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Angers - Cathedral, Château and the Apocalypse Tapestry

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Cathédrale Saint-Maurice d'Angers

Cathédrale Saint-Maurice d'Angers

Slept til 7:30; felt good. No longer in a B&B, we’re back to cereal for breakfast, much easier on the digestion. I tried the Internet again. No luck so I sent a text message to our hosts. Obviously, I can’t e-mail them. We drove into Angers for church and discovered the parking lot we wanted was closed for a carnival. Aaaaagh! Drove around a bit and found a great parking spot right beside the Cathédrale Saint-Maurice d’Angers. The Force is with us . . . This is a much better parking place than we had planned. We also got the very last place here.

Cathédrale Saint-Maurice d'Angers

Cathédrale Saint-Maurice d'Angers

Cathédrale Saint-Maurice d'Angers

Cathédrale Saint-Maurice d'Angers


It was an hour early so we wandered around taking pictures and reading about the Cathedral restoration. Finally went inside and got interior pictures. It’s beautiful, but not quite like the spectacular church in Tours. The wood carvings here are amazing though. Definitely worth a visit for that alone, but it is a beautiful church.

People appeared and the Mass started. The song leader could have used a few music lessons, and she and the organist weren’t always on the same page, but the littlest altar boys were tiny and really cute. The church was packed. It seems to be a very active congregation.

*****

La Ferme Restaurant

La Ferme Restaurant


After church, we exited by a side door to Place Freppel and got a table on the terrace at La Ferme Restaurant. We were safely under an umbrella in case of rain and there was a wooden platform that was great for my purse, the water and a bottle of Anjou wine. We both ordered the pintade (guinea hen) with roasted vegetables and it was excellent. We got a bottle of a light red from Champigny and it was perfect for the fowl. Then came dessert . . .

Ed got the crémet d’Anjou for dessert and I ordered La « fameuse » Bouse de Vache (Grande profiterole) that was the largest profiterole I’ve ever seen. It was a mountain filled with vanilla, chocolate and coffee ice cream and drowned in dark chocolate syrup. The waiter laughed when he set it down. Ed helped me eat it, but the two of us couldn’t finish it. The man beside us got one too and it arrived just as a French tour group was passing and they all stopped to comment and joke with him. We wished him bon courage. His two daughters helped him, but they couldn’t finish either. It’s a BIG profiterole! (bouse de vache is a cow pie) The funny part is a rather small lady behind me ordered one and she actually ate the whole thing. I have no idea where she put it all as she was definitely a very petite French woman. [La Ferme, 2 Place Freppel, 49100 Angers, France; tel: +33 (0)2 4187-0990; La Ferme Restaurant web site]

La Ferme Restaurant, our wine

La Ferme Restaurant, our wine

Château d'Angers Gardens

Château d'Angers Gardens

Château d'Angers

Château d'Angers

We walked up rue St. Evrault to the château, paid and entered. We immediately walked down to the Apocalypse Gallery to see the famous Apocalypse Tapestry. There is a very good movie explaining it before you enter the gallery. The tapestry is mammoth, covering the entirety of two walls in a very long L-shaped room. It’s an amazing experience. No photos are allowed so we bought a book in the gift shop. We also bought a tapestry pillow cover of the Lady and the Unicorn to go on the new quilt we got for Peg’s former bedroom. Each of the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries depicts one of the senses so we got "hearing" since we're all musicians.

*****

Château d'Angers, La Chapelle Sainte-Geneviève Chapelle Saint Jean Baptiste

Château d'Angers, La Chapelle Sainte-Geneviève Chapelle Saint Jean Baptiste

Tower at the Château d'Angers

Tower at the Château d'Angers

Château d'Angers Chapel and Gardens

Château d'Angers Chapel and Gardens

After seeing the Apocalypse tapestry, we explored the rest of the château and walked part of the ramparts. You can see most of Angers from there and everyone is in town for the carnival and a concert by the river. It was a madhouse . . . as we discovered when we tried to leave and many roads were blocked and people were walking in the street.

*****

Cathédrale Saint-Maurice from the Château d'Angers

Cathédrale Saint-Maurice from the Château d'Angers

With the help of two GPS machines, we escaped Angers and got back to our gite where the Internet has still not been fixed and I sent yet another text message to our missing hosts. They don’t seem very Internet savvy so they may require help on Monday. I just need to reset the router if I could find it . . . Not sure how to explain that in French. Also not sure how they hid it so well, but this is a big house.

Posted by Beausoleil 15:09 Archived in France Tagged cathedrals restaurants tapestries angers Comments (0)

Château du Plessis-Bourré and Château du Lude

Monday, September 12, 2016

Château du Plessis-Bourré

Château du Plessis-Bourré

Up at 7:30 and breakfasted. Then on a search for more towels I found the wifi router inside an upstairs cabinet and unplugged and replugged it. That may solve our problems. No more towels but the house wifi was now recognized and telling me the 26-digit password is wrong. At that moment there was a knock on the door so I answered it and it was our host and hostess. I had written out in readable print what I was seeing for their password and asked them to compare to their written instructions and see what I was doing wrong. After much consultation, they determined the 26th digit was the number one, not the A I had seen and typed. It sure looked like an A. I retyped the 26-letter password for the hundredth time with the number 1 at the end and it worked. Hooray! I cleared out my mailbox, checked e-mails and noted photos from Angie, and Happy Grandparents’ Day wishes from Hunter and Piper. Checked cat sitter notes and pics of Mimi and noted I dropped from two to three on the Virtual Tourist Forum ratings, possibly because I've pretty much been offline for the last week. Oh well . . . That done, our hosts appeared with more towels and a suitable bread knife. I think we’re set.

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We headed out to Château du Plessis-Bourré, a Cinderella castle surrounded by a moat. We were a bit early so walked through the medieval gardens and then around the castle admiring views across the moat. At the appointed time, we took the obligatory tour in French; however, there was an British couple too so the guide did some translating and we had a booklet in English. The guide was excellent and the castle very interesting although we weren't allowed to take photos inside. Château du Plessis-Bourré web site

Château du Plessis-Bourré - front

Château du Plessis-Bourré - front

Château du Plessis-Bourré - back

Château du Plessis-Bourré - back

Château du Plessis-Bourré - interior courtyard

Château du Plessis-Bourré - interior courtyard

Château du Plessis-Bourré - interior courtyard

Château du Plessis-Bourré - interior courtyard

*****

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We asked our guide for a restaurant recommendation and after batting zero with the suggestion of a golf club restaurant with hamburgers, her cashier companion suggested Auberge au Relais du Plessis-Bourré in nearby Soulaire-et-Bourg. Great choice! We had a wonderful meal there. We both ordered a hot goat cheese salad, the merlu and vegetables which turned out to be potatoes and a marvelous sliced artichoke with thinly sliced tomato between the artichoke slices . . . colorful and delicious. The fish sauce was very finely chopped shallots, mushrooms and tomatoes cooked in white wine and with a bit of cream added. Superb! We got a local Saumur rosé to accompany it. For dessert Ed got a crème brûlée with apricots cooked into it and I got the chocolate mousse. Wonderful meal nicely served in a very homelike setting. [Auberge au Relais du Plessis-Bourré, 7 route d’Angers 49460 Soulaire-et-Bourg; tel: +33 (0)2 4132-0607; Auberge au Relais du Plessis-Bourré web site]

*****

Château de Montriou

Château de Montriou


After lunch we followed signs to Château de Montriou, to discover it closed on Mondays. Ed drove down and parked so I could take outside photos and then we decided to race for Château du Lude. We had no address so set the Peugeot GPS for Le Lude and headed off. Nearly there, I discovered the château listed on the Garmin GPS so we switched to that and drove right to the château just as a car was pulling out of the last parking place which we quickly grabbed. Château de Montriou web site

Château de Montriou

Château de Montriou

Château de Montriou

Château de Montriou

*****

Château du Lude

Château du Lude

Château du Lude - two pictures

Château du Lude - two pictures


We tore inside and bought our tickets just as a tour was leaving. This was also a French tour but we had an English brochure to follow. This is a privately owned home so no photos inside here either. The guide was good and the castle interesting but parts were very shabby, especially the first rooms with upholstery stripped down to bare wood on a couple arm chairs. Otherwise it was nicely kept and well done. According to the guide, this is the northernmost Loire Château. Its origins go back to the tenth century and in 1427 it was beseiged by Bluebeard. How is that for history? At this point it is more Italian Renaissance than medieval. We enjoyed the gardens along the Loir river afterwards. (Yes, the river Loir, not Loire. Two different rivers.) Château du Lude web site

Château du Lude from the lower garden

Château du Lude from the lower garden

Château du Lude from the upper garden

Château du Lude from the upper garden

Château du Lude

Château du Lude

Château du Lude

Château du Lude

Our GPS took us home on the AutoRoute so it was an easy trip and we stopped at the local boulangerie for a demi-baguette and two chocolate Religeaux. Good day!

Posted by Beausoleil 13:22 Archived in France Tagged chateau chateaux Comments (2)

Château Montsoreau and Fontevraud Abbey

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

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Interesting start to the morning. Sue e-mailed asking for an updated Membership List. I finally found it on my spare hard drive and sent it to her. They all have a copy so this shouldn’t be happening. Thank goodness I brought the spare hard drive. Then Jean e-mailed and couldn’t find our itinerary. I tried sending it twice and both times the Internet crashed. The connection here is terrible. I gave up and we left for Château Montsoreau.

Our GPS got us there with only one minor problem when a road in Saumur was closed for road work. We got around that and drove to the Château in Montsoreau. Had no trouble parking on the road beside the Château and got our tickets. We have discount tickets and I forgot them yet again. Sigh . . .

Château Montsoreau

Château Montsoreau

A tour is not required, so we got right in. The inside has been whitewashed and is filled with a modern art exposition; there is no furniture, family paintings, heraldry, just a few paintings and some very minimalist installations. The views of the Loire from the windows on one side, and troglodyte homes on the other were much nicer than the exhibits. On the other hand, there was an exhibit involving fun-house type mirrors so I got a photo of us which is difficult when traveling alone. We look a little odd in the wavy mirrors, but it is us and we are there. The views from the rooftop are fabulous. It's well worth the climb. Château de Montsoreau web site

Château Montsoreau

Château Montsoreau

View of the Loire from Château Montsoreau

View of the Loire from Château Montsoreau

View of Montsoreau from Château Montsoreau

View of Montsoreau from Château Montsoreau

*****

View from Le Comptoir des Vins Restaurant in Fontevraud

View from Le Comptoir des Vins Restaurant in Fontevraud


We looked at the nearby Logis for lunch but it didn’t have a very appealing menu so we set off for Fontevraud Abbey to find a restaurant. Fontevraud is becoming very tourist oriented. They even have a huge parking lot across from the Abbey. We parked and walked toward the Abbey entrance and immediately saw a little bar-restaurant with souris d’agneau, a big favorite of mine. Ed checked and found a couple things he liked and a table in the shade so we settled in at Le Comptoir des Vins. [2 Place des Plantagenêts, 49590 Fontevraud] I got my souris and Ed got confit de canard. Both were excellent. I got a salad and potatoes gratin with roasted garlic and shallots, and Ed got two small bowls of vegetables with his duck. We both ordered fondant au chocolat for dessert and both got moelleux but it was excellent. Great lunch but they wouldn’t take our credit card. Annoying.

*****

Fontevraud L'Abbaye Royale

Fontevraud L'Abbaye Royale

We crossed to the Abbey, bought our tickets and entered. It has changed greatly in ten years and more so in twenty. We visited in 1996, 2006 and now in 2016 so we’ll have to return in ten years! The entire entry is new with a nice gift store. They’ve added a lot of video presentations (French with English subtitles) and a couple interactive features that were great fun, including one that let you “paint” a section of the church with colored lights. Ed had to drag me away from that one. Another exhibit let you play with Legos and another had all kinds of wheels you could turn and buttons to push to activate the huge model of the abbey. We had fun! (I've put some photos of 1996, 2006 and 2016 at the bottom of this installment.)

Fontevraud L'Abbaye Royale interactive exhibit

Fontevraud L'Abbaye Royale interactive exhibit

Fontevraud L'Abbaye Royale

Fontevraud L'Abbaye Royale

Fontevraud L'Abbaye Royale

Fontevraud L'Abbaye Royale

Fontevraud L'Abbaye Royale - two photos including the Legos exhibit

Fontevraud L'Abbaye Royale - two photos including the Legos exhibit

*****

Fontevraud L'Abbaye Royale Cloisters

Fontevraud L'Abbaye Royale Cloisters


They’ve opened up many new sections and have a terrace with drinks and snacks where we stopped for bottles of water. It’s really hot! A few raindrops just made it more humid. There is also a restaurant that I think has a Michelin star. At any rate it is supposed to be excellent. I didn't check the prices but they probably match the quality. Fontevraud Abbey web site

Fontevraud L'Abbaye Royale Chapter House

Fontevraud L'Abbaye Royale Chapter House

Fontevraud L'Abbaye Royale Cloisters

Fontevraud L'Abbaye Royale Cloisters

Archeval, a sculpture by Christian Renonciat

Archeval, a sculpture by Christian Renonciat

Left the Abbey and walked to Proxi market to get t.p., cheese and a melon. Then walked to the boulangerie for bread. Drove home via A85 passing a giant horse sculpture that turned out to be "Archeval" by Christian Renonciat and at 12 meters high, the largest equestrian statue in the world. Then, fighting the deviation (detour) in Saumur, we wound our way home and now Ed is doing the laundry while I write. Rain is promised tomorrow. We watched a crazy French movie and finished the laundry. Our gite actually has a dryer. Considering the weather lately, this is a good thing.

For some interesting history here are photos of Fontevraud Abbey taken in 1996, in 2006 and in 2016. With luck I'll take more in 2026.

Fontevraud Abbaye 1996

Fontevraud Abbaye 1996

Fontevraud Abbay 2006

Fontevraud Abbay 2006

Fontevraud L'Abbaye 2016

Fontevraud L'Abbaye 2016

*****

Fontevraud Abbay Kitchens 1996

Fontevraud Abbay Kitchens 1996

Fontevraud Abbay Kitchens 2006

Fontevraud Abbay Kitchens 2006

Fontevraud Abbay Kitchens 2016 - the top is gone)

Fontevraud Abbay Kitchens 2016 - the top is gone)

Posted by Beausoleil 13:05 Archived in France Tagged abbeys chateau chateaux Comments (0)

Château Brissac and the Priory at St. Rémy-la-Varenne

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

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The Windmill near Brissac

The Windmill near Brissac


No alarm so we slept until after eight. We must have needed it. Quick breakfast and out the door. We tried it without GPS today on local roads. Only got lost once and easily caught it. We made one slight detour when we spotted a beautiful windmill off the road. We turned, found it and took pictures, then got back to our road. We drove to Château Brissac-Quince, found parking and were just in time to catch the obligatory French tour.

*****

Château Brissac

Château Brissac


We caught up with the French tour in the first room, the Grand Salon, and it was a huge group which made photos difficult but the guide was nice about laggards for pictures. It’s a beautiful, nicely furnished and well-cared-for château. Its fame lies in the fact that it is seven stories tall with 204 rooms and is known as the "Giant of the Loire Valley." It has been owned and lived in by the same family since 1502. Although it is a private home, they do allow photos which I truly appreciated. The tour ends in the family wine cellar for a free tasting and you exit through the gift shop where, to my delight, I found muguet soap, my favorite scent. Château Brissac web site

Château Brissac

Château Brissac

Château Brissac Dining Room

Château Brissac Dining Room

Château Brissac Gallery

Château Brissac Gallery

Château Brissac Upper Gallery and portrait of Veuve Clicquot

Château Brissac Upper Gallery and portrait of Veuve Clicquot

Château Brissac Belle Epoque Theater

Château Brissac Belle Epoque Theater

*****

Lunch at Aux 2 Terrasses Restaurant in Brissac-Quince

Lunch at Aux 2 Terrasses Restaurant in Brissac-Quince

We had planned lunch at the nearby Logis hotel-restaurant but were rather abruptly told they don’t serve food. Wonder what the terrace is for? Rejected, we walked up to the Tourist Office for a restaurant recommendation and got two, one a creperie which we don’t like and the other a gem just down the street. It’s in a historic building and if you sit outside, you have a tiny view through the trees of the château. Aux 2 Terrasses Restaurant has two terraces and limited inside seating. All ingredients are locally sourced and they post their sources on a board inside the restaurant. The kitchen is open to view which is fun and the staff small but attentive. Ed started with a tomato salad with feta and I got rillettes of sardines and goat cheese on toast with a salad. We both ordered beef and pork brochettes with salad and sauteed potatoes. Ed got rum raisin ice cream for dessert and I got pistachio . . . both excellent. Very good meal in a most pleasant atmosphere. We thoroughly enjoyed their watercolor paintings of local scenes. [Aux 2 Terrasses Restaurant, 8 Place du Tertre 49320 Brissac-Quincé; +33 (0)2 4168-4987; e-mail: aux2terrasses@yahoo.fr; and the web site: Aux 2 Terrasses web site]

*****

The Priory at St. Rémy-la-Varenne

The Priory at St. Rémy-la-Varenne

Priory at St. Rémy-la-Varenne Entrance carvings

Priory at St. Rémy-la-Varenne Entrance carvings

Next we drove to St. Rémy-la-Varenne to visit the Priory that was founded in the 10th century. You start in the Tourist Office which is in the Priory and are given a booklet and orientation and do part of the tour. Then you return to the Tourist Office and get another orientation and finish the tour. It’s a lovely old Priory and the young woman working there was very nice. The most imposing thing was the huge Renaissance Fireplace in the Priory House. It has been recently restored to its polychrome magnificance and is worth a trip to view.

We were also treated to an exhibit of decorated squash and gourds done in Priory workshops, an autumn tradition. Priory Saint-Rémy-la-Varenne web site

Priory at St. Rémy-la-Varenne, the Chapter House

Priory at St. Rémy-la-Varenne, the Chapter House

Renaissance Fireplace in the Priory House

Renaissance Fireplace in the Priory House

Priory Saint-Rémy-la-Varenne

Priory Saint-Rémy-la-Varenne

Priory at Saint-Rémy-la-Varenne

Priory at Saint-Rémy-la-Varenne

*****

Two of the sheep at our gite

Two of the sheep at our gite


We returned via Brain and stopped at Cocci Market for wine, cheese, melon and bread. Back at the gite, we met our hostess for a brief chat as she was picking apples in our lane, and we were gifted with two plump apples. We also met two of their sheep, a friendly pony and a crazy tuxedo cat. Fun evening!

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Posted by Beausoleil 11:37 Archived in France Tagged cats chateau brissac priories saint-rémy-la-varenne Comments (1)

Château de Saumur and the town

Thursday, September 15, 2016

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Up at 7:30, showered and ate breakfast then began a very frustrating and unsuccessful attempt to contact our next hostess. She has no e-mail that I can find and she doesn’t speak English. My French is shaky enough I hate telephones. Well, I hate telephones anyway, but particularly in a foreign language. I couldn’t find a contact and gave up because the connection was so slow. The internet here is wifi but as slow as the old telephone modems used to be. We left. I’ll deal with it later.

Château de Saumur from Pont Cessart

Château de Saumur from Pont Cessart


Drove to Saumur but had missed the 11:00 AM tourist train so drove up to the Château in the rain. Garmin found the Château parking. We parked, paid and entered with a twenty-minute wait in the rain for our obligatory castle tour in English. I took pictures from under my umbrella and hope they are okay if not particularly cheery.

Château de Saumur from under my umbrella

Château de Saumur from under my umbrella

*****

Orangerie Restaurant at Château de Saumur

Orangerie Restaurant at Château de Saumur


Our guide appeared and did most of the tour, i.e. her speech, inside because of the rain. She then turned us loose to wander the Château on our own. We started and then decided lunch might be a good idea so walked down to the Orangerie of the castle for lunch. The daily special didn’t look very special so I ordered souris d’agneau and Ed got magret de canard. They came with tomatoes Provençal, pureed peas and a hot vegetable paté with a lot of curry . . . odd combination for the rest of the meal but it was tasty. The lamb and duck were both excellent. We both got a very creamy crème brûlée for dessert and were delighted to have found the Orangerie. [The Orangerie, Caserne Feuquières, Cours du Château, 49400 Saumur, France; tel: +33 (0)2 4167-1288; fax: +33 (0)2 4167-7460; Orangerie Restaurant web site]

*****

View from Château de Saumur

View from Château de Saumur


While we were eating, the rain stopped and the sun came out so we walked around a little taking sunny pictures before returning to the Château. We climbed up and down stairs and wandered through rooms. Displays were mostly tapestries and china with only one floor of exhibits. Nice, but the views were the highlight. [Château de Saumur, Loire-Anjou-Touraine Natural Regional Park, 49400 Saumur, France; tel: +33 (0)2 4140-2440; Château de Saumur web site]

Château de Saumur with sunshine

Château de Saumur with sunshine

Being silly at Château de Saumur

Being silly at Château de Saumur

Interior photos of Château de Saumur

Interior photos of Château de Saumur

Exhibit at Château de Saumur

Exhibit at Château de Saumur

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*****

Saumur from the Little Tourist Train

Saumur from the Little Tourist Train


Retrieved the car and drove to Centre Ville and found Place Bilange so we parked along the river and walked back stopping at the Tourist Office for a map. Walked around Old Town until time for the little train. There were some very oddly-dressed teens meeting in the square. You couldn’t help but notice grass skirts, pink hair, bunny ears, crowns, etc. The train arrived and the last car was narrated in English so we sat there . . . by ourselves. The train chugged all over town with commentary and the only jarring note was the narrator kept saying Calvary when she meant cavalry . . . big difference! Since there is a cavalry school in the town, this came up quite often in the narration. I chuckled every time.

Memorial to fallen cavalry at the Cavalry School

Memorial to fallen cavalry at the Cavalry School

Place St. Pierre

Place St. Pierre

*****

Château de Montgeoffroy

Château de Montgeoffroy


After the train tour we went to Carrefour Market to get two things Carol Lynn wanted and they didn’t have them so we bought bread and cereal before driving home. We ate outside but it looks like more rain coming. I finally broke down and telephoned our next hostess who wasn’t home so I think I left a message. With this cell phone I am never sure what I’m doing.

Posted by Beausoleil 17:31 Archived in France Tagged chateau saumur Comments (1)

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