freewheeling on the banks of the Loire

By Clément Guillou and Antonin Lainé

Posted today at 5:00 a.m.

At 6:55 p.m., five minutes before closing, Augustin Vautier pointed to the counter of the Saumur campsite (Maine-et-Loire), scarlet face, soaked T-shirt, calves gorged with lactate. The effort just produced on the banks of the Loire to arrive on time allowed him to land a location at 9 euros and a title of bravery awarded by his three comrades, who were hanging out upstream of the river. Augustine’s sacrifice, “The most athletic of the four”, will be told like a Napoleonic battle at the time of the saving beer, when the hops dissolve the small sufferings, the irritations of the buttocks, the errors of course of the day.

100 “Fragments of France”

Six months before the presidential election, The world paints a unique portrait of the country. 100 journalists and 100 photographers crisscrossed the field in September to portray today’s France. A nuanced picture, sometimes tender, often hard, always far from prejudices. These 100 reports are to be found in a large digital format.

The quartet connects Nantes from Tours, a link between the engineering schools of Tom, Léon, Chloé and Augustin. The aspiring engineer chose the Loire by bike, the most popular route in the country, for his first cycling touring experience. A feature common to many travelers crossed in this month of September, reflecting a strong increase in the practice since the first deconfinement, in spring 2020. All of them also have in common that they pedal in a good mood. No unnecessary anger, little bile poured into discussions handlebars in hand, whether it is to discuss vaccines, work, retirement, the presidential election and the world as it goes. The cycle paths make you as talkative as the bistros, but we are more sober, perhaps more friendly.

On the banks of the Cher, in Savonnières (Indre-et-Loire), September 5, 2021.
Augustin Vautier, Tom Gobardhan, Léon Leroux and Chloé Sainsard on the bike-route between Savigny-en-Véron and Candes-saint-Martin (Indre-et-Loire), September 5, 2021.
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Before his sprint towards Saumur, Augustin Vautier meandered between the vineyards of Chinon (Indre-et-Loire) and his decaying nuclear power plant. Ready, he has fun, in case “Climate apocalypse, to set up a self-sufficient place with friends, and to wait”. If the apocalypse does not come, it can be seen in the preservation of the environment, on the materials side, recycling or eco-design. He eats organic and local, has reduced his meat consumption to a socially acceptable minimum, advocates the end of the plane and the private car. “Among my friends, I remain an anomaly, even if now everyone understands, everyone pays attention. “

Bubble of tranquility

Sobriety is education, cycling is a way of living it. Picnicking a little further, Hugo piled up his melon peels on a beach on the banks of the Loire. His girlfriend, Nolwenn, 26, shares some beliefs with him “Alternatives” and “A house to renovate in a remote village of Mayenne”. They no longer want to take the plane, the car tires them out, the train is expensive, the bike remains: they found it “A feeling of freedom and independence”. Angers-Tours in five days. The journey slows down. Hugo dreams: “The change of society will require a change of agriculture. Small farms have to be set up everywhere and sell in a short circuit, because the Biocoop is too expensive. ” Nolwenn, filled with pride: “That’s what he’s going to do!” “ An orchard, eight hectares with sheep below, maybe chickens. Apples, pears, grapes, kiwis, apricots, which global warming is now growing in Mayenne.

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