Month: June 2015

Onward to Chartres

Pack up time again, and with a leisurely trip of about 170kms to Chartres ahead of us, we were in no hurry to leave Amboise. Breakfast followed by coffee and croissant at the patisserie and a last look around town, including a visit to Clos Luce, the last residence of Leonardo Di Vinci. I previously mentioned Di Vinci’s influence over this town, and no where is it more evident than at this stately manor. Initially we thought we’d just look around from the road, but the 10 foot high stonewall put paid to that theory, so in we went to check it out. Leonardo’s influence doesn’t come cheap, €14 is at the high end, even for France, but when will we be back? Once again, a decision vindicated! We had a great time wandering around for an hour or two, going through the main villa with plenty of information on Di Vinci’s phenomenal talents, especially in the field of engineering. Model tanks imagined five hundred years early, machine guns, draw bridges and parachutes, gliders and …

A Chateau kind of Day

The Loire Valley is famous for its Chateau, so what better way to spend a day than visiting some? Breakfast at the apartment then into town to get a coffee, which wasn’t bad. Cool little patisserie that will get more of our Euro’s before we leave here. Our first visit is to the largest and most popular, Chateau Chambord, about one hour from Amboise up the river. You enter down a long boulevard flanked by forest before opening up to glimpses of what was to come. This is one impressive structure, huge by any measure. It dominates the horizon surrounded by water, manicured gardens and 5,400 hectares of forest, all enclosed by 34kms of stone wall. Super impressive inside and out, this Chateau is regarded as the international symbol of French Renaissance and is the most visited of all the Loire palaces. Tick! Second visit was about 50 minutes away down some interesting single lane roads, encroached on by fields of maze, wheat, and corn, and in one spot the most beautiful meadow of sunflowers …

The Loire Valley

One of the many up sides of staying at the Abbey was the sleep in and the sumptuous breakfast. Most of the food prepared at the hotel is locally sourced. Very local! Having indulged in both we set off once again with a walk around the Abbey in daylight, and yes, more photos of Richard the Lion Heart, where does the infatuation end?? With Hugh back in the drivers seat, phew, we headed of to a quaint village in the Loire Valley called Saumur. It was a quick stop to take a photo of one of the many Chateau’s which of course had scaffolding around the front due to renovations. Photo duly taken we jumped back in the car and headed to our next stop, Chinon. This little village is home to the Chateau Royale Chinon which we took the time to visit, despite the temperature now reaching into the 30’s…… The chateau at Chinon is aimed a bit at kids, with lots of interactive stuff going on, plus plenty of reference to King Arthur….who …

On to the Loire, with a slight detour.

It’s time to move on from Bordeaux, which has been excellent and would have benefitted from an extra day or two….so little time, so much to see! We’re off to the Loire Valley for the next few days, with our first night in the 11th century L’Abbeye Fontevraud, but before that a slight detour, of about 120kms, to a tiny village in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes you see or hear of a place and just have to see it, and this place we are off to meets the criteria, and luckily we are within the vicinity.  We saw a small feature on this small village on the weekend news a few months ago, had a friend also mention it when she heard where we were going, and the intrigue got the better of us. The village of Oradour-Sur-Glade is described on the signs as the ‘martyred village’ and is the result of a morning of murderous bastardry inflicted upon this little town in June 1944.  On June 10th, 1944, those nasty bunch of fuckers …

St Emillion

Breakfast on the balcony, day two of no croissants which is slightly ridiculous as we are in croissant territory yet here we are abstaining! We pick up our new wheels this morning which normally involves spending forever searching for the car rental place….sure enough. Finally, no where near the address supplied, we stumble upon Hertz to take custody of a Renault Captur diesel. Up selling is an art form at car rentals, and our maestro behind the counter didn’t disappoint, offering a manual GPS for a mere €16 per day extra, all the while failing to explain that the car comes with a GPS built in! …..we have our own Navman, thank you very much! Finally off to the famous Bordeaux region of St Emillion, which is about 70 kms away along mainly boring freeways. Speaking of GPS, you’ve got to love it when you set it for ‘fastest time’ and you end up on tiny laneways leading presumably to nowhere, then out pops your destination. 45 minutes later we arrive at the beautiful, historic, …

…when in Bordeaux?

Welcome to the world capital of wine, red especially. It’s pretty exciting to be here and get amongst the main attraction, but first….domestic duties! When traveling it’s imperative to plan accommodation according to certain criteria….cost, location, wi-fi, and….laundry facilities! A slight miscalculation has left us perilously close to bereft in the jocks & socks department, so the sight of a washing machine has made Rachael giddy with excitement. A flurry of activity and we resemble a Chinese laundry, unmentionables airing everywhere! All that nervous energy caused Rachael to head off for a run while I tendered to the sea of fresh clothes. The worlds smallest ironing board came out, supported by the crappiest iron, bed made, pillows fluffed and ready to start the day. With only two full days in Bordeaux I had been madly trying to book a tour of the Medoc region today, as we have a car tomorrow to do our own thing, but the cost of tours is outrageous. Some operators seem to think the mere thought of a Medoc visit …

Gluttonous Shenanigans.

After last nights revelry, a run along the foreshore was mandatory. After a sleep in, of course. I turned left at La Concha beach, while Rachael headed right towards Playa de Zurriola, which is the surf beach across the river. The beaches are spectacular, overlooked by imperial hotels and apartments, all very French Riviera like, combined with beachside pavilions housing bars, restaurants and the best positioned gym in Spain. Sunday morning saw the promenades packed with people walking or running off the previous nights indulgence! La Concha is by far the larger, sweeping around a small bay with the Isle Santa Clara plonked in the middle. Plenty of yachts complete the scene of relaxed opulence, bobbing on the gentle swell drifting in from the Bay of Biscayne. Forty minutes later we meet back at the start…and our day commences. With breakfast! At another great patisserie, packed to the gills on a late Sunday morning. Our body clocks are all over the joint, and breakfast at 11.30 doesn’t seem out of place. Croissants anyone? We headed …