Monday, March 29, 2010

Three Days with Friends in the Loire

My apologies for a long blog this time around - with three days without internet access, the experiences multiplied.

Remember those oysters at Montparnasse - NOT a good idea. More about that later.

We decided on staying at Montparnasse as it was close to the station for the TGV taking us to Tours. The TGV or fast train travels at speeds in excess of 300 kms. As we were sitting in the carriage we were unaware of the speed as it is quiet and smooth. It’s not until you see a motorway beside you that you realise the speed. Cars travelling on the motorway have a speed limit of 130 kph and we are leaving them behind as if they were travelling at only 60 kph.

It wasn't long before we found ourselves walking out from the Tours station and on our way to the Hotel Du Manoir at 2 rue Traversiere. Well worth the stay with an excellent breakfast and marvelous hosts. If ever in Tours, book in.

The breakfast room - Monsieur makes an excellent apple crumble.

On arriving at Tours the first thing we saw was a sign at the concert hall advertising the "Australian Pink Floyd Show". The tribute band had travelled a long way.

We located our hotel, unpacked and decided to explore the old city of Tours. Most of the grand cities have preserved a section of the early parts of their cities. You just have to find them.
Tours is part of the Indre et Loire department with a population of over 400,000. It is famous for its wines, the battle of Tours in 732, and of course the Paris-Tours classic road race which was first run in 1896. In 1906 it became an annual event for professionals and is considered a “Sprinters Classic” due to the flat terrain.
Pretending to read the sports pages at lunch - bit like reading the Herald-Sun really (a Leon OZ joke)
From Wikipedia
In Gallic times the city was important as a crossing point of the Loire. Becoming part of the Roman Empire during the first century AD, the city was named "Caesarodunum" ("hill of Caesar"). The name evolved in the 4th century when the original Gallic name, Turones, became first "Civitas Turonorum" then "Tours". It was at this time that the amphitheatre of Tours, one of the five largest in the Empire, was built. Tours became the metropolis of the Roman province of Lugdunum towards 380-388, dominating the Loire Valley.

Tours Cathedral
Half wooded house of Tours old centre.

Being tired from the long walk we decided to purchase a bottle of Chinon Rouge - at the time we didn’t consider that this would be our dinner. We were too tired to go out for dinner.

Many of the half wooded commercial establishments would have wood carvings of the produce that we were associated with. Wild boar, fish or vegetables for example.

Through an open gateway while walking the old centre.

Our Korean Chevrolet - What am I looking at? Amazing what you find while "Slow Travelling".
A Prieure du Lauroux under restoration.
Next morning was the grand adventure in picking up our hire car and taking in the Loire countryside to visit friends met and unmet. The first stop was the village of Le Grand-Pressigny. Why? Well we read a blog by Jean who has a holiday home there and her stories intrigued us so much that we thought it would be worth a look.

It is a lovely village with great history.
Feeling a little peckish, we stopped in the village square where the travelling Foodies sell their wares. There was the usual French fare, pate, a multitude of cheeses, various sausage of duck, pork, rabbit meats.
As we left this smallish village we passed by the sports ground where I said to Sue, “I’m sure I saw and old Velodrome to the right.” I had to turn back and there it was, a flattish velodrome that had seen better days.
Couldn't help myself - finding a velodrome in Le Grand-Pressigny is like finding one in Poowong Gippsland Victoria. Come to think of it, Poowong may have had one once.

Next stop was Preuilly Sur Claise to visit Bloggers as yet unmet - how does this happen you ask. Well I read this blog regularly of an Australian couple who lived in the UK and then decided to purchase a property in the Loire to restore. One day they blogged on their 1953 Citroen Traction Avant, Celestine. Having own several of these in my past, I made comment that we would be in France and could we visit. On exchange of gifts, Simon and Susan took us for an enjoyable drive through the undulating roads and through several little Loire villages after they offered us lunch.

Simon and Susan's Celestine emerged from her covers and shed to brave the rain over the underlating hills of Preuilly sur Claise.

Look what just popped up during our little drive.

Back into La Petite (female???) Chevrolet  it was time to make our way to our hosts for the next two days. We met Carol and Mikee last year when we rented their stone cottage in Thenay. They jokingly suggested that we could come and take care of their cats next time they went on holiday. When we said we were returning to say Bonjour, they wouldn't hear of us staying anywhere but with them. It was actually Bonsoir as we arrived late arvo!

The home of our warm hosts Carol and Mikee. Many thanks and apologies for the oyster thing. I missed enjoying Carol's wonderful cooking.

On arrival I was starting to feel a little off-colour but thought it was jet-lag and general tiredness. It wasn’t till almost dinner was about to be served that I realised that I was really feeling ill. Next thing I knew my head was in toilet bowl.

Yes, it was the oysters from Montparnasse.

Having partially recovered the next morning, we took a drive to Saint Aignan for coffee and lunch with another friend met from last year. Walt is an ex-pat American living in St Aignan sur Cher.
We never really explored the village on our visit last year so we had a quick tour in the car due to heavy rain before meeting Walt.

Saint Aignan and the Chateau from across the Cher river.

Meeting Walt again over lunch at a little restaurant called le Mange-Grenouille was most enjoyable and our friends, Carol and Mikee had the opportunity to meet him as well. They only live across the Cher from each other and had never met, yet Carol follows both Walt and Ken’s blogs and felt that she almost knew them. The power of the internet.
Walt in his Walt T-shirt taken by Walt for Walt's Blog - a gift from us. Check out Wlat's blog and you'll see what I mean - it's linked to ours in the sidebar. You'll enjoy his great photos and whimsical humour.

Carol, Mikee, Sue and Leon - taken by Walt and stolen from his Blog site. Thanks Mate.

The next morning saw us packing La Petite Chevrolet and heading back to Tours and on the TGV back to Paris for our two weeks in the 2e. I must admit I’m missing my bike so to my cycling friends, I promise some experiences of riding in Paris traffic, Paris parks and hopefully that Paris velodrome.

Just an arty-farty pic that appealed at the time.....


  1. Glad to hear that you have recovered Leon and also that it won't be necessary for my Solicitor to contact you!!!!!!! Wish you would come again soon when you are feeling better, we loved having you here.

    Have a good holiday

    Carol & Mikee

  2. lovely pics Leaping. Looking forward to paris by velo.

  3. Hi Leon,

    Yes it is me, envious of your wonderful adventures. Love the pics.

    Stay safe and have a red for me.

    Regards to Sue,


  4. Had a great time! Thanks!


  5. Happy 60th Birthday, Leon!! (Mike Goldie blogged yesterday that your birthday was coming up ...)

    Hopefully you're feeling better after those bad oysters a few days ago, and you have a great birthday overseas.


  6. Gorgeous old car Leon & Sue!!! :-)
    And loved the arty farty pic too ;-)
    Hope you're feeling much better now :-)

  7. Carol - you have been absolved of any suspicion of food poisoning - also keep an eye on the post in the next week.

    Kiwi and Fitzy - good to have you on board.

    Penny - what a surprise, thanks for your good wishes.

    Hi to Ell and WCS

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