2015-07-07 Villiers-le-Morheir – Beaugency

Today’s photo shows a typical landscape scene from today of field after field of wheat and the odd patch of corn. This plains west of Paris is the bread-basket of France and the harvest was well underway as I must have passed about 50 combine harvesters on my travels today.

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First night in France in my pop-up tent. The last time I spent a night in a tent was also in France over 20 years ago. Despite the lack of practice, it took less than half an hour to assemble the tent and unpack everything. I used a Highlander self-inflating air-bed and 2 layers of Mondaplen corrugated silver foam under the sleeping bag and found it very comfortable, despite the hard ground. Had to stand on the tent-pins to get them in the ground, but the strong breeze all night meant there was no condensation on the tent in the morning.

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Total today – 115 km. Total so far 355 km. It is daylight in France about 6 but it was after 7, before I got up. After a bite to eat, it was time to load everything onto Travoy. My only previous attempt at packing up a pop-up tent took over half an hour but this morning, I managed it in about 2 mins. What took a lot of time was squeezing everything into the 80L Highlander rucksack and by the time I paid (€9), it was after nearly 11 before I got away from the campsite.

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Strong westerly breeze today. I had originally intended to go to a campsite in Blois but with a strong wind coming from the west, I decided to head south towards the Loire at Beaugency.  As you can see from the photo above, there is very little shelter as the landscape is predominately huge fields of wheat and corn. Strava has a cool new feature, which lets you check the weather for any day you were cycling and I have included a screenshot below to illustrate the wind.

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Wind turbine near Villamblain. Indeed, there are numerous wind turbines dotted about the region so obviously, the area is quite windy despite the low altitude. Ideally, you want the wind turbines pointing towards you as that means you have a tailwind but today, they were at right-angles due to the crosswind.

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Chartres cathedral. Today’s route today took me through Chartres, which is famous for it’s cathedral and in particular it’s stained glass windows. There was a brilliant documentary on Ancient Megastructures recently about it’s construction back in the 12th century.

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Camino milestone in Chartres. In medieval times, Chartres was a starting point for pilgramages to Santiago de Compostella in Spain and I came across a milestone on outskirts of Chartres for the Camino de Santiago.

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Camino pilgramage routes across Europe. Chartres was just one of hundreds of towns that pilgrims would travel through on their way to Santiago de Compostela.

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Claas combine harvester at work near Bullainville. I’d say I went past about 50 combine harvesters today. Claas seems to be the most popular model as well as New Holland, which is owned by Fiat. Claas are based in Germany make the biggest combine in the world, the Lexion 780 which can harvest up to 85 ton of grain an hour with its 12.3m wide cutter-drum, which is wider than most houses.

World record for harvesting wheat. Claas held the world record for the most grain harvested in a day up until last year when the record was smashed out of sight by a New Holland  CR10.90 in Lincolnshire with an average of 99 tons per hour.

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Camping Val de Flux beside the Loire in Beaugency. After nearly 10 hours on the road, I finally make it to Beaugency and the Val de Flux campsite. The campsite is very busy but the reception is still open despite it being nearly 9 o’clock, so I pay €7 for “un emplacement” and bedded down for the night.

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