A Travellerspoint blog

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San Francisco before France . . .

Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016


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Up early to finish packing and eat breakfast. Fed our kitty, Mimi, and got her things ready. Kelly will come this afternoon so Mimi has the house to herself until then.

Flying over Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery

Flying over Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery


We couldn’t check in last night because we don’t have a smart phone which seemed to be a requirement of United Airlines! So . . . we left early to have plenty of time to check in. Traffic was thick from Sacramento to San Francisco so it took two and a half hours to get to Peg’s. Transferred luggage to her car and she drove us to the BART station. Our new Clipper Cards worked and we managed seats on the train. It’s a long ride to the airport but comfortable enough.

*****

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At the airport we remembered to swipe our Clipper cards again and then found United Airlines check-in. It’s all automated but it worked and we got boarding passes and checked our bags. It looked like Gate 92 so we started looking for lunch . . . not an easy task. We finally found a deli-type sandwich place since we didn’t see anything else. It was okay and the gals who worked there were really nice.

*****

Flying over downtown San Francisco

Flying over downtown San Francisco


Found our gate and we wait . . .

Posted by Beausoleil 15:40 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Landing in Paris and driving to the Loire

Wednesday, September 7, 2016 (Jean's birthday)


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The Eiffel Tower from the plane

The Eiffel Tower from the plane


Got on the plane, were seated and sat the better part of the next eleven hours until we landed at CDG forty minutes early. Luggage was delayed so in the end, we weren’t really early. I put my French SIM card in my phone at SFO so when we landed, I immediately called TT Car who picked us up at Terminal 1, Gate 2. We checked out our leased Peugeot 208 and left in search of gas. We finally found a gas station and got on the A104 toward Lyon trying to avoid the Paris Peripherique. New GPS, confusing trip and I gave up, got out our own Garmin GPS and set it for Rebecca & Phillip's. That worked and when we got completely clear of Paris, I finally figured out the Peugeot GPS. Nothing like new electronics and jet lag . . . interesting combination.

*****

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We drove right to Sackers not even stopping for lunch and had fun catching up with them. Philip went to the train station to get Laura from school so we met her again. Ten years bring major changes to a five-year-old! She is a lovely young woman now. Basil, their little dog, is still here and as cute as ever. I got pictures for Peg. She absolutely loved Basil. Rebecca took us to our B&B room and it is lovely. We rented their gite for a month years ago with Peg. This time we're headed west and are only staying a few days so decided to try the B&B option. Good choice! This is such a lovely place. [Domaine de la Chapelle, 1 route des Maugeres, 41400 Faverolles sur Cher; tel: +33 (0)2 5432-5848; Domaine de la Chapelle web site]

Basil, the Wonderdog

Basil, the Wonderdog

*****

Chateau de Montrichard

Chateau de Montrichard


Rebecca made dinner reservations for us at Hotel Bellevue this evening so we relaxed until then. Walked around Montrichard a little and I got a Daler-Rowney Sap Green tube paint at the little art store in town. I seem to be determined to try every Sap Green I can find. It amazes me they are all different. I always end up mixing them with something so probably ought to mix my greens to start but it's so much fun to try them all.

*****


Cher River from the Hotel Bellevue

Cher River from the Hotel Bellevue


Hotel Bellevue welcomed us and seated us by the window with a lovely view of the Cher river. Except for a tour group of American young women who were rather loud, it was a wonderful experience. We ordered kirs to celebrate our arrival, and the waitress brought an amuse bouche of pastry, salsa and roast pork with them. We ordered and she brought another extra course of a yummy gazpacho. Ed got the cod and I got the lamb, both cooked to perfection. We ordered dessert . . . Ed a chocolate mousse and I a white chocolate dome. When she brought out my coffee, she brought two tiny chocolate tarts and two meringues. What a meal . . . and accompanied by a nice Loire wine. [Hotel Bellevue, 24 Quai de la République, 41400 Montrichard; tel: +33 (0)2 5432-0617; fax: +33 (0)2 5432-0617; contact@hotel-le-bellevue41.com; Hotel Bellevue web site]

We should sleep well tonight!

Posted by Beausoleil 11:50 Archived in France Comments (0)

Tours and another great dinner

Thursday, September 8, 2016


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The gite across from our B and B room. We stayed there the last time.

