Loving our 19th Century Gitê (Airbnb)

We made a steady start as it was so comfortable in our little 19th century Gité. Even made time for a cooked breakfast of sausages eggs and a number of cups of tea. We decide about 11am after finishing a couple loads of washing we should make a move. Leaving the gité with wet washing hanging from every hook or curtain rod and looking more like a laundry we set off for Amboise to visit the old town and our first Château.

The Château d Amboise was right in the centre of town overlooking the river. Leonardo d Vinci is buried in the chapel although I think he was moved here at some point in time. I need to read up on this. The views over the river were spectacular as are all the views in France. 

After a perfect cappuccino (water for me) out of a machine, we hit the road to Boise and visit the Château Chambord.

Breathtaking views in every direction

 If I thought the last one was spectacular well this one was magnificent (someone tell Sharpy I put down payment on it). The Château Chambord is set on huge grounds outside of Boise and the gardens were perfect. The symmetry and simplicity suited me just fine. Oh yes, we climbed the 300 plus stairs to the balcony we DID NOT continue up the several more flights to the tower.

The tapestries, paintings and the rooms that contained them were enormous. Sparsely furnished and would have been very cold in winter hence the fireplaces in each room that an average family could take shelter in. The amount of wood to keep every room warm would have been a small forest every year. After a bite of lunch at the cafe in grounds, we headed back to Amboise via the supermarket to collect a few supplies.

Lamb chops for dinner tomorrow night €8 or A$13 for 6 chops A$2:15 per chop. It was fresh baguettes with ham and tomato for dinner tonight. Tomorrow we are off to another Château this could even be better than the first two. Not sure how to describe if it is. After Château we will explore the old town of Amboise. 

Note to self must come back and explore this area more

Heading to Amboise in the Loire Valley

After another steady start we had breakfast, packed up and locked the door on our little airBnB. This little place was perfect for our needs and provided us with a very affordable option for accommodation while visiting the ST Mont Michel area. It was about 20 minute drive from the Mont area but it served it’s purpose perfectly.

Today was a driving day, we were stuck to the back roads so we could see some of the smaller villages and more of the countryside. Lunch and a grocery stop was in Angers . On looking back we should have explored this city a little more, we missed so much without knowing what was really there. Lesson learned google all towns along route (this is what I do when i am the navigator, this time I was the driver) so if a pit stop is required we then know if there are sights worth seeing. It is so easy to just see a small part of a town without knowing the amazing things that are so close.

We arrived about mid afternoon at our next airbnb, an amazingly little Gité (cottage) on a small farm just outside Amboise. Seb, Fredricka and family were very welcoming and lived in the main how at the rear of the property. The children loved practicing their english with mum and took every opportunity to do so, which she enjoyed. The family had very busy live Seb is an architect that works from home and Fredricka traveled a lot as marketing director of a large company. they supplemented their income by letting out the Gité. Located only a few miles from main part of Aboise it was a perfect location to explore all the chateaüs in the area. We settled in to home cooked meal of lamb loin chops and veggies and caught up on phone calls and emails etc.

A sneak peak of the amazing sights over next few days

We were happy to be spending three nights in this perfect little place which allows us to wash and take things a little slower. Although I really focussed on making this trip s slower pace with so much too see at every turn it is hard to build in enough time in to planning. I am determined next time in Europe I get this right. I am thinking 3 days in all areas while visiting the countryside. Allows for small day trips via car or train from a central point. It seems that when driving from place to place we miss too much stuff. Need to be able to absorb each region allowing time to see some of the most lesser known sights and restaurants etc

Mont Saint Michel and a glimpse of the Normandy Region

One of the most breath-taking places in the world

After getting some work done- horse reports, invoices sent, spreadsheets updated and bills paid along with all other little jobs that I just do as part of my everyday. We were ready to hit the road to Normandy just to have a look we wouldn’t have time to explore the area but thought we could drive around. We headed for Bayeux and then onto Omaha Beach again all the while in the back roads through quaint little villages and beautiful scenery.

We stopped at Patisserie in Percy and purchased baguette for home and a couple filled baguettes for our lunch. This place smelt amazing and I could have taken everything home. It is the real France. We made it to Bayeux and I found Macdonald’s to pick up coffees to go with our baguettes. The baguettes were out of this world so yummy and I could have eaten another one. It didn’t realise until I was writing this post that Bayeux is the home of the Bayeux Tapestry, which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England. It is also known as the first major town secured by the Allies during Operation Overlord

Back on the road to drive across to coast to Omaha Beach. Omaha, commonly known as Omaha Beach, was the code name for one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944. There are many places to visit but we just chose this one so we have look before heading back in time to visit Mont Saint Michel in the afternoon.

The day was a little cold at the beginning but the closer we got back to the Mont the clearer the skies for and warmer it was. By the time we arrived back at the Mont parking area, the skies were blue and it wasn’t cold at all. After parking the car we made our way onto the shuttle bus to take the 15 minutes to ride out to the mont. It was a pretty steady pace navigating through the horse-drawn vehicular, walkers and cyclists, although the main crowds have left for the day there were still plenty of people around. 

What can I say this place is one of the most mind-blowing places I have ever visited that includes Iguazu and Niagara Falls both natural wonders but this being man-made all with limited access due to tides. (Today there is a raised bridge to allow access at all times) was even more impressive. The sheer height of the structure makes you wonder how they ever built it. We spent a little time exploring it is very steep to walk around but we did what we could. It was great to be there with no crowds. I believe in the season it can be very very crowded especially in the middle of the day. 

We decided it was time to head for home we paid the 6€ (49.50aud) for a ride back in the horse-drawn vehicle it was starting to cool off but it was almost 6:30pm. Back at the car, we headed for home via the supermarket in Pontorson to pick up BBQ chook and some bread for dinner. After a welcome cuppa and sandwich, we fell into bed after a good day of exploring.

Tomorrow we set off to Amboise in the Loire Valley for a 3-day stay and looking at a Château or two or five

Château d’Amboise In the Loire Valley

The road trip around France begins…

After restful night and dining in the room on Subway rolls (located near the hotel). The day dawned it was car pick up day and our first Air BnB stay in Aucey-la-Plaine a small village about a 15-minute drive from Mont Saint Michel. A 20-minute taxi ride to collect the hire car. The airport is the only hire car location open on a Sunday it is also easier to start driving from somewhere on outskirts to allow time to adjust the car and being on the wrong side of the road. I have now driven a few thousand kilometres on the opposite side of the road in the USA and France previously so it comes pretty easily these days.   It didn’t take long and the only couple missed turns getting used to navigation system commands. GPS systems are not as exact as google maps which warns you ahead and then says turn here at the street name when you at the exact spot. The GPS says in 400-metre turn right and if there are two streets really close together never sure without looking at the screen if the first or second street. Or at least mine does it is a couple year old now so probably outdated. 

It wasn’t long before we were on our way to Aucey-la-Plaine, we avoided the highways so took our time to travel the 64 km to locate our 1st Air BnB. Once located we headed off to explore the area a bit and find something for lunch and some supplies for dinner before checking in. The nearest larger place was Pontorson which is about 10 minutes from Aucey-la-Plaine they had a market day on and after a quick look we had lunch and went for a drive out past the Mont Saint Michel. The first glimpse is ‘wow’ it just so large and stands out from everything. Just like the pictures, it is impressive from all angles. We decided to visit tomorrow afternoon and hoped the weather would be nice as our first day in the area. 

Check-in at our first Air BnB was uneventful and was self-check-in using the details provided by the host, we settle down for the night in our very suitable little cottage.

Tips:
Pick up rental cars from airports, often easier to navigate away from town until you are used to driving on the left-hand side of the road. Getting out of city areas can be a bit tricky when adjusting to the car and finding your way.

Allow plenty of time before your train leaves to familiarise yourself station and platform your train will leave and where to stand on the platform for your carriage (usually marked on overhead boards on the platform)

Check if you need to validate your ticket (yellow machine or by completing trip details (Before you board) on train pass. Usually, tickets with allocated seats/reservations do not require validation

Accommodations:
Rennes Mercure (short taxi ride from the station) Close to a few food options
Air BnB Aucey-la-Plaine
Easy to access using self-check-in/out instructions provided. Good communication with the host via email and text. Well-appointed and perfect for our needs …Steep stairs to bathroom and bedrooms

Map and Travel:

Paris in Earnest

After a leisurely breakfast in the hotel, we wandered over to catch the Open Bus Tours at stop 17 on the blue line. Which was only across the way from the hotel. Along with the subway which we will put to good use later in the trip. 

With the sun doing it’s best to peek through we set off to explore Paris. It was a little chilly when bus moving but otherwise the weather is fine and definitely not too cold. 

After couple hours on the blue line going around all the main sites we headed back to the room (stop 17) right near the hotel for a lunch of ham, tomato and cheese we purchased yesterday with a welcome cup tea me and coffee for mum. 

We added another layer and headed back out to do the red loop on the bus which takes in Moulin Rouge, Sacrae Cur Gard De Nord (main station, and where Eurostar leaves for London) again we stayed on board and listened to the commentary. Arrived back at the room again at 3:30pm decided too early for dinner so decided on a rest before dinner. Both slept again until too late for dinner so it was a non event but we were not hungry and had plenty of fruit etc. 

Paris and cruising the Siene

Next day dawned as check out day and we were due to catch a train to Rennes where we will pick up a car for the next week. After checking out and a very leisurely breakfast we set off to do a cruise on the Siene and visit Notre Dame. The cruise was great glad we started early on Paris terms as it got very busy later in the day. We did the full loop and gain a different perspective of many of the major sites from the river such as Louvre, Notre Dame and Eiffel Tower.

We left the boat at Notre Dame stop and wandered around the grounds. Decided against lining up in a very long line to go inside opted for a steak lunch instead of in a little place where we had eaten on a previous trip to Paris. It was good and the staff very friendly and helpful. After lunch it time to find the bus again and complete the green line and return to the hotel for the bags.

Our train was scheduled for 16:52 and we got a taxi to Montpasse station in plenty of time to allow for working out what we needed to do. Just as well, the whole place under renovation so took a bit to sort out where we needed to be. When the platform was announced we walked the length of the train (I swear we walked halfway to Rennes to find our carriage and seats.) managed to get the bags stored away and collapsed in the seat to enjoy/sleep 1h 30m trip. 

Looking forward to hitting the road and slowing down the pace for next week. Stayed the Mercure hotel near the station in Rennes. 

France it is then…

Didn’t make the hotel for the wifi for Japhite’s race but certainly had the taxi driver giving me peculiar looks when I started to cheer her on as she finished second which was fantastic. I didn’t mention I had my earpiece in so all of a sudden he had a mad woman urging on something or someone called Japhite without being able to hear the race lol. 

Our bags deposited at the hotel for out again for an activity to get us through to check in time. Walked to the Galleria Lafayette for coffee before visiting a supermarket for the makings of rolls and some fruit and cheese as we decided once we hit the room we didn’t want to leave again until tomorrow.

A rest before we truely begin our France trip 2018..

We slept most of the afternoon and night. I got some work done and watched the replay of the race again. We ate our sandwiches and we were all the better for the long rest. 

Another day another Château and what a Château is was…

Not as big in sheer size as yesterday’s but made up for that in class. The Château de Chenonceau is a French château spanning the River Cher, near the small village of Chenonceaux in the Indre-et-Loire département of the Loire Valley in France. It is one of the best-known châteaux of the Loire valley. The estate of Chenonceau is first mentioned in writing in the 11th century.

Visit the website for more information

If you could only see one Château this should be the one says she who has only seen three out of the hundreds in France.

I loved how it spanned the river and was not as fortresslike as the others although it was protected by a pretty significant moat. The gardens were well laid again not complex but simple plantings then repeated again and again to provide perfect symmetry and best overall effect. After an hour so going from room to room. Yes, a few more stairs to reach 1st level rooms and gallery.

From 1st level

The floral arrangements were something to behold. I really liked them all especially the table centre. I have never seen such bright pink hydrangeas.

After a wander around there garden, we had lunch in the bistro. I had the soup of the day and something I love but never have, strawberries and cream. Not just cream it was chantilly cream. It was so delicious and now I can reflect on it next time I go without dessert. We decided we had seen enough and it was time to find some fuel and cash for the next leg of the drive.

We headed back towards Amboise and I fuelled up on the way. I love that you can pay at the pump and no need to go inside. Wish this was more widespread at home. Not much chance how else are servos going to entice people into paying over odds for their snacks foods and drinks. They need those sales to offset the fact they make nothing from fuel.

We headed in the old part of Amboise to have a wander around. I purchased a cotton string bag for home. Woo hoo, I hear you say but it has a purpose and brings me joy. Home again around 4pm and looking forward to a break before we enjoyed our lamb chops and turned in for an early night. 

Tomorrow we hit the road again headed for Rocamadour. Rocamadour is a small clifftop village in south-central France.  Amboise has been a great place to stay and I would happily recommend staying in Seb and Fredricka’s gitè. 

Accommodation: Airbnb Highly recommended if you want to be a little out of town, lovely family. The children love practising their English.
Getting Around: Car is the best option, you could get the train to Loire valley from Paris but then need a car to see the area to best advantage
Time: Need a few days to really explore the area, there are so many Chateaux within a reasonable drive and need to leave time for other activities.
Favourite part of stay: Visiting Château de Chenonceau
Least Favourite part of stay: Not enough time – needed at least 4 days