Train to Angers - As you like

Trip Start Dec 12, 2012
Trip End Jan 07, 2013

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Flag of France  , Pays de la Loire,
Friday, December 28, 2012

Cut it a little too fine this morning. Taxied over to our second Paris hotel to drop off our excess bags - taxi driver took off while Jeff was in the hotel depositing bags – with me freaking in the backseat going “what are you doing??!!”, came around the block, picked Jeff up (still have no idea why he didn’t just wait 2 minutes outside the hotel) and then over to Gare Montparnasse with only about 15 minutes to spare.  Phew, I can’t take too many more of these down to the wire arrival times!

Train was pretty quick again, taking only an hour and a half to get down to Angers.  There’s so much water everywhere, at one stage the fields were flooded on both sides of the track, as if we were on a boat rather than a train.  Availed ourselves of some on board SNCF snacks via the dining car (no frocked transvestites like the Singapore to KL train Jill). Found our hire car place at the station and picked it up no problem.  

When booking there was a lot of contradictory terms about requiring an international licence in addition to your own but it all turned out to be a non-event, though the in built Sat-Nav was a little on the shite side, even when we finally worked out how to switch it to English.  It was quickly nick-named “Bimbo” in memory of Tracey’s hired GPS in Brisbane a few years back.  

As interesting as my waffle about picking up a hire car is (“Oooh did you hear that Mavis, they picked up a hire car”.  “Oh Wilfred, how exotic!”), I'll cut to the chase and say that about an hour later we arrived at the Chateau.  Didn't need to worry about finding it in Challain la Potherie, as there’s the chateau and about 40 houses.  Not a very big village!  

There was a lot of “Wow” coming out our mouths as we were greeted and shown around by Fabienne the head gardener / guest relations / chef (yeah, weird combo) and the self appointed guardian of the Chateau, the sad-eyed Zeus (an Alsatian).  

First stop was for a welcome cuppa in the basement kitchen complete with limestone walls, a crackling fire, battle scarred kitchen table and copper skillets & pots hanging from a rack above the table.  Next Fabienne showed us to our room.  More “Wow” and a few “OMGs” being uttered.  It’s even better than the pictures on the website!  

We actually have three rooms – the entry with the bathroom off to the side, then through to a sitting area and then finally the bedroom in the round tower with an honest-to-god massive four poster bed!  Yeah, we were pretty happy with our accommodation by this point!

Went out to the car to get our luggage after rugby-tackling the massive wooden front door to get it open again (must have been funny to watch), then promptly lost our way and couldn’t find our room.  None of the rooms have names. The only way to identify yours is by a small number etched near the door knobs.  As you also can’t lock your door we were a bit afraid of barging into an occupied room and finding someone in flagrante as was. After a bit of trundling around we finally found the right bit again and dumped our bags.

Cameras out and we were off to explore the chateau.  

Basically if it didn’t have a no entry or private sign on the door then you’re free to roam at will ... and we did!  The basement and first two floors have been renovated, leaving the top three floors still undergoing work.

The basement has that wonderful homey kitchen plus other more functional rooms like storage etc, the ground floor is full of lounge, sitting, dining and banquet rooms and the first level and a mezzanine floor house the bedrooms.  

Most of the walls in the ground and first levels have been covered with fabric panels of silk brocade, finished with a cornice of silk tassels.  Candelabras adorn every ceiling, stylised candle wall lights, gilded mirrors, old oil paintings, dark antique furniture with plush cushions, vases of flowers, portraits and cabinets bursting with silverware and crystal stemware fill every room. Oh and or course, there is an awful lot of taxidermy on display.  

In the entrance hall are many animals, including a lion, and one room we found was literally stuffed to the gills with all manner of beast and bird.  Foxes, wolves, birds, a wildebeest head, a baby elephant and even a giraffe!  All seemed a bit odd to us, but apparently a lot of these chateaus were originally hunting lodges so there is rhyme and reason to the display of deceased animals! 

As pretty much nothing is open in the village during the holidays, Fabienne the head gardener / chef let us book for dinner at the Chateau tonight - as you like.  At 8pm we poked around downstairs until we found the dining room, set-up with a table for four, decorated with glam linen, gold plates, candles and all the trimmings.  

Shortly we met the other couple who were staying at the Chateau – Jamie and Melissa – Canadians, now living in America, who were on their belated honeymoon.  Both friendly but boy was Melissa a talker and I’ve never seen someone eat so slowly in my life!  

Dinner started with a salad of artfully arranged egg quarters, pamplemousse (grapefruit) and avocado on a bed of lettuce, followed by steak with vegetables and rice for me, fish for Jeff, a cheese course of smelly cheese, and finally a tarte tattin for dessert!  Accompanied by french bread and wines along the way.  Full as a goog after this fine repast!  

11:30pm by now (that’s the slow talking Melissa for you) and very, very sleepy so off to our tower bedroom.  Sunk into that beautifully soft bed feeling like “the Princess and the Pea”.
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