Some Like It Hot, Not Moi

Trip Start May 12, 2012
Trip End May 29, 2012

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Flag of France  , Centre,
Thursday, May 24, 2012

I apologize that my pictures are out of order.  I don't know what happened. 

We got up at 7:30 and left by 8:15. We went to the bakery and got breakfast pastries and to the grocery store and got sandwiches and Paprika Pringles.  Derek didn't get a sandwich, he opted to find something later.  We drove and drove and drove through Auray, Vannes, Nantes and Angers.  It got warmer and warmer and warmer along the way.  It also got a lot more humid as evidenced by the haze we could see all around us.  We stopped at a rest area to use the facilities and we stopped at another one along the motorway where Derek got a large sub. 

We drove until we got to our first stop, Villandry.  We found a picnic area and sat and had our lunch in the shade.  Then we drove a little further down the road and parked to go see Chateau Villandry.  It was a large chateau with humongous gardens – 10 acres.  We opted to just visit the gardens because Mr. Steves said the inside of the chateau was nothing special.  It was very hot in the sun, 81 degrees.  I think I got sunburned on my neck because I hadn’t put sunscreen on yet.  The gardens were really good with an Ornamental Garden that had Four Squares which made up the Love Garden.  There was a Woods up a steep path but Larry, Derek and Erin are all somewhat under the weather still so we skipped that.  The Water Garden was quite simple with a large pond and several water fountains.  The Sun Garden was my favorite.  It had three sections:  The Cloud Room planted with blue and white shrubs and perennials; The Sun Room with oranges and yellows around a fountain in the shape of a star; and the Children’s Room which was a grassy play area.  The Maze/Labyrinth was really easy since there were no dead ends.  You had to stoop through a low archway to move through it.  I enjoyed the Herb Garden and saw some of the same herbs I have in my garden.  The Vegetable Garden was amazing.  It was all planted in geometric designs with small boxwood hedges separating the different vegetables.  Even though everything was not in full bloom it was quite impressive.  By the time we finished we were all sweaty and tired. 

Our next stop was Azay-le-Rideau Chateau a Renaissance Castle.  We toured the inside and the outside.  We started by going up the main stair case three floors to the attic which was just newly opened to visitors.  Then we toured through the attic, the architecture of the ceiling was impressive.  We toured bedchambers, the Great Hall, the Oratory (a place for prayer), the library, dining room, kitchen, billiard room and Biencourt Room which had a collection of paintings and portraits.  I was really impressed by the huge fireplaces everywhere.  Derek could stand up inside them!  Outside there was a huge pond formed when the cannon walk was removed in the 1950s which allowed the river to create a mirror for the architecture.   The frogs were calling in the pond and there was a mallard duck with babies too.  We were really hot and really tired by the time we finished there. 

Our final stop of the day was the Gardens of La Chatonniere.  Rick Steves said they were bursting with color at this time of year.  But they were a huge disappointment.  The only part that was looking good was the Garden of Abundance.  The rest of it looked like the gardeners had quit or something.  Everything needed trimmed and weeded.  Some of the bushes and plants were dead.  It was really a waste of our time and money.  The Chateau itself is not open to the public but it was in a very picturesque setting in a little valley.  We were there for only about half an hour.  When we got in the car this time we turned on the air.

We headed for Amboise (Am-bwaz).  Derek decided to drive through Tours and not take the longer way around on the motorways.  It was a great decision.  We made it through easily and found a route to Amboise that went right along the Loire River.  We had a little trouble getting to Hotel La Blason because of one way streets.  Amboise is a charming city right on the Loire River.  We parked in front of the hotel and unloaded and went to our room – no air conditioning.  We are sitting here right now at 10:30 with the windows open (no screens) and a fan blowing on us.  Our rooms are small as we are in a half-timbered building with open beams on the ceiling. The bathrooms look some kind of module you would find on a very small cruise ship.  We dropped our stuff and laid down on our beds for a rest.  It was 6:00 and an hour until we could go out for supper.  Erin was finally hungry after 3 days of not eating much.

At 7:00 we left the hotel and headed to an area of outside cafes.  We went to the one Rick Steves recommended but all of the tables outside were reserved so they seated us in the back.  Well, it was so hot back there even with the ceiling fan going that we were sweating within 5 minutes.  We got up and left.  We walked a little further down the street and found a table inside/outside.  A lot of the restaurants can open their front to the street.  So we weren’t in the sun and we could still feel a breeze when it blew, which was seldom.  It was much more comfortable than the first restaurant and a lot less expensive.   Derek got chicken and vegetables, Larry got Filet Mignon of Pork, and Erin and I had Tagliatelles (long noodles) with Salmon.  We all had ice cream for dessert.  I think we had four carafes of tap water during the meal.

After supper we walked over to the river and walked up to the place where we could photograph Chateau Amboise which is right down the street from us.  Then we walked the other way along the river.  We sat on a bench and Larry and Erin sat on the wall to watch the sun go down.  We stayed for most of it but left before it was done because the sun’s rays were no longer making a path over the Loire River.  Trees were blocking it.  We got some good pictures anyway, before it was down too far.  When we got back it was time to get ready for bed and blog.

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