Travel notebook

From oasis to oasis

Our two horsepower carriage has come a long way! The first frosts are here. After the Orne, it is the Sarthe and then the Loir-et-Cher. All for « rillettes » and « rillettes » for all. In fact this year the record for the largest sandwich was broken in Tours: more than 74 meters of bread– The interest of the concept still has to be confirmed. But as Gaston says « when it comes to food, it’s no joke ! »

Everywhere on our path, passers-by, children and motorists have showed their support with thumbs up, victory “Vs” and smiles. We have been received as heroes in these times when everyone needs it. Our stops in towns and villages create crowds. Questions are asked, phone cameras flash, cheers ring out. We are greatly encourgaed and supported by the good will of the French. It warms the heart and soul.

After leaving the Bichettes, we began the ascent of The Avaloirs Mount. This marks the end of the Armorican chain. That’s it, Duchess Ann’s homeland is definitely behind us. By strange coincidence, that same evening we set up camp at the edge of the woods under a shade in front of St Ann’s chapel. Our horses rested in a cattle park that has been used for fairs for centuries. The neighbor served us “petrol” so that we could warm ourselves up. We lit a fire and prepared a homemade raclette with our pot and a piece of cheese. It was a great success.

Next day, we arrived in Saint Cénéri-le-Gerei in the pouring rain. An old gentleman who likes to call himself a wanderer guided us in one of the most beautiful villages in France. He advised us to avoid the arduous paths leading to “Saint Leonard des Bois”, a village between two huge cliffs crossed by the Sarthe river. Thanks to these wise words, we met Patricia and her quadruped friends who welcomed us  in their charming house next to the Saint Laurent chapel. Water from our clothes trickled and created puddles. After a hot meal, we rushed into the arms of Morpheus.

In the morning, the crossing of the Alpes Mancelles went perfectly, Suvorov would be proud of us! It was Claude and Catherine’s turn to welcome us in their former donkey farm.

 They also decided to leave everything behind and travel the world in a van. The welcome is once again fantastic.

Our week ended in style. The farmers of Fresnais-sur-Sarthe built us an unusual shelter: a calf shelter with straw in order to isolate us from the cold. The four of us slept in the same field, with the horses keeping an eye on us rather than the other way round. They grazed and snored in our ears. We were reassured.

We had a break on Sunday and rented a small one-room cottage, at a beekeeper’s house.

On Monday we set sail for Vendôme-Blois. We slept in the tent next to a stable full of calves, cows and kittens. At dawn, after downing the croissants and pain au chocolat offered by our guests, we jumped on our saddles.

Fields as far as the eye can see,not a hedge in sight No forests. The desolation of the landscape pinched our hearts. We had entered the reality of intensive agriculture… Orne, where are you? The crossing of Nogent-le-Bernard made our day.

The hospitality of its inhabitants will remain engraved in our minds. The camp was set up in an apple grove. A delicious homemade white pudding with a french “pot au feu” was offered to us by a couple full of life. The night in the tent was good despite below zero temperatures. When we woke up the water of our valiant horses had frozen. One of our phones cowardly gave up but kind Julie offered us one. We stood with our arms dangling in front of so much attention. After a delicious breakfast once again offered by this family, we hit the road.

But once again, the intensive agriculture of the Sarthe sapped our mood for the day. We camped in “La Prairie”, a vast expanse of grass that next morning Grisha likened to the steppe and thought it was good to let go of the horses in order for them to eat some fresh grass. Drama. Cataclysm. Fury outbursts: the horses ran away. After a frantic race of two kilometers, the fugitives were stopped by a vet. This nature lover who was passing by to take photos of birds, was none other than the incarnation of Bellerophon who in Lycia under the happy auspices of the Gods tamed Pegasus, king of horses. Heaven then sent us a second cloud of guardian angels, the horsemen of the Haras de la Pelois. Faced with this celestial army, the escapees had to submit. With trembling legs we brought the vanquished back under heavy escort to the stud.

A new deluge of generosity overwhelmed us. The team of the stud opened its arms and doors to us, pouring on us a stream of benevolence: a warm bed, a hot shower, an evening of laughter. Even more, Amoer and Brutus were massaged by Agathe, a renowned physiotherapist in the region.

The weekend that followed could not be described with enough words. The Chéron family and Olivier, accompanied by the “retirement club”, gave us the feeling of being one of them. They allowed us to discover the world of poultry farmers of Loué. Dear friends, thank you from the depths of our hearts.

Our itinerary then took us to the Loire castles. We walked in the streets of Blois and visited Chambord with the horses.

The week ended under the roof of Cheyenne’s family. After an evening of hospitality and frank laughter among the representatives of the Freebooters Motoclub, we left our beloved horses in their hands for the Christmas break. The adventure will resume on January 1.

So what to say? Thank you? It seems that no words can convey our gratitude to all those we met during these three months. Every day we were inundated with messages of support, generosity and encouragement. Every day we looked forward to the twilight which then became a special moment to discover beautiful people. Every day we were convinced more and more of the boundless conviviality of this admirable rural France that we don’t talk about enough, this magnificent France that never ceases to be wrongly criticized, this sublime France that is full of treasures that can make all the exotic countries we rush to green with jealousy.

Yes, it’s a beautiful trip! In these difficult times, in pursuit of our star, we have walked from an oasis of goodness to an oasis of kindness. Perhaps this luck is due to our naivety and our so-called childish faces! But let’s make hay of all these questions and live! Let’s live life to the full! Let’s reach out to others and give them all the best we have.

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