to head back north on Thursday. We were to overnight in the Loire Valley. This was to be, by far the longest drive - but we made very good time indeed. Surprisingly good, in fact. Maybe it just seemed that was as I was feeling quite fresh.
It seemed to take such a long time before we were out of the shadow of the mountains, though - the motorway to Toulouse runs parallel to the Pyrenees, and occasionally there are references to them. For example, there is the Aire de Pic du Midi, which is named for the most prominent mountain... we'd been going quite some time as we passed that!
We decided to start our journey by going west, to avoid the climb over the Tourmalet. This was slightly longer, but we thought it'd be quicker - and given that it was a long journey I thought that was a reasonable compromise. Given that the journey was smooth and that I felt quite fresh, I now regret that decision. It would have been nice to go over the Tourmalet again.
We stayed in Hotel St. Cyr in a place called La Ferté St-Cyr. It's a reasonable hotel, quite comfortable. Scary toilets (there is some electronic device which arranges to suck your doings away most rapidly).
Whilst the Pyrenees made a great cycling holiday for hard-core cyclists, the Loire valley looked like it'd fit the bill for the rest of us in a 'nice' kind of way. Straight roads, pretty, leafy and green, small ups and downs along the way.
We didn't do much that evening, only crossing the road to eat at Robin Des Bois. This restaurant did not impress us. We waited for a very long time just to get the menu. Another couple, in the same position, walked out. We were about to follow suit when the menu appeared. The food wasn't great, but acceptable at the price - though we did have to correct the guy's recall of what we ordered a couple of times. There was a couple (Dutch, possibly German) at the next table - they were chatting amongst themselves and two words drifted over loud and clear: 'Fawlty Towers'. Including us, there were only four tables occupied in the place, from a capacity of maybe 10. It's understandable that the guy may have been really short handed as a result, but surely restaurant rule number 1 is to get 'em seated, and get the order in - not get 'em seated and make 'em wait before you even give 'em the menu!