Blois - Loire Valley, France
We woke up at 6am and took a train from Paris to Blois. Oh. My. Gosh. We barely caught the train! We would have had to wait an extra two hours if we had missed it. The train was scheduled to leave at 7:22am and we got to it at 7:21am. We got on, Jere put the bags on the shelf and the train left!
Here is some background information: I REALLY wanted to rent bicycles and ride somewhere, anywhere. So we decided to rent them and ride to two chateaus out in the country. We loved the ride, however our rumps were very sore by the end of the day. We spent the WHOLE day riding and visiting these two chateaus. I would say we were gone for about 9 hours. It didn't help that I was a slow rider and on top of that, kept pausing to look at landscape or houses...
As we sit here writing in Montlivault, the church bells are ringing. I can't even describe how much I love the little houses and cheerful people we see. Riding through the country on our bicycles to see the chateaus is amazing and I almost wish we had left Paris earlier. We checked into our hotel here in Blois - "Hotel du Bellay". There is a sweet spiral staircase and our room is very cute. The town of Blois is SO pretty. Every street and walkway has flowers, nice grass, trees and benches. I LOVE the old stone work. The man at the bicycle shop was so friendly and funny as well as the lady we spoke to at the tourism office. I'm lovin' it already.
One more thing - I love the houses we past so much that I wanted to take pictures...Jere decided he would take them for me and is riding with the camera over his shoulder - he caught a sweet pic of a man leaving the boulengerie (bakery) with two little Yorkies in his basket! (the little man was so cute with his two dogs in the front basket of his bicycle and his bagette in the basket on the back of his bike. He had come to the bakery in his slippers.)
We arrived at Chambord after biking for around two hours through the countryside. Coasting down hill to the chateau, we could see it's towers through the clearing in the trees. We parked our bikes in the entry - tourist area, leaning them against trees that looked like they belonged in Alice in Wonderland. Walking up to the chateau was stunning. Walking through, the only thing I could think of was how big it was and how I could never imagine living there.
The ride from Chambord to Cheverny was good and bad. We were sore from our first ride to Chambord so that affected us on our ride. (our bums were sore) Leaving Chambord we hopped onto a bike path leading us through the woods. The forest was awesome. There were ferns everywhere and most of the trees were very tall and very straight. Once we left the forest, we got onto a road that said "to Cheverny". Little did we know that it wasn't the road for bicycles. No one stopped us, but it definitely wasn't as enjoyable as the road from Blois to Chambord.
In total, we biked about 60 Kilometers. At one point along the road we stoped to look at our map and thought we had somehow passed a road to take us to the town of Cheverny. SOOO...we turned around and biked two kilometers back. Then when we reached the town of Tour de Sologne, we opened the map again and realized we back tracked for no reason. We should have kept going instead of turning back! Grumbling, we went on our way - looking at the same countryside for the third time!
Upon arriving at Cheverny, we heard dogs barking. Both Chambord and Cheverny are hunting lodges, but Cheverny is still owned by the descendants of the original builders. There are activities going on there a lot. Someone lived in this chateau until 1985 where upon it became a tourist attraction. Anyways we walked over to where we heard fox hounds barking and howling. It was close to feeding time and the handler was laying out raw meat in a long line with whole chickens and kibble on top. The dogs were barking because they knew it was close to feeding time. They were behind a fence on top of their bed down area staring down at the food. At 5pm, the handler opened the gate and probably 100(+/-) dogs came running down the ramp. The handler held a braided whip and stood in front of the line of food waving his whip from side to side, forcing the dogs to line up. They were baying the whole time! As soon as the handler said "Okaaaay" the dogs ran around him grabbing and gobbling what they could. Most dogs had whole chickens and took them to a place by themselves to eat. At first all that could be seen were their backs and slowly they broke up and took their share to eat by themselves. The handler just stood among them the whole time.
Walking in the chateau was great. It's not as big as Chambord BUT there were closed off areas that we didn't see as well as the basement. The rooms were well done in giving a picture with furniture of how they were used. There was the bridal chamber, childrens room, study etc. The current owners were married at Cheverny in 1994.
The ride from Cheverny to the hotel in Blois was PAINFUL. Our rumps were very, very sore. To top it off, we were riding along a highway which wasn't very scenic - just forest and cars. After being on the highway, we got on a REAL highway with four lanes. The cars were going super fast and one even honked at us. After the honk, we knew we ha to get off. After looking around we doggedly made our way. We-were-tired. Once back, we parked our bikes and went to the nearest restaurant. I had chicken and fries and Jere had beef skewers and fries. After sitting for a bit at the restaurant we went to our hotel and laid down.........for the rest of the night. No brushing teeth, no showers. Just cuddling and laying. We slept for over 12 hours.
(not showering after sweating that much is disgusting. And not brushing teeth before bed is a big time rule that we broke. we were just that tired.)
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Blois - Loire Valley, France