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

Monday, 26 July 2010

Traffic

With all the hassle about the damp problem, the burning car and my apartment hunting I forgot to tell you about our last day in the Loire Valley. After visiting the basket weaving workshop in Villaines-les-Rochers we decided to return to Vouvray and spend a quiet last evening at the chambre d’hôtes. On the way back we took the wrong exit in one of the many roundabouts. Luckily we noticed it just in time and were able to take an ‘escape route’ a bit further down the road, thus avoiding the five o’clock traffic jams south of Tours.

Back in Vouvray, we parked the car in the courtyard of the chambre d’hôtes. As B. and J.L. had some phone calls to make, I decided to walk over to ‘Le Bouchon’, the little bar down the road, and wait for them there. There was a couple sitting at one of the terrace tables. Presently a young man came cycling up the road. He looked very flushed and was breathing heavily. Exhausted from the steep climb, he put his bike against the railing of the terrace and threw himself in one of the chairs. Valerie, the young landlady of the bar, came out to take our order. The cyclist ordered a Leffe beer.

When I asked for three ‘pressions’ or draught beer the couple and the cyclist turned around to look at me. “Vous avez très soif” (you are very thirsty) the man of the couple said jokingly. And the young cyclist added: “C’est très gentil de nous offrir une bière.” (You’re very kind to buy us a beer). I explained that I was waiting for my friends and made a gesture towards the chambre d’hôtes. As the house is located at the foot of the church, the others assumed that B. and J.L. were inside the church. “Ah, ils vont d’abord à la messe ?”, the man laughed. (They are first attending mass?). It was all very friendly and we continued chatting while Valerie went in to get the beers. At moments like these I can very well picture myself living in the Loire Valley …


The small carpark in front of the church of Vouvray. The terrace of 'Le Bouchon'
is at the far end of it, hidden by the two white cars.

The cyclist drank his beer hastily, while I sipped mine in a more ladylike fashion, with the two extra beers sitting on the table in front of me. When B. and J.L. still hadn’t arrived fifteen minutes later, the man of the couple turned to me again and suggested “Let me take those of your hands.” pointing at the two beers. Finally, my friends arrived. By then the cyclist was gone and the couple was about to leave.

After finishing our beers, we did some last minute shopping. We each bought a jar of rillettes. The one I bought was actually for my friend who couldn’t accompany us on this trip but who just loves rillettes. By the time we got back to the B&B it was half past seven. Until then we had had our daily supper in the kitchen which is at the guests’ disposal. That evening, however, it was warm enough to eat alfresco. Moreover, some other guests, a lady from Hong-Kong and her two teenage daughters were cooking dinner and eating in the kitchen. As we didn’t want to disturb them, we laid out our supper on the outdoor table in front of my room.

We sat around until it was too cold to stay out any longer and went to bed early. The next morning we left immediately after breakfast. It was around 9.30 a.m. We wanted to cover the 250km to Paris before lunch in order to avoid the traffic jams caused by Parisians leaving the city for the then upcoming long Pentecost weekend. By the time we got there, traffic in the opposite direction was already very dense. We made it to the other side of the city in a relatively short lap of time. At some point we were forced to slow down to 40 km per hour, but we never really had to stop and queue.

Around two o’clock we arrived at the rest stop in Péronne, north of Paris, where we each had a generous slice of warm quiche Lorraine and a beer. We reached my apartment around half past five. B. and J.L. still had another 20 km ahead of them as they live north of Brussels. Half past five is about the worst time of the day to tackle the motorway around Brussels, especially on a Friday and even more so if it’s the eve of a long weekend.

B. had promised to call me as soon as they got home. When I still hadn’t heard from them at eight, I called them myself. No one picked up the phone, which had me rather worried. Luckily she called me the next morning. It had taken them over two hours to get home. By the time they had unloaded the car, their son had come round to invite them to dinner. Afterwards it was too late to make the promised call.

Well, this rounds up this year’s Loire Valley trip. For the next 10 months I will have to make do with the 650 photos I shot and reading other Loire Valley blogs and ... Wishing I were in France!

_____

3 comments:

Carolyn said...

Your travels have been fun to read about. I know you'll be researching new places to go for the next 10 months. I might have something to suggest. (Hint: it's not the Loire.)

I see that you stopped at Peronne, which Ken mentioned on his blog. If you can see fine paintings and get a good meal there, maybe I should put it in the encyclopedia.

Leon and Sue Sims said...

If you get a little "Home-sick" for France, as we do, you can follow up with our Wednesdays in France.
Have enjoyed your stories immensely. Thanks for the travel log.
Leon

ladybird said...

Carolyn, I'm glad you've enjoyed reading about my 'adventures'. As for the other destination, let me guess: la Sarthe/le Perche? :)

I've never actually visited the town of Péronne, only the rest stop on the motorway. The quiche we had was lovely, but the place itself is just another gas station where people make a quick 'pit stop'. But I agree that CHM's grandfather's paintings are certainly worth the detour.


Leon, Thanks! I've been following your weekly posts on France and they are fascinating, especially the one about the ruins. You can certainly consider me as a regular - even daily - visitor of your blog. :)