Angers & Caen

Our last two nights in France were spent in Angers & Caen, which obviously we pronounce angers and cane which is obviously wrong. People would look confused when I said we were getting the ferry back to the UK from Caen, but they would brighten up and say “Calais?” and I would agree, since it’s really much of a muchness. The riding wasn’t very interesting although the vineyards from La Cotiniere were quite impressive especially as many of them have their own chateau. Unfortunately bike = no alcohol so we didn’t visit any. Next time.

Angers is a pretty place with some impressive buildings and parks, but it wasn’t a great stop. First, the GPS didn’t know that Angers now has tram tracks and a complicated one-way system in its streets, so we got hopelessly lost. Then it started to rain as we sat in a carpark trying to convince the GPS to find us another way to the hotel. When we set off again the bike sounded rather strange going down hills. We finally ended up (by accident) in an undercover carpark in the town centre where Toby checked the bike’s oil and discovered it was low. The bike had obviously decided to do away with the old fashioned indicator light to warn us of this and instead go straight to strange noises. Luckily the hotel was actually just over the road when we left the carpark so it was easy enough to check in and then go online to find a motorbike shop within walking distance.

Pretty park in Angers

We walked through this nice park but didn’t hang around – partly because what you can’t see on the left hand side of the fountain is 3 neo Nazis planning a dog fight. Seriously, that’s what it looked like.

“Walking distance” turned out to be 2.6km away via Angers’ housing projects but we got there in the end and despite the language barrier managed to buy the right kind of oil and trudge back to town, where we avoided the worst rain by visiting the supermarket and then having a carpet picnic in the hotel. By then we were exhausted and didn’t much feel like going out to explore even though the rain had eased and the town looked worthwhile. Sometimes, life just gets in the way. In the morning it was time to put the oil in the bike and hope that fixed the funny noises. Sounds easy enough but oil doesn’t come in suitable pouring containers so I ended up having to visit a pharmacy to buy a baby bottle which actually worked brilliantly. Eventually though we were on our way and the oil did the trick.Angers churchWe found this church trying to find the supermarket. I was like “that must be the cathedral” and took some photos. Ha ha. The cathedral is at least twice as big (and I didn’t take any photos because we were in a hurry to find the supermarket). I love the churches in France, they are all so grand they all look like they could be the cathedral.Caen was much easier and we even had time to explore, although sadly not enough time to visit what is apparently an excellent museum on the war. Again, something to do next time. We have now ridden through French war regions several times and never actually done anything about it, which is quite shameful really. We visited the castle and then wandered through the Friday night markets which were incredibly crowded and very smoky, but it was fun to be amongst the locals. Toby had found us an apartment to stay in which was in Caen’s housing projects (we’re so lucky), so instead of a carpet picnic we could actually cook dinner. Except the cooktop didn’t work so we had microwaved gnocchi (email me for the recipe!!), but at least we could make sandwiches for the ferry the next day.

Entrance to the castle

The castle used to have a moat which is now filled in and used by groups of young punks to hang out and smoke. What you can’t see in this photo is the young couple behind us hanging out in the castle walls, him with no shirt on. I guess it was chafing?

View of the church from the castle walls

Caen’s done a good job of giving the ferry-hopers stuff to see. Inside the castle walls is kind of an arts precinct, including this very cool courtyard of the beaux arte galerie. Can you see the weird animals on top of the pedestals? They were swaying ever so slightly in the fairly strong wind. Just watching them made me feel a bit dizzy.

When we woke up it was raining and I didn’t relish the idea of packing up the bike in the rain, or waiting for the ferry in the rain. But, as it had done all that week, the rain miraculously stopped when we needed it to. The ferry was delayed but still, we didn’t get rained on. It was an horrendous ferry trip over, very rocky and sea sickness-inducing, combined with screaming children (seriously, I have never seen so many toddlers in one place that wasn’t a daycare). We were so happy to get off that boat.

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