Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Getting there

We set out on our Loire Valley trip on Sunday, May 16th, at five in the morning. The sun hadn’t come up yet and the thermometer indicated a chilly, or should I even say cold, 4°C. We stowed my luggage, including my faithful picnic hamper into the boot of the car. I also took my laptop, but that turned out to be a waste of time and energy as the wireless connection at the chambre d’hôtes was out of order. Hence, the lack of blog updates last week.

By the time we had reached the Belgian border the sun had come up, but … it had also started to rain. We remained optimistic though as the weather forecast for the coming days was rather promising.

We took a brief ‘pit stop’ north of Paris. J.L. thought it would be a good idea for me to take B.’s place in the passenger seat as I knew my way around the Paris’ ‘Périphérique’ from our earlier trips. It turned out not to be necessary because the back seat of the Citroën Picasso offered a very clear view of the road ahead.

The drive around Paris’ western ‘périphe’ was ‘fluide’ (as the signs over the road indicated), and it took less than half an hour to reach the ‘Porte d’Orléans’, the gateway to the Loire Valley and southern France. By nine we were having breakfast (pains au chocolat, croissants and ‘Suisse*’ with coffee and orange juice). Half an hour later we were on the road again.

In the meantime the thermometer in the car indicated a mere 10°C, with a stiff wind blowing form the north-west. The good news was that the sky was beginning to show some patches of blue. The rest of the trip was uneventful, with J.L. driving in a very relaxed way and B. dozing in the front seat. I enjoyed the scenery and from time to time commented on some of the features in the landscape.

In ‘La Beauce’ (I’ve posted about the region in one of my earliest posts) I attracted my friends’ attention to the many wind turbines and explained a little about the region’s history. The new wind turbines, which have replaced the original wooden windmills, made a very pretty picture against the clear blue sky and the bright yellow of the colza fields.

One of the many wind turbines in 'La Beauce', surrounded
by colza fields.

We arrived in Amboise at half past eleven; slightly later than usual, because J.L’s relaxed driving style – never going faster than 110 km/hour – is completely different from my friend’s, who keeps an average of 130 km/hour. The market was in full swing and the town was full of people. A first time visitor would have had a lot of trouble finding a place to park the car. Fortunately, over the years, I’ve learned what to look out for. We were extremely lucky to find a spot close to main entrance to the market, which is situated on the quays of the Loire.

The way leading into Amboise's Sunday market.

When we got out of the car, we were surprised by the temperature. By then it had reached 16°C. In the sun and out of the wind, it felt really warm and pleasant. J.L. decided he didn’t need a jacket. B. and I were more careful and kept our ‘fleeces’. We agreed on a meeting point, in case we got separated, and set out to do our picnic shopping and enjoy the atmosphere that is so typical to French markets.

(*) 'Suisse' is the typical Belgian name for this kind of pastry. Do you know what it stands for?

More to come...



Carolyn said...

Hmm, I don't know what a Suisse is, but it's something I definitely need to know.

ladybird said...

Carolyn, Glad you've asked! I promise to take a short break in my Loire adventure posts to write about the 'Suisse' and even post a photo. I hope you don't mind waiting for a few days :))