Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Leaving Thenay and the Loire Valley

It was Saturday May 16, 2009 and the end of our week in the Loire. It's strange that after one week anywhere during our travels we call each place "Ours" but the cottage in Thenay was very much like that. Maybe it was the friendship we formed with its owners, Carole and Michael. It was also when we met fellow Bloggers Ken and Walt, oh yes, and Callie. Is she really five years old now?

The car was packed the night before and the cottage had been cleaned. We jumped out of bed at 7.30 am excited about our continued journey. Carole and Michael arrived at 8.30 am seemingly surprised to see that we we all organised and ready to depart. So after much chit chat, hugs and waves, we were off to our first stop along the way to our overnight stay. That first stop was Valencay because there was a car museum that I wanted to see and (not!!!) another chateau that Sue wanted to see.

Valencay complete with piped classical music as we strolled the gardens.
Look out any window - was that a Hollies song?

Love the house but who did the vacuuming?

Time for a little snooze!

I'm not sure that Valencay as a town has much more to offer than its Chateau and the car museum. "The Rough Guide to the Loire" book confirmed this and the DK travel guide didn't even include it. The Chateau like many in the Loire was developed over the centuries with the different owners. Valency Chateau was established by the d'Estampes family in 1540 but not completed until the 18th century. One of the owners was Napoleon's foreign minister, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand - Perigord. The Rough Guide says that Napoleon described this great Diplomat as "shit in a silk stocking". Napoleon suggested to Talleyrand that he should entertain King Ferdinand VII of Spain at Valency after his abdication. This little residency at Valencay lasted for six years until the Treaty Of Valencay was signed and Ferdinand returned to Spain and his throne.
It is well worth Googling Talleyrand's history - an amazing opportunist was he.

We quite enjoyed the wander around the grounds of the Chateau on a particularly pleasant spring morning, made all the more pleasant with piped classical music throughout the grounds. Again we seemed to be joined by only a few other visitors to the Chateau. Sue could have continued looking around the grounds and the interior of the chateau longer but I was getting edgy - I knew that the car museum would close at lunch time and I would miss the window of opportunity. The French do love their two hour lunch time, don't they?

Traditional French Blue - such a pretty colour on a French car.

I really have a soft spot for Reggie Renaults - my first car was the Dauphine.

The Renault Floride behind the vintage bike also spent time in our driveway at one time.

Citroens also graced our driveway and garages over the years - I always mist up with regret when I think of our past Citroen Tractions.
Bikes and cars - what a great museum. I would recommend it to any enthusiast.
I think I enjoyed the car museum as much as Sue enjoyed the Chateau, that's not to say that I didn't enjoy the Chateau but really there are so many in the Loire and very few car museums - plus this museum also had vintage and classic bicycles. All manner of enamelled signs hung from the ceiling and on the walls. Catalogues and other printed matter were on view of the many cars and bikes with accessories such as goggles, driving gloves, etc.
We'd been to a few car museums in our travels through France and I thought this to be just one step below the one at Chatellerault which to my mind was excellent. Valencay's museum though had a more casual and less commercial feel about it. Needless to say, the clock struck noon and we were unceremoniously ushered out the door.

We were starting to feel a little peckish anyway and we did have some further driving ahead of us. So back into the car and down the road we headed with no idea where lunch would be. Most times lunch will find us and on this occasion it was at the little village of Vatan which is bypassed by the L'Occitane highway.
During 2009, the Tour de France passed by and there were several indications of this that I'd missed until we were seated in a small cafe about to eat. There on the wall was painted some crude attempt to illustrate the town's pride of being part of Le Tour. We selected this eating establishment literally by following the locals to lunch. It was a real find. As usual I consulted our diary to see what we ate - Sue being a real foodie made a point of documenting what we eat during our travels. It seems that on occasions I get a little adventurous on holiday. I selected the Langue de Boef with frites or TONGUE with chips. My mother use to cook it when I was a child.
Sue had an assiete of potato galette and ham and egg pie. Boring and unadventurous was she with her choice.......

Vatan - so proud to be a starting point for Le Tour in 2009.

Every window seemed to have some sort of celebration.
 We moved on after lunch with the drive to our overnight stay just below Sancerre, a place called Saint Satur where our hotel sat by the river. Our hotel had a very African theme and from memory I think our room was decorated with all manner of Giraffes. After booking in we decided to drive up to Sancerre. It was Sue's wish to sit with a glass of Sancerre Blanc in Sancerre. The hilltop village has a charm of its own and several hours can be spent exploring the narrow streets and the many shops that cater for the tourists. After all why not, that's what keeps its economy going - along with its famous wines.

The river flowing by our overnight stay near Sancerre.

Looking down from Sancerre. In the very left lower corner can be seen a great aqueduct that you drive under to the village of Saint Satur on the river.

Sue fulfilled her wish to sip Sancerre Blanc in Sancerre - a few days later she would chuck down a Chablis in Chablis and a Burgundy in Burgundy. She's yet to have a Vouvray in Vouvray - maybe in May - a Vouvray in May, I like the sound of that. 
Tell me, do people hide when we enter villages - I think we might be getting a complex, but it is nice to not be surrounded by too many people.
It had been another long day and we had to find a place for dinner. A short walk from our hotel we found a pleasant restaurant - can't remember the food but naturally it was enjoyed with the local wine. Maybe we were just too tired after a long day.
We were now well and truly on our way out of the Loire and off to our next overnight stay in Auxerre.

A daily photograph of France at http://frenchtravelswithmywife.blogspot.com.au/


  1. I'm suprised that you were allowed to take your camera into Valençay castle and shoot photos. When we were there in 2008 we were reprimanded by a staff member simply for carrying a (flash-less) pocket camera. We managed to make some photos from the kitchen set-ups though, hoping that there were no hidden cameras filming us.

  2. Nigel assures me that the Hollies song is 'Look Through any Window'
    I know what you mean about people hiding. I often take photos of villages without seeing a soul but then I usually arrive around 12h00 and everyone is at lunch! Your photo does not look like that is the problem or they would be at the tables!!
    Another great post with lots of info. I love the vintage cars and bikes. I have tried so hard to convince Nigel to get a tandem so he would not have to wait for me any more but he says he could never balance!! Diane

  3. Martine - No one even approached us as my camera hung around my neck. I didn't even see signs say that photo were verboten. Such a shame as it is a very photographic chateau.

  4. A very well informed man that Nigel of yours - so right he is. He like me bought the 45 True?. Sue also says she can't balance on the bike but I did take her out on a tandem thrashing thru the local traffic and she would never get back on. As a young lad I raced tandems on the steeply banked velodromes - much fun.

  5. Walt - A Vouvray in May! Yay! I'll say!

  6. I have been very busy at work. I am just taking a quick tour of my favorite blogs.

  7. A vouvray in May ...that you must do Sue! At present I'm reading a book set in the Loire ...what a stunning area.

  8. Nadege - We've been desperately missing you. Welcome back to comments.
    Hope you are well and ejoying life with not too much work stress.
    Found any more interesting blogs for us to investigate?

  9. Dianne,
    You must pass on the book title, Sue would like to know. It is a stunning area made all the more so by the people we have met there. This trip we are calling our "Hello again" trip.

  10. Another great virtual tour, I bet the car museum was a highlight for you Leon.

  11. LLM,
    Thanks for your comment - yes the car museum was a highlight but so was the Chateau.
    The Loire has much to offer.


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