The gite across from our B and B room. We stayed there the last time.


So quiet here. We slept like logs, didn’t even hear the alarm this morning. Fortunately, my phone alarm went off at 7:30 so we didn’t miss breakfast. We ate with a French couple and a French mother-daughter so conversation was limited but the daughter spoke a bit of English to go with our bit of French. They were from Grenoble and visiting Cheverny and Villandry while here. We love the Beaux Arts Museum in Grenoble, and we've visited both Villandry and Cheverny multiple times so had a lot to discuss. We also told them about the Garden Festival at Chaumont. My French can get me that far.

*****

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Our wifi wasn’t working last night so I tried again this morning and had no luck. Poor Philip is dealing with a broken wifi router and a running toilet but we’re having a grand time. I got all my photos on the computer and backed up, and can’t e-mail anyone which is actually kind of relaxing. I did text the kids on my phone that we arrived safely. Virtual Tourist will undoubtedly survive without me for a day. An electronic break can be a good thing. Philip and Rebecca have given us maps of Montrichard and Tours. The train leaves at 11:37 and Ed is using the house Internet right now. Basil is helping us. He’s such a cute little dog. His very curly blonde coat glows.

*****

Gare de Tours, the downtown train station

Gare de Tours, the downtown train station

We had no trouble getting train tickets to Tours. I found the ticket agent behind the station and he cheerfully gave us a senior discount without asking. The train arrived punctually and we had a choice of seats. Fifty minutes later we were in Tours looking for a restaurant. We found L’Annexe across from the Hotel de Ville and both of us got confit de canard and skipped dessert because we have to eat out again tonight. The food was fine and the service equally good. It’s a busy, fun square right across from the city hall so lots of great people watching. Rebecca had suggested we look here and it was a great idea. [L’Annexe de L’Aubrac, 9 Place Jean Jaurès, 37000 Tours; +33 (0)2 4720-6212]

L'Annexe de l'Aubrac Restaurant in Tours

L'Annexe de l'Aubrac Restaurant in Tours

Hotel de Ville (City Hall) in Tours

Hotel de Ville (City Hall) in Tours

*****

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Armed with Rebecca’s map, we walked to the Cathedral. I wasn’t really expecting much so we were delightfully surprised to find a magnificent cathedral that has been beautifully restored, and the modern touches are done with exquisite taste, especially the stained glass. It was a real thrill. The contemporary stained glass is by artist Gerard Collin-Thiebaut in close cooperation with the master glazier Pierre-Alain Parot. We also explored the attached cloister and there are some very nice views from the second story. There was also an interesting art exhibit on the upper floor of the Cloister. There is a very interesting film and information on the Cathedral if you speak French. http://www.paroisse-cathedrale-tours.catholique.fr/patrimoine-visitez-la-cathedrale/cathedrale-saint-gatien
Modern Stained Glass in St. Gatien

Modern Stained Glass in St. Gatien

Three interior photos of Cathedral St. Gatien

Three interior photos of Cathedral St. Gatien

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*****

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We walked next door to the Beaux Arts Museum and were stopped in our tracks by a 180-year-old Cedar of Lebanon in the courtyard . . . a very imposing tree. We entered the Beaux Arts and paid and spent a few hours viewing a less-than-impressive collection. There was one Monet, badly lighted, one Corot and a Rubens. Their only Rembrandt was out on loan in Paris. A disappointing museum. There is a national museum downtown that we didn’t see. Wonder what it’s like? Next trip . . .

*****

Carvings on Le Commerce Restaurant in Tours

Carvings on Le Commerce Restaurant in Tours

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Left the museum for the long hike to Place Plumereau and arrived eventually. It was packed and interesting but after taking pictures, there was nothing to hold us so we walked on and found St. Martin’s Basilique and went in. There is an amazing dome; however, a service was about to start so we left and walked in the direction of the train station. Arrived a bit early so stopped at a brasserie and had a much-needed limonade while we waited. A group taking a horse and carriage tour passed us. That looked like great fun. I got photos. Sixish we walked to the station and found our platform. Again, the train was on time and fifty minutes later we were back in Montrichard where we collected our car and set off to find parking for dinner. Carol Lynn had recommended La Villa so we decided to try that tonight.

Dome in the Basilique of St. Martin

Dome in the Basilique of St. Martin

Les Tuffeaux Restaurant in Montrichard

Les Tuffeaux Restaurant in Montrichard


No problem with parking; however, La Villa was closed on a Thursday evening for no reason we could tell. Les Tuffeaux was right there so we decided to eat there and not order the steak which had been very tough on our last trip. Good idea. We had the pork with roasted vegetables and it was excellent as was the house red wine. Had rice pudding for dessert to end a very nice meal. Our record so far is two good meals and one tough steak. We'll probably return; it seems to be improving. In all honesty, Peg got a wonderful steak there on one trip. [3 Rue Daymard on Place Barthelemy Gilbert, 41400 MONTRICHARD; tel: +33 (0)9 7035-5740 or +33(0)2 5432-6813; http://www.restaurant-montrichard.com/]

*****

Picnic on the river Cher at Montrichard

Picnic on the river Cher at Montrichard


Arrived back at the B&B to find the toilet no longer running, but still no Internet. Too tired to go up to the house so we’ll do it tomorrow. I transferred photos and it’s time to sleep! All the walking is helping a lot with jet lag. We should be fine by tomorrow.

Posted by Beausoleil 10:39 Archived in France Tagged art museums architecture cathedrals tours stained_glass Comments (4)

Amboise and the Château Chaumont Garden Festival

Friday, September 9, 2016


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Château d'Amboise from Église Saint-Denis

Château d'Amboise from Église Saint-Denis

No early breakfast at a B&B so we went over to the house at 8:30 for our morning repast. We took the computer up to the conservatory and logged onto their Internet and took care of our needs then set our GPS for Amboise. Finally contacted our next gite with our arrival time. We soon arrived in Amboise and quickly found parking. It was a market day so parking was a challenge but Ed is a master of finding places. We started for the Old Town area and quickly spotted Église Saint-Denis [9 Rue Saint-Denis, 37400 Amboise; tel: +33 (0)2 4757-6675] perched above us so we hiked up the hill to explore. It was open and lovely. As we exited, we spotted the Château d'Amboise and its magnificent Cedar of Lebanon on the hill opposite the church. What a wonderful view. Château d'Amboise web site

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We wandered through the Old Town and when we got to the Château, we started looking for a restaurant. Ed only wanted a sandwich and the restaurants wanted to serve meals so we didn’t have much luck. We ran out of downtown and started back and finally found a bar that served Croque Monsieurs. I could get a quiche so we entered. I guess Ed's sandwich was okay but all I could say for the quiche is that it was edible so I ate about half of it. We did get ice cream with it although not the flavors we actually ordered. Odd place . . . I guess there are enough tourists wanting a quick lunch that they don't go out of business. Since we're eating out again tonight, we really couldn't eat a full lunch today. This is one of the reasons we prefer renting gites to staying in B&Bs. We usually eat dinner at noon and either skip supper or have a very light picnic of bread, cheese and wine. Ed did manage to keep me out of Bigot, my favorite chocolate shop in Amboise . . .

Bigot Patissier - Chocolatier in Amboise

Bigot Patissier - Chocolatier in Amboise

Château d'Amboise

Château d'Amboise

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*****

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It was getting late and we’ve been through the very interesting Château a couple of times so we decided to go on to Chaumont to the Garden Festival. They have a different theme for the festival each year so you can go every year and see something new. No problem finding Chaumont or parking for the Festival. We paid and entered and started through the thirty-five gardens. The 2016 theme was “Gardens from the Century to Come” and it didn’t seem very inspirational to most of the gardeners. It was interesting but not nearly as colorful nor as much fun as 2006. It was also very hot this year so before we crossed the bridge to the permanent gardens, we stopped for water and ice cream. By the time we completed garden number thirty-five, I was completely wilted. Château de Chaumont Garden Festival

Château Chaumont from the Garden

Château Chaumont from the Garden

Flowers from different gardens at the festival

Flowers from different gardens at the festival

Wall of wine bottles at one garden in the Festival

Wall of wine bottles at one garden in the Festival

*****

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We drove back to our B&B to cool off a little and Ed called Hotel Bellevue for dinner reservations. We drove down to Montrichard and blessedly, he left me at the hotel door while he went in search of parking. We got “our table” by the window and started with a kir which brought on an amuse bouche. Then our waiter brought a small soup and became thoroughly confused trying to tell us what it was. I knew he said “potiron” but couldn’t remember what that was and he kept making a large circle with his hands and finally said, “Hallowe’en” and we realized it was pumpkin soup. We all learned a new word! We also discovered the head waitress speaks English when we heard her talking to a British couple a few tables away. She never did speak English to us and when we asked, told us it made her uncomfortable. I completely understand. We got the coq au vin and it was excellent, very dark and rich. It was a very good and fun meal. We got an extra amuse bouche with my coffee and neither of us could possibly eat it . . . stuffed!

Water Garden at the Chaumont Garden Festival

Water Garden at the Chaumont Garden Festival

I had leg cramps from all the walking and sweating today despite drinking as much water as I could find. We must have spent six hours walking today . . . very tired but in a good way. Tomorrow starts our western Loire adventure. Next week we have an entire château to ourselves albeit a small château .

Posted by Beausoleil 11:54 Archived in France Tagged gardens flowers chateau amboise chateaux chaumont Comments (0)

Doué-la-Fontaine and Rochemenier, a Troglodyte Village

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Driving to our new gite through rural France

Driving to our new gite through rural France

Logis Auberge Bienvenue Restaurant in Doué-la-Fontaine

Logis Auberge Bienvenue Restaurant in Doué-la-Fontaine


Up at 7:30 to figure out our route. That done, we walked over to the main house for another pleasant breakfast and then finished packing. We bade fond farewell to Philip and Rebecca and set off for Doué-la-Fontaine for lunch. We drove there with no trouble and across from the Bioparc we found the Logis de France Auberge Bienvenue Restaurant that we had chosen as our lunch stop for the day. It was new but beautifully decorated and very elegant. Most were eating out on the terrace but it was quite warm so we opted to stay inside sans sunshine. Ed got the cod and I ordered lamb. He had crème brûlée for dessert and I ordered the quenelles de chocolat that were a delight. It was a perfect lunch and perfectly served. [Logis Auberge Bienvenue, 104 Rue de Cholet, 49700 Doué-la-Fontaine; tel: +33 (0)2 4159-2244; Auberge Bienvenue web site]

*****

Rochemenier Troglodyte Village

Rochemenier Troglodyte Village


Back on the road, we drove to Rochemenier to visit the Troglodyte Village. You go down steps to enter and then go through a series of underground rooms and outbuildings that were an two farms from the 1200s to the 20th century. It is all dug out of the local sandstone . . . and was delightfully cool inside. We wandered through the whole thing and the above-ground church across the street, then since our Peugeot’s GPS wouldn’t take my coordinates, I set Garmin for our gite. [Rochemenier Troglodyte Village, tel: +33 (0)2 4159-1815; Loire-Anjou-Touraine Natural Regional Park, 14 Rue du Musée, 49700 Louresse-Rochemenier, Rochemenier Troglodyte Village web site]

Scenes from Rochemenier Troglodyte Village

Scenes from Rochemenier Troglodyte Village

Rochemenier Troglodyte Village

Rochemenier Troglodyte Village

Rochemenier Troglodyte Village

Rochemenier Troglodyte Village

Eglise Ste. Madeleine et St. Jean

Eglise Ste. Madeleine et St. Jean

*****

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We did well until an access road was barricaded for local construction. This led to an adventure across country but we arrived with two minutes to spare. The gite is a real castle, large and confusing but very nice. Our landlady and her husband don’t speak a word of English so it’s a challenge. We followed her to the local supermarket to get supplies and gas. Used GPS to get back. Had our first French picnic on the patio and unfortunately discovered their Internet does not work. We’ll deal with it tomorrow. We’re both tired and the bed looks very inviting. It may take a week to figure out the lights that are all on some sort of dimmer switch that works slowly. I'm not very patient which is a problem . . . for many reasons, but especially when waiting for a light to get brighter. We have three bedrooms, one in a tower, two full baths, living areas both up and downstairs, a pool table, foosball and a huge modern kitchen. There is a normal front staircase and a wonderful ancient stone circular staircase in the tower. Obviously this is much more than we need but it is under 500 euros for the week, and the location near Angers is perfect for our first full week. Gite Le Plessis-Grammoire web site]

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Posted by Beausoleil 12:01 Archived in France Tagged villages chateaux troglodyte Comments (1)

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