Stage 19 .....almost....almost.....Chatillons -sur-Chalaronne - Vienne
It wasn't a promising prospect; grey, looming sky...a drizzling rain. But what a breakfast. All beautifully laid out on an enormous table elegantly covered with an attractive brocade motif cloth...and 24 different types of jam I. Little glass Kilner- type pots! Fortified, we set off - taking the opportunity of buying a map of the region that was rather more detailed than the ones we already had. Today we would not have the luxury of the Garmin. And then the rain came down. It was very wet and more than a little chilly. Nor could one appreciate the countryside which was shrouded in lowering clouds.we arrived in Villars-les-Domes pretty soaked and I have to say I do not want to go back. It proved extremely difficult to find a way out and, indeed, we failed to find the carefully worked out route sent by Julian. However, we persevered and in the end succeeded in getting ourselves back on track. Now the weather cheered up a little, and we made some progress eventually stopping for a very traditional French lunch at a bar, Chez Chris..terrine of from age du chèvre, a steak and fruit salad....Then on we went but the way was not without complication ( not exclusive to France, I may say) Road signs all too often don't direct one to the village one thought one wanted and the signs showing the Road numbers are randomly allocated. Sometimes frequent, at other times not at all and rarely on road signs, so working out where one is even with detailed instrucyptio s is a major task. It took ages to work round St Laurent de Mure and then Herieux and then Valencin. Then the rain came down with a vengeance. It poured....and poured - and we slogged on. Nor was the terrain as I expected. After a day of easy flat roads, now we were faced with long climbs up followed by swooping descents. My hands were glued to the handle bars, my eyes fixed resolutely ahead. The road was not ultra busy, but lorries roared past every so often, while cars rushed by. It was sad because the surrounding country was fairly spectacular. By the time we arrived in Vienne, drowned rats would have been no exaggeration. And getting into Vienne was by the almost motorway style road. Terrifying. But here we are IBIS St Louis - the most expensive of our rooms and the least deserving. Yes the water is hot, yes food is served at all hours and they can deal with bikes, but our room on the 5th floor is rather dark and oppressive, no outside window ( a skylight, minimal opening) and a very odd unpleasant smell. This is supposed to be value for money! The Restover was real value for money - kettle etc in room..!
Ah well, all part of life's rich tapestry...Tomorrow we head for VALANCE and our goal, Malissard. Let us hope for good weather