Leaving Paris took a lot of effort for an invalid but the day started pretty relaxed since we had pretty much packed all our bags the night before. We left our apartment around 10:30am on schedule and walked our way slowly down to the Metro station. I was being particularly careful this was the first time I had carried my heavy pack since my ankle accident. We had a few stairs to navigate to get on line 5 and then a few more to change over to line 6 that took us to Gare Montparnasse. I expected it to be reasonably easy to find the Sixt car rental office but Gare Montparnasse was no small train station and it took us an hour or so just to locate the office. Pretty tired we dragged ourselves in to the office to do the paper work. We were in for a shock! Our car rental did not include any insurance at all so that meant we would be up for the full replacement for the car if it was stolen or written off. It was already expensive enough but now to have insurance, still with an 800 euro excess, it was going to cost us an extra 614 euros! It took a while to digest this but we reluctantly agreed to it. I will have to be more careful next time to check the rental includes insurance!
So into the car park we headed to find our car and in the designated park was a work van … our car was missing. After hunting through the car park in search of the correct number plate we found it … located in the parking space that belonged to a competing rental car company. With some magic packing skills I loaded the car being pleasantly surprised that we fitted everything, except one carry on case, in the boot. Soon I was behind the wheel driving out of the car park into the streets of Paris. Not long later we were stationary again trying to figure out which direction we should be heading. All I knew was that I didn’t want to continue toward the Eiffel Tower – we were supposed to be going south away from Paris. It was a little hair-raising but eventually we got out of Paris and found our way to a tiny rural community of Le Coudray, about 20 minutes from Ambroise in the heart of castle land. The delay getting out of Paris meant we didn’t arrive until around 6pm so we were all tired, my foot was aching from the drive, and we still had to find a supermarket. Surprisingly it took us an hour to unload and explore our farm cottage so by the time we went on our way to find the nearby town of Loches with a supermarket it was getting late. The supermarket we wanted to go to was located just on the other side of Loches however on our arrival at 7:30pm we found it had just closed. Frantically we drove back into town in search of another supermarket. It was also about to close by the time we got there so we just grabbed what we needed for dinner and breakfast and then were on our way again.
It was such a late night again that the next day, Thursday, didn’t start for us until about 10am. First on the agenda was maths for the kids while I caught up on my blog writing. School was short because we wanted to head back into Loches to the supermarket again and then to explore the area. Shopping took so long we weren’t home again until mid-afternoon! With much effort we forced ourselves back out and drove to Montresor via the village of Genille. We had a pleasant walk around a few streets in Montresor and the remains of a castle.
On Friday we started early as we wanted to get to Chateau De Chenonceau as soon as it opened at 9am in order to beat the tour bus crowds. I had checked on TripAdvisor and everyone gave Chenonceau an excellent rating but most complained about the crowds. We arrived just a few minutes past 9am and had a great run of the castle with just the right number of other visitors to allow us to move around uncrowded and take some good photos. The audio (and video) was pretty good, the first time we have had an iPod app to be our tour guide. Here is Chenonceau:
Chenonceau looks impressive to me because it stretches over the river. In fact I think the outside of the chateau and the gardens are what makes it stand out to me over the others in this region. At 54 euros entrance fee for us all we could only visit one and this was it. Chenonceau dates back to around the 1500’s. It was built by Thomas Bohier and his wife Katherine Briconnect and later acquired by King Henri II, ??? In 1547 King Henri II gave it to his mistress Diane De Poitiers and under her care the gardens were designed and the bridge was built over the river. On King Henri II’s death his wife Catherine de’ Medici booted Diane out (understandably) and governed France from Chenonceau. In 1576 under Catherine’s rule the gallery was built on Diane’s bridge.
I will resist saying any more about Chenonceau except two things which stood out to me. Firstly I thought the initials of Catherine and Henri all around the place was a great design feature. Catherine’s consisted of two intertwined “C”’s and in some places the C’s and Henri’s H overlap each other:
I also liked the kitchen area. It amazed me that you can cook for a king on an open fire place – I have enough trouble with an electric oven …
As you can see by the photo below the bedrooms were grand:
After Chenonceau we drove to Ambroise where we ate lunch, walked around the streets, and had an expensive cappuccino.
The next day being Saturday we were off again heading back up north to Moyon nr near Mont St. Michel.
(Week 28B: Wednesday, 29 August 2012 – Saturday, 1 September 2012)