We then take a pretty steep hill. One of the pieces of info Back Roads gives us is an elevation map. It isn’t precise, but it tells us more or less where the hills are and when we can expect them (this is also on our personal navigation directions of course). This helps us decide if we want to take the van, or keep going, or maybe split the difference. It looks like this:
From there to the Chateau Villandry where we walk around the gardens which are just not to be believed.
They give you all kinds of facts, like how many gardeners it takes to maintain the place etc (10 working 365 days a year if I remember right), but more interesting to me is the notion that the French were the first to beautify a vegetable garden with flowers. And this garden has horizontal apple trees hugging a foot-high rail which rings the flower gardens in many places. If I hadn't seen the fruit they were bearing, I wouldn't have believed it! Can you see them on the railings?
I also notice that the speed demons among us have begun to slow down and take in just how beautiful these rides are: they are a beauty overload. These capable riders can easily dust the rest of us on hills, and frequently do on straight-aways; but I often see them going at a more humane pace now. It is a country side that appeals to all the senses, and the nature of it is to just make you slow down and notice.