As you already know, we had a shaky start. Due to some ferry trouble in Denmark, Mats and Vera had to make a three hour detour to go by the bridges. Because of this unforeseen incident their ETA became 10 p.m. instead of the initially planned 7 p.m. Luckily I hadn’t booked a table at the restaurant yet as they decided to grab a bite to eat somewhere on the road, pushing on to get here as soon as possible. We agreed that they would drop in at my apartment to have a drink together before checking in at their nearby hotel.
They arrived at 10 p.m. on the dot! They brought a nice present of 6 half bottles of German wine; a fine selection of red, white and rosé. Although this was my first meeting with Vera – I’ve known Mats for 39 years – we immediately hit it off! I opened a bottle of Champagne and we each had two glasses. As they were exhausted from their eventful drive south, we parted at 11 p.m. after putting some of my stuff in their car. I never travel to the Loire Valley without a picnic hamper. And there were also the ‘tons’ of chocolates that I had bought as surprise gifts for my blogger friends.
After adding these items to Mats’ already well packed car, we said goodbye for the night. Although their arrival was much later than initially planned, we decided to stick to the original plan and leave for France between 5 and 5.30 a.m. the next day. Despite all the excitement, I slept surprisingly well until … 4 a.m. when my alarm clock rang. My suitcase was already packed and I was ready to go by quarter to 5. My friends arrived at the agreed time and we were on the road before 5.30 a.m.
Breakfast south of Paris.
I had bought some croissants and we had those at the French border while filling up the car and having a coffee. Mats drove the first part of the trip and Vera took a short nap. We got to Paris before half past 8, which was fine, traffic-wise. There was a short traffic jam at the entrance of the Périphérique Ouest, because of a car accident, but after that it was ‘fluid’ all the way to the Porte d’Orléans and the exit towards Bordeaux.
We stopped at the first fuel station on the A10 motorway, where we had a proper breakfast. Mats and I both had a ‘jambon beurre’ (baguette with butter and ham). Vera had a ‘pain aux olives’ (a small olive baguette). There was coffee and orange juice too.
Vera took over the wheel, while Mats napped after driving the first 370 km or so. Although my eyelids were very heavy I decided to stay awake because I didn’t want to miss a second of this trip. As usual we drove through ‘La Beauce’ also known as ‘windmill country’ and one of France's most productive agricultural areas.
Wind turbines in La Beauce.
Notice the menancing skies!
Notice the menancing skies!
The ride was smooth and we made very good progress, arriving in Amboise shortly before 11 o’clock. We had quite a bit of rain on the way and the skies remained menacingly dark most of the time. However, when we reached Amboise the sun was shining and the weekly market was in full swing. The town was full of people, because of this and the yearly Brass Band Festival that attracts crowds from all parts of France. Parking spots were rare, but Vera agilely manoeuvred the big car into a spot close to the market. Being an awkward driver myself I really admired her and Mats’ driving and parking skills all through our trip.