Friday, 31 October 2008
La Centrale Nucléaire de Civaux rushed past without a sound, and the sun seemed impatient to welcome us to the beautiful south of France.
The whole country seemed to be in harmony - et nous sommes d'un commun accord.
At Berneuil, Sabine et Jean-Marc were waiting for us beside the Route Nationale.
Quelle surprise !
The silver car stopped itself where they stood and they beamed and grinned like they'd never been taught.
We rushed to greet them and shared all our news.
They were looking for bad people and to that end we disappointed them. But we made up for it by teaching them the Aussie way of doing things and they were pleased to break the day with such a distraction.
The French are just so friendly!
And shared memories must be treasured.
And treasured they always will be.
We were now approaching Limoges, a university town in Haute-Vienne where an important member of the Académie Française once left his mark on so many.
The morning of Saturday 6 September was sombre.
We had left Gavin and Josie at le Gîte, 'Les Altéas', at Assay and would not see them again until our return home in October.
On the brighter side, there was the entire remainder of France to explore and enjoy, and more people to make and share laughter with.
Richelieu, Châtellerault and Chauvigny ont glissé sous la voiture argentée, as we sped south. Our destination was Limoges, but perhaps we could make Brive-la-Gaillarde ?
It didn't really matter.
The unexpected is always the thrill of being in France, and who cared about bothersome plans.
Spontaneity makes its own friends and binds people from the furthest reaches.
Language is simply the delicious froth that kisses one like a new flavour.
And so at Chauvigny an ice cream was ordered, just in case we were captured by the Gendarmerie or had to kiss anyone who's temperature was perfectly normally French.
Good thinking !
Thursday, 30 October 2008
The drive to our next destination was only 50 kilometres, but too much agreeable time had slipped by.
Parking the silver car, we found Azay-le-Rideau to be such a really pretty little town. We dashed towards the Château.
Sadly we had arrived too late.
Tout était fermé !
Not to be disheartened we walked the gorgeous streets admiring all we saw.
We entered Rue Balzac and gazed like kids in a big city, at all the little boutiques and their windows.
The neat and tidy pride in this village was so evident.
The wafting odour of the evening fare was drifting surreptitiously yet beckoningly from cute little restaurants dotted around the rue.
One didn't need to make a selection; one just followed one's nose; and follow - we did.
Patrick and Hugo at la Crédence were wonderfully welcoming.
We chattered like twopenny books about how bad Gavin's French was, and how good mine was.
Or was it the other way around !!!
No matter, we again felt totally indulged by our gracious hosts and spent hours laughing and eating, and drinking and laughing.
We all promised to return one day, and that's a promise that we will all look forward to honouring.
Pour les meilleurs Entrées, Plats du Jour, Soupes, Salades, Tartes et Patisseries, vous aimerez ce restaurant.
La Crédence est ouverte du mercredi au dimanche midi, sur réservation de préférence.
Ouvert tous les jours en Juillet et en Aôut, de 11h à 21h.
15 et 17 rue Balzac, 37190, Azay-le-Rideau. Téléphone 02 47 73 80 33.
Merci Patrick et Hugo, - À bientôt !
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
Even though the day was a little rainy, at Amboise, we were fulfilled.
What we had seen and what remained to be seen was so typical of the traveller's dichotomy.
Again, it was quantity versus quality and we had not seen Leonardo di Vinci's former residence. Then, - there's always next time !
We needed to fly. And fly we did,- to Azay le Rideau, but not before taking some rooftop shots of beautiful Amboise and the Loire that lay below us.
Monday, 27 October 2008
Amboise, située sur les bords de la Loire, was our next stop.
Not only was Amboise home to Léonard da Vinci in the final days of his life, between 1516 and 1519 but also home to the Royal court of France.
Le Château d'Amboise was however, our destination and with the rain refusing to dampen our enthusiasm we crossed the Loire and walked to the rue principale, lined with lovely timbered houses, cafes and colour everywhere.
It's wonderful being a tourist in France; every corner reveals a little more of the surprises and secrets that this country offers.
Gavin and I were arguing in French; or rather, I was correcting everything he said and he was doing the same. Just as we always do in French class back home.
Marie-Thérèse would have sent us to the 'le directeur' for a belting !
The Château d'Amboise was enormous and we headed off in nine different directions, trying not to act like Aussies in France ?
I found the rooftops and the others found les chambres. We kept crossing paths and tried to look French, - which I'm sure we did.
We had really got the hang of it.
Sunday, 26 October 2008
Saturday, 25 October 2008
The morning of Friday 5 September had been enthusiastically awaited by Gavin and I for many months. We were to drive to the Châteaux de Chenonceau on the Cher, Amboise on the Loire, and Azay-le-Rideau on an island in the Indre.
The architecture and history of all les Châteaux de la Loire et ses alentours, make fascinating reading which can be spread over a lifetime of study, or less, if you want a Wikipedia overview.
From our gîte in Assay we drove through marvellous and lush agricultural countryside through Champigny-sur-Veude, L'Île Bouchard and Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine.
At Manthelan we paused for a café and a chance to walk around, to soak in the atmosphere of another picturesque, small ville.
After passing through Bléré, le Château de Chenonceau was truly magnificent.
Les jardins de Catherine de Médicis et Diane de Poitiers were brilliant also.
Time was our oppressor.
With time running out we felt negligent for not have planned more time at each stop; - a feeling that would pervade us all the way through the country until we sadly departed the south of France.
Travelling is always a fine balance between quality and quantity; - as I was rapidly discovering.
My next trip to France will concentrate on the former.
À ce beau pays et aux personnes chauleureuses et généreuses que j'ai rencontrés, je suis vraiment redevable.