On the eve of our annual vacation in La Touraine, I’m hoping for good weather. Wouldn’t you? I recall that on our first real visit in 1999, we ran into some pretty awful weather whilst making our way south.
We always try to get to and through Paris as early as possible to avoid the usual traffic jam on the notorious ‘périphérique’, the ring way around Paris. By leaving Brussels between 5:00 a.m. and 5:30 a.m we usually arrive at the ‘Porte de la Chapelle’ north of Paris by 8:00 – 8:30 a.m. Perfect timing as it seems, as most Parisians are still in bed at this early hour on a Sunday morning. It usually takes 15 to 20 minutes to reach the ‘Porte d’Orléans’, which is the ‘gateway’ to the Loire Valley!
We take a ‘pit stop’ at the first rest area to have breakfast. That’s exactly what we did in 1999. After having a ‘jambon beurre’ and an orange juice (for me) and a croissant and an espresso (for my friend, who likes his coffee VERY strong, Italian style), we set off in the direction of Orléans.
The A10 motorway passes through a region known as La Beauce. Its main features are the endless wheat fields and the windmills. It’s very beautiful and early on a sunny Sunday morning, when there are hardly any cars on the motorway, you have the impression of being the only people on earth.
Well, during this first trip, we didn’t see any of this … although we did feel quite alone. Halfway we ran into this horrific thunderstorm moving north. I’d never seen anything like it before, and I hope never to live a similar experience again. The sky was pitch black. Rain and hail were bashing down on the car. It was if barrels of water were being thrown against the windshield. Even at their highest speed the windshield wipers were unable to clear the view. View? Which view?
By then we had slowed down to about 15 km an hour. I urged my friend to stop under the safety of a bridge. But he said that it would be far more dangerous to stop by the side of the road, where another car could bump into us, than to continue at a very slow pace. Looking back, I suppose he was probably right ...
After about ten seemingly endless minutes, the rain turned into a normal shower and the sky began to clear, as we left the thunderstorm behind us. Arriving in Amboise, we heard people talking about the bad storm that during the night had done a lot of damage to the vineyards. And on the evening news we saw how it had caused floods in Paris.
We got to see the windmills and wheat fields on all our following passages through the Beauce. And I hope we will this year too. I’ll tell you in a week or so, as soon as we get home. See you then!