Sunday, June 5, 2011

Euro Day 10

May 23 2011Day 10

First a few more roadside  poppy pictures.

 

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We slept just outside of Angers (point A) in a nearly empty campground, may have opened recently for the summer or something. Although there were no warm croissants waiting for us in the morning, the manager was very friendly. In fact, when I asked for recommendations for the best Chateau to visit in the Loire she wrote down a list then suggested a campsite a friend of hers ran near Cheverny, one of the popular Chateau. She also got us directed to a nearby bakery before a severe butter deficiency set in. With a bag of the standard croissants, chocolate-au-pain, and a brioche in case of emergency, we headed out Chateau-ing.

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Our first stop was in Chinon (Point B) where a fortress, that at various times had housed Richard the II (Lionheart), Charles the II (France) and Joan of Arc, sat perched on a hill above vineyards and the Loire. The castle had been partially reconstructed after falling into disrepair but still had a great feel to it.

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View from the parking with some nice gorse (the yellow shrub).

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Upon entry we were told to swipe the guidebook they gave us against these “E” symbols which would start English narrations for the areas we were in. Very clever bit of technology. There were also videos depicting events and people in the castles projecting on artful little screens set in the middle of the rooms which we all loved.IMG_2155

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  I think our favorite part was climbing up narrow tower staircases to the tower-tops then down even narrower passages to the dank dungeons.

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Beautiful views of the Loire and Vineyards from the towers.

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After Chinon we drove through quaint villages, pastures, and vineyards with their caves (we think it means wine cellar) to Usse for a quick look at the Chateau the inspired the Sleeping Beauty story (that’s two Disney castles we’ve got covered with Tangled being copied from Mont-Saint-Michel).

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Then on the Chenonceaux (the bridge castle) with a brief stop for some pastries…still haven’t tried all the ones we want yet and only a few days left. At Chenonceaux (Point C) we first explored the maze…

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…then walked by the stables…

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…the cute gardeners cottage which seemed to be bursting with wisteria…

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…and the formal gardens…

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…before getting to the castle (partially under repair)…

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…which spans the river Cher. Wow, an 8 picture sentence. The river was low due to the weather.

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   The ornate rooms were kind of standard castle fare, but the really cool part was the kitchens. Several rooms filling and spanning the piers in the river made of light cream stone with wooden furniture…

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a big black stove that actually seems like it wouldn’t be too hard to cook on…

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…and gleaming copper pots, pans and pudding moulds. Wouldn’t mind incorporating some of those themes into the dream house…or dream-chateau. On the way out we stopped to let the kids play in the kids area…

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At this point we had decided to cut out the Dordogne portion of the planned trip due the arriving a few days later than expected and not wanting to drive the extra 8 hours over two days it would take to see it (plus $200 in gas), so we put it on the list for the next visit…maybe in two years…and went looking for a sit down dinner. We felt like Italian and found a suitable place in Blois (pronounced Blah). The kids meal came with a plate sized thin pizza, juice and ice cream (actually a decent price despite being 8 euros), I got their antipasta which had 4 little cups of toppings for the crunchy bread. I really don’t know what was in the things, but it tasted good and seemed pretty fancy-doodle to me…even had some kind of fish eggs in one. Anna had a three-cheese penne which turned out to be pretty strong flavored and I had a delicious eggplant lasagna. We all shared the kids ice cream for desert—a scoop of pistachio and one of white-chocolate.

Another roadside Loire chateau…Belvedere I think.

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We decided to camp at the recommended campsite near Chiverny. The manager was a happy friendly guy even before I gave him the message from the campsite manager in Anger. We’re getting pretty speedy at setting up camp…under 10 minutes to have everything ready…and let the kids play at the playground for a while.

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They even have a common room available with Wifi and plugs which makes this a more comfortable, if less scenic, place to log than any others I’ve had recently. Tomorrow we’re looking forward to visiting a castle that is being constructed from scratch by a bunch of history buffs using only 13th century techniques which is halfway complete with only another 13 years to go. As I’ve been toying with this idea of building a medieval village as a hobbyist/tourist attraction somewhere in the States it may be useful. Reality check—I know to do it the way it would need to be done would probably be prohibitively expensive, but dreaming is free :) …and hey, these guys seem to be doing it.

1 comment:

esbboston said...

I love your photography, very nice.