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

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

A quiet evening

After our interesting visit of Valmer castle, our first day in de Loire Valley was slowly drawing to an end. It had been a very intense experience: leaