10 days down and 10 to go. Hard to believe we are 1/2 way through the holiday. And that would also make it 10 days of rain as well. Today was the best day i.t.o. weather though as it only rained for about 2-3 minutes this morning while driving (but it did still rain).
We left Amboise this morning at about 9:45am and planned to find a supermarket to buy some breakfast to avoid eating pastries for the 4th consecutive morning. I was longing for cereal and I never eat cereal even at home. We checked out and set out seeking the supermarket. What we discovered was that not only were all supermarkets closed on Sundays but also that someone came and stole all the supermarkets on Sunday night leaving none in France. We drove until about 11am along the Loire River until we eventually found a supermarket and bought what turned out to be brunch. We found a pull off place to eat alongside the Loire River though you couldn’t see the river and there was no table. We are good improvisers though (see our cheese board).
And yes that is a Brie. That would be our second brie that we have eaten since we are here. They are ridiculously cheap (cheaper than SA) and really creamy and delicious. (And yes Bryan and Sharon – you can see Lara is wearing her own clothes for a change.)
After our brunch was consumed we headed for Chateau de Chambord. It is probably the most recognizable Chateau from France and is the largest in the Loire Valley (and Helen told me from her reading of the Frommers Guide that the Loire Valley is know for its Chateau’s). It was built in the 16th century (that is the 1500s for those of you like me that aren’t clever enough to figure that out). It was built by Francois I as a hunting lodge (supposedly) but who builds a hunting lodge like this (see pic). It was actually because he wanted to be closer to his mistress (like most Frenchmen) and for him to go somewhere outside of Paris in the summer. It is massive and has a unique feature in that it is a double staircase. It is possible to walk up (or down) and not see someone going in the opposite direction. We tried and we almost lost Lara (I did say almost Sharon).
The Chateau has so many rooms that they cannot fill them with items from the correct period. They have two floors with the appropriate furnishings and paintings (including ones of Louis XIV, Louis XV, Louis XVI and Charles X). Then there were a whole lot of ugly paintings of the all the woman of the same period (I am amazed they managed to procreate). Either the artists were terrible or French woman have improved in looks over the centuries. Unfortunately, they don’t have sufficient items to fill the top floor so they have filled it with a modern art exhibition. Totally ridiculous. Out of place. What were they thinking?! They would have been better off leaving the top floor empty. I was of a mind to ask for our entrance fee back. Fortunately we hadn’t had to pay for anyone under 18 (and it didn’t even matter what nationality you were and I am pretty sure that it was the same for the Abbey – my guilt has been lifted).
Once we were ‘Chateau’d out’ we programmed the GPS for Fontainebleau. And immediately we ignored it as it tried to take us through all the back routes. We did the amazing thing of following signposts and knocked about 20 minutes off the projected time of arrival by doing that. I am hoping it will do a better job tomorrow of directing us into Paris as I think it could in handy then.
We came to Fontainebleau as it is the home of INSEAD. This is the business university I studied at in 2007 for a month and in fact when I started writing daily blogs of my trips away. It is therefore the birth place of today’s modern blog that you are reading right now. It has historical significance in the Temple family and therefore is a must visit when in France. We are staying right in the centre of the town at Hotel Napolean. Not surprisingly there is a painting of him in reception. I took the family down to see INSEAD. They complained all the way there (only a kilometer walk). They doubted I knew the way, they questioned whether I remembered where I was going, they asked if they should get a map (oh wait … those are all the same things …) I proved them all wrong and took them for a walk around the campus pointing out the important aspects, the canteen, recreation area, gym etc. And I showed them the hotel/residence I stayed in and even pointed out my room. They didn’t seem impressed. I will have to take them back again tomorrow morning to impress it upon them some more.
Helen and I then did the French thing and sat at a sidewalk cafe and had drinks and watched the passing people carrying their baguettes. Seriously everyone in France must carry a baguette. It is like an ID or drivers license which you must have with you at all times. Except in France it is a Baguette. You don’t want to get stopped by someone you know and they discover you don’t have a Baguette with you. That would be shameful. Helen and I felt quite naked without one. Our nervousness might have been from that or the fact that we seemed to be sitting next to the local drug pushers in town. They seemed to know everyone and kissed everyone (they were men and they kissed men) and were all carrying man bags (we reckon were the drugs were stashed). They were gone before we came back for dinner.
Tomorrow is our last day on the road. As from tomorrow we are in Paris for 5 nights so watch out for the daily update from Paris – the City of Romance!