Cahors and onto Carcassonne

The 7th and 8th of October saw us hit the road from our night in Rocomodour after a walk around town which was interesting and still boggles the mind as to how hard it would have been to build such solid and long lasting buildings on a cliff.

Our drive through Cahors didn’t reveal much I am sure there is plenty to see there but I will have to find it next time as we want to get to Carcassonne before it was too late.

Our Mercure hotel was a very short walk from the castle and walled city.  It was all we could do was check in decide on dinner in the hotel before flopping into bed.

We had a good night, feeling quite refreshed, and after hearty breakfast we headed up the hill to explore the castle and walled city for a few hours before heading off towards Pont Du Gard and Uzès which is where our next night was planned. 

The Cité de Carcassonne is a medieval citadel located in the French city of Carcassonne, in the department of Aude, Occitanie region. It is located on a hill on the right bank of the River Aude, in the south-east part of the city proper. It was worth seeing even if somewhat touristy feel to it. We spent several hours wandering around and even walked all the way around the rampart despite having to climb more stairs to access. 

The drive from Carcassonne to Uzès was uneventful and we only stopped to get fuel once buying a snack at the same time before getting back in the road.

We stayed at Best Western at Uzès and dinner in the restaurant was good even if we had a booking due to a bus load staying in hotel.  We are both starting to look forward to getting back to Paris where we can stay under one roof for more than a night or two.

Our hotel in Uzés

Rocamadour – a cliff top village

After goodbyes from Seb and family our Air BnB host for the past three days. They are a busy lovely family that made us feel very welcome. Au revoir   

We set off on the 4-hour drive south from Amboise to Rocamadour. The drive was uneventful and the weather is amazing it just couldn’t be more perfect.

After some confusion finding the hotel as it was through a very narrow archway and down a mostly pedestrian street. Mum walked in and checked about bringing in the car. The parking was located directly in front of the hotel

Rocamadour…the vertical village Overlooking the Alzou canyon, the medieval village of Rocamadour is a marvellous balancing act. The first shock is the place itself – in reality, a tiny village with a world-wide reputation – Built into the cliffside on successive levels, 120 metres in length, it clings high above a canyon through which flows the Alzou. Its houses, roofs and churches seem to be part of the rock itself. 

What genius conceived Rocamadour and built it? As early as the Middle Ages, Rocamadour excited people’s admiration. In the 12th C., pilgrims crossed the whole of Europe to come and pray here. The village housed the relics of Saint-Amadour (a famous hermit who sought solitude in Rocamadour). It was also the much-venerated sanctuary of the Black Virgin.

We checked in and rested for a while before dinner. Dinner was in the hotel restaurant our first restaurant dinner for this trip and it was very good I had ‘the duck’ mum settled on the lamb.

Hors d’ oeuvres, soup, main and cheese plate/dessert was too much but was all delicious. Tomorrow we will explore Rocamadour and then drive on to Carcassonne via Cahors which is an hour and half away. 

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

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