Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Leaving Chinon and the Loire

CHINON - a place to return - Goodbye Chinon till next time.

Sue said, "Can we return one day" and we did in 2010 just to say hello and we return to stay with our hosts next year. Chinon is a place to return, many times in a lifetime.

It was a little sad leaving Chinon – it entered our hearts as a place we would like to return to (and we did). Our hosts, Helene and Jean-Micheal were really lovely people and their little French Bulldog was a delight.

Our next stop was Le Mans so that I could see the motor museum on the racetrack. I can’t remember the route but it was most probably by passing Tours and directly onto Le Mans so I could have some time meandering around the museum. It was a good thing that we did leave early because as we drew closer to Le Mans, the highway became more and more populated by motorcyclists. As we drove down Mulsanne where the big Bentleys and later the D-type Jaguars won the 24 hour Enduro event, we felt that we were accompanied by a swarm of bees around us. It was in fact the coming weekend of the Le Mans motorcycle Grand Prix. Unbeknown to us at the time of booking our accommodation, we were now in the midst of this annual event.
The Blower Bentley's won Le Mans 5 times 1924/27/28/29/30. I read the book of Tim Birkin, Bentley driver of the era when I was younger. It was a dream to drive down Mulsanne on the Sarthe Le Mans 24 hour circuit one day. Although we couldn't get the the museum due to the Moto GP, I realised and fantasized that I was driving down Mulsanne in a Blower Bentley - OK, in reality it was a Citroen C4 and don't call me Walter Mitty.
When we arrived at our hotel, we discovered that our 89 Euro room was 5 flights of steps at the top of the building. The shower was previously a wardrobe and the toilet seat kept falling off from its hinges. The Museum was closed due to the Motorcycle Grand Prix so after a cup of coffee and much deliberation we decided to return to the hotel and and tell the concierge that we would prefer to move on. I’m sure he was rubbing his hands with glee so he could charge some GP fans twice the amount.

About 50 kms up the road was Alencon and Normandy. For the first time on our trip, we didn’t have a pre-booked room for the night. It was a gamble but there was no way were going stay in a cramped 5th floor dog box in Le Mans.

First stop in Alencon was the Tourist Information centre where the helpful lady secured what seemed to be the last hotel room in the town. Even Alencon was full of motorcyclists. After securing our accommodation for the night, a delightful, clean anywhere in the world motel room, we ventured into the streets of Alencon.
What a delightful town it was. We even did some souvenir shopping for family at home.

A little shopping for gifts in Alencon.
We had no knowledge of its rich history at the time but since researching Alencon while writing this blog, I learned that the town was invaded by William the Conqueror in 1047.
That night we ventured down to a small bistro within the Hotel for dinner – we were too tired and depressed after the Le Mans thing. The meal although not memorable was fun as the proprietor made us welcome and even managed to put a smile on our faces. We returned in the morning for breakfast not realizing that it was Mother’s Day.

It would have been rewarding to have spent more time in Alencon considering that it was only just by chance that we discovered it. A disappointment turned into a little adventure that was totally unplanned.

Entering Normandy, we were greeted by fields of poppies.
But leave we had to as we were booked for a night Arromanches, one of the sights of the D-Day Landings.
However on the way, Sue had a childhood dream to see the Bayeux Tapestry.


  1. Oh! those beautiful red poppies - makes me want to pack my bags and head right on back!

  2. Dianne, you must plan your next trip immediately. Those poppies actually followed us from Provence to Normandy that year but to me poppies are something we associate with the north due to rememberance day.


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