Predictably enough, yesterday’s sensible plan to get the train part of the way to Amboise didn’t last long when I set off walking and realised I felt fine….We left Cande together around 7.45 but I left Rosie to follow the cycle route along the river to Chaumont whilst I followed the official GR655 route, which loops up into the woods before dropping down to Chaumont; a good opportunity for me to work out whether I was happy walking in the woods by myself. Turns out I really enjoyed the cool morning light and deep quiet.We met at Chaumont for coffee and for me to pick up emergency lunch pastries then Rosie crossed the river to get a train into Amboise whilst I carried on walking. I took a pragmatic approach again to the path’s ins and outs, looping away from the road towards Rilly but shortening the loop by taking a path through a shady plantation. One of the pleasures of today’s walk was the amount of shade – another was the fact there was much more variation in height above the river and terrain than on previous days. Landowners seem to take a healthy patchwork approach to the countryside – there are large fields of cereal stubble at this time of year but these are surrounded by big areas of mixed deciduous woodland. I suspect that it’s hunting (deer or wild boar?) that makes this viable but it does provide a refuge for much other wildlife – I saw red squirrels, woodpeckers, buzzards and many other birds today. Other walkers were conspicuous by their total absence though. This might be explained by the horrified looks all our Airbnb hosts give when we explain what we’re doing! It was good to see a few more Camino-specific signs appearing. There were no shops in Rilly and I wasn’t that tempted by a dry baguette, though I was entertained by the idea of a vending machine for bread.
Beyond Rilly I took the riverside path again for a while then headed up the hill in a long diagonal to Souvigny-de-Touraine. It looks like a substantial place on the map and there are plenty of houses but, disappointingly, no cafe or Boulangerie so I had to eat my emergency pastries. From there, the path follows a long arc downwards, along the course of the Amasse, which joins the Loire at Amboise. Entering Amboise from this side is completely lacking in romance – past the fire station and municipal recycling plant and through an incredibly bland estate of new houses.It’s not till you hit the older streets that you are struck by the charm of the place which sports not one, but two, chateaux and some beatiful old houses, including some built into the chalky cliffs. Perhaps an equally big impact, after a day spent alone, is the huge number of tourists from all corners of the world. I hear more English spoken on my way to meet Rosie by the bridge than we’ve heard since arriving in France a week ago. Rosie has bought more blister plasters and scoped out a restaurant to get the mussels she wants for dinner so we have a much-needed cold drink and head to our somewhat idiosyncratic garden room Airbnb to rest for a while. My feet and legs are really tired and the blisters haven’t shrunk any but its no more than should be expected from a 21 mile walk with a pack! Chateau Royale d’Amboise
Perhaps the most surprising thing on our post-dinner wander through the now-quiet streets of Amboise was to see an Alexander Calder sculpture in the yard of a back street art gallery!