I left off with the party making for Tours proper around 4:15pm after the visit to the chateau where Duke of Windsor had his wedding in 1937, arriving Tours just before 5pm. Rue du Halles was a main street. Su asked me to park somewhere so that she could go to get the key to the air BnB she had booked. I waited for about 15 minutes and we got into the car park which was not opened to the public. Our apartment was on the 2nd floor, implying more work because there were no lifts. The apartment was rather decent and we got all our stuff in at last. I had a much-needed drink in no time; and was allowed a rest as the ladies went for some groceries shopping. We then went for our booked dinner. But first, a few words on the apartment on 3 Rue Baleschoux with private parking in the courtyard, where we stayed for four days and three night. It comprised two rooms, one toilet and one bath, a well-furnished kitchen and a washing machine.
Su set the alarm for 630am and went for more groceries with Mei-Mei at 7am. The plan was to leave the flat by 8:30am and walk to the train station for a SNCF train departing at 0928hr for Chenonceau. Su had billed today’s Chateau as one of the three most significant sites on our trip. We finally left the flat at 8:45am, arrived station by 0904hr and boarded the train in 10 minutes. There were two stops before we reached our destination, with ETA at 0955hr. The first stop due West was St Pierre des Corps, and the second, Blere la Croix.
The Chateau is where the train station is and which is named as such. There were plenty of coaches parked there already when we arrived; and we also ran into a large group of school children. We bought the tickets from the machines for the 10:15am batch and started doing what tourists would do. There were so much to see; and soon we got separated from each other, presumably each going for what one wanted to see. Somehow, Su and I finally made contact and decided to stick together and learning more about the cameras in the meantime. The Chateau is not as vast as we had expected and by 11:30am we were ready for lunch. We did the gardens after lunch, taking more pictures and walking more, even going into the maze and apothecary, before making our way to the train station. The itinerary to visit the Chateau by train was all Su’s and designed so as such so that I won’t need to do this part of driving and back. It was a predominantly sunny day and we had a great time. The train left at 1608hr for Tours and arrived at 1636hr when we looked for bread for dinner, and were back to base by 5:15pm. We began some serious eating and drinking and managed to break the new corkscrew Su bought at La Rochelle for €29. We did manage to uncork the white we bought at the Chateau.
The next day promised rain; and Su’s plans were not to eat or go outside the apartment too far, but to wander around. After breakfast, the ladies went off to the market for groceries around noon and returned with plenty of fruits and other produces. After a predominantly fruits lunch, we went out for another walkabout, spending some time for coffee and tea and a banana split which also doubled as Su’s first birthday cake, complete with a makeshift candle. Afterwards, Su took us to the oyster place they had visited at noon, bought a dozen and two glasses of white for about €23, and on the way back to base, bought another corkscrew at €13.5 which proved to be more durable.
The next day was Sunday and Su’s birthday proper. We moved out at 11am and arrived at Hotel Le Fleuray at 11:45am. It was too early to check in, but they would have us for lunch by noon, which we did, at the same time were assured that our rooms would be ready afterwards. We ordered a main course each, fish for the ladies and pork for me, which were all very nice, particularly after a complimentary trout eggs plus white asparagus. We were all very pleased with what he had. We checked in; and went for a walkabout on the main road as far as the estate of the hotel which was not too far. Later in the day, Su decided to go into town, which we did and we ended up at Chateau Amboise. A word must be recorded here that Su had done plenty of research beforehand to make allowance for alternative programmes, depending on the circumstances, which saved a lot of unnecessary work. So we began walking the chateau and its gardens around 4:40pm and returned to the hotel at 6:40pm for dinner. We had meant to have the 7-course tasting menu we saw at lunch time, which would have been fitting to celebrate Su’s birthday, but instead we were told that we could only have the fixed 3-course menu, which was much cheaper, but as good to celebrate Su’s birthday. We learnt afterwards that the tasting menu would only be available on certain days of the week, which prompted Su to book for another visit the following Sunday for it and to stay for the night, which she did, except that the other BnB apartment she had booked would not entertain cancellation without payments. It meant that we had to abort the plan for a return trip. We had coffee in the garden and then some whiskey outside our garden room looking at the sunset. It was rather picturesque and serene. Mei-Mei was too tired to join us. We retired around 10:30pm; had breakfast at 9am the next day and departed at 11:05am, heading for Blois.
We arrived the car park of Chateau Chaumont around mid-day; and picked an eatery called Le Marignan at 5 Place du Chateau, 41000 Blois for lunch. We were seated at the open area which overlooked a museum which featured from 12:30pm a 5-minute mechanical show from their windows, with 5 dragons and from a sixth window on the top floor, either a Harry Potter type snake or the tailbone a dragon. The show recurred every 30 minutes, at 1pm and 1:30pm; and we were not sure if it would continue afterwards. The ladies took many pictures and videos of the dragons. Su took us to the city centre to see some steps, which were to be an art piece and an attraction, except that it was under repairs when we were there. Mei-Mei tried to do some shopping, but most shops were closed. We finally walked back up the steps to the Chateau and started the Chateau routines.
The Chateau management had done well and it was good value. We left before 4pm to collect the car – paid €4.40 – and made our way to the BnB apartment near Chambord. We arrived before 5pm and were met by Christine, who with her husband runs the place. We took two rooms and were given a thorough briefing. Afterwards. We decided not to drive to town for dinner by to eat simple at the village. It was only a few minutes’ walk to La Clef des Chateaux Hotel and Restaurant – which Su had thought of booking, but declined because of poor reviews – and had dinner. The dinner was not bad. Su further revealed that the room rates were cheaper than the BnB apartment that she had booked for us. We had breakfast at 9am. In fact, one of the nicer practices we had adopted throughout the trip was not to have breakfast earlier than 9am. Our hostess Christine made very good scrambled eggs, but told us that she didn’t do dinners now, which apparently, she used to. After breakfast, we set off at 10:45am by car and got to Chambord in no time. It was sunny, albeit somewhat windy. We finished the chateau routines by 1:15pm, waited under the sun a while before exiting around 1:45pm.
Su decided to have lunch at the gardens, and so we did. The place was somewhat unoccupied. We bought lunch, including a bottle of Chambord white as we while away in the field, leisurely and regally. By 4pm, we were still basking under the sun, and we decided to repeat the lunch orders, except that the sandwiches were all sold out. We finally got some salad, and returned to the hotel by 5pm. We didn’t venture out for dinner, but stayed indoors for a simple supper and retired early. The next morning, we had breakfast as usual, paid bills and departed for Cherveny. It was Wednesday 17 May 2023.