Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rambling to (and around) Le Loire

Big day driving today. Lots of tolls equals stops to pick up tickets issued from automatic dispensers at random spots along the tollway and money drops at equally random exit points. The last one blew us away since both credit cards were rejected and all we had was a 50 euro not to cover a 12 euro fare. Imagine the trepidation of sliding the 50 euros into the note-receptical. Doesn't matter.

It turns out that you DO get change, but not in crisp notes. [Remember that we are sitting in a queue of impatient French tollway drivers, whose very existence turns upon their access to the tollway payment station for which we are the sole inhabitants, thus preventing their egress.]. You get change in 1-euro coins. Ching-ching-ching-ching-ching! Down pours the change in a cascade of chinging similar only to a win at the pokies at the Casino or the SS&A club. Fist-fulls of euros are retrieved before the way can be cleared and the traffic can flow. Such are the trevails of the inexperienced French tollway Ramblers.

It really was an eventless trip across La Belle France, but it did take all of 5.5 hours of travel, plus stops. We eventually arrived at our chateau in Esvres in good time for a wonderful dinner experience with our friends Andy and Grazyna and four new Best Friends.

Adrian and Joke ("Y-oak-e") - Dutch nationals - own the chateau where the meal was served. We four (Andy & Graz, Jude & I) inhabit the gate-keeper's cottage a few metres away. "Radar" (that is how his name sounded) and Beatrice were the other two (Swedish) guests who had rooms in the main chateau).

This was a meal to remember forever, with wonderful food served with matching wine and careful explanations/descriptions of both wine and food, interspersed with anecdotes and stories from all thereuntofore assembled. For, example, the Dutch Adrian and Joke described the process/problems associated with buying the chateau. It seems that it is not a simple procedure, as a whole range of people have to agree with all aspects oc the sale before it can proceed. Towards the end of the negotiations Adrian chanced upon a meeting with the 'notary' (solicitor) associated with the vendor family. "No", he said, "I have not heard from the family that a price has been agreed, and by the way, they could get a mch higher price from people I know in Paris." [This following definite acceptance of the sale price agreed by Adrian with the family.]. "Yes it is," countered Adrian ...As it turned out, according to Dutch Adrian, the family accepted the figure for which they had 'signed off' and the sale went through. Things do not always proceed so smoothly, apparently however.

Today was spent hurtling off to another market in another lovely Loire town down the road ('Amboise'). Another market (avec mattress man) produced another set of wonderful culinary and shopping delights. We bought a ready-cooked roast rabbit for dinner and a 'grande' paella for lunch.

A real highlight of the whole trip was a chance tour through the back garden of a lovely French lady from Paris who owned a cottage in the town. A cliff at the rear of the cottage garden contained a series of caves that had been inhabited by 'Troglodites'. These caves had been converted to modern habitable dwellings and were totally charming. The best aspect of the tour that this lady conducted (in French and English) was the obvious joy that she derived from showing her visitors around this wondrous facility. She was effusive on her descriptions of life as it had been led by these ancient people. She was generous in her sharing of her knowledge and understanding of these dwellings in her back yard. This lady even had a glass of wine for us to share at the end of her tour. ALL AT NO CHARGE!

Back at the chateau we ate our rabbit and drank our wine 'al fresco' in the little garden out the back of the gatekeeper's cottage. We flung ourselves into bed at the end of yet another day's fabulous adventures in France.

You all need to get over here some day soon, you know. There are far too many adventures to be missing out on, you know ...

Your Best Pals,

The Ramblers!


  1. Gr andJ see jens comments at the end of the last blog, We all know that pride goes before a fall and it just so happens , I thought i was getting the hang of this.Clearly not as I posted my last scathing Gr- bashing comment on the end of an OLD Blogg with OLD comments of mine attached!Where noone will ever read them and my observations willwhirl around in cyber space unread, unloved and unapprecatiated for ever.Such is life.

  2. OMG Jen, that SO did not happen! Of course I read your comments and SO enjoyed reading news from home and SO look forward to hearing more!