The region of Poitou Charentes surrounds the city of Poitiers, the remote agricultural heartland of France. In season enjoy the sunflower Tour de France-esque views and the locally grown melons.
But things weren't always this way, the region is littered with the memories of more turbulent times. The village of Coussay (one of the most beautiful villages in France (according to local residents)) was briefly home to the infamous Richelieu, the cardinal of 3 Musketeers fame! This route start next to the village church, just behind the fairy castle towers of the chateau.
The small rolling rises display the open countryside, dissected by Roman roads, scattered with quiet villages. The route skirts around Moncontour with its commanding tower, and heads to the village of Oiron - the Chateau (a museum of contemporary art) dominates the approach to the village.
The fading medieval town of Thouars, with castle, is the lunch stop, with a section of track leading into the town, and a twisting climb to mount into the centre. Good food can be found at the restaurant in the main square or the Cafe des Arts just round the corner is an Art Deco time capsule, well worth a visit.
After lunch the route takes a loop into the valley of the River Thouet, including a slight navigational anomaly which takes in an extra hill.
The possibility of an unfriendly headwind is countered by a slightly more sheltered route heading in and out of the river valley. The Divine Valley is just that, but is also the last dip before heading up on to the plain and looping back to Coussay.
Post ride food is best sought in the nearby village of Mirebeau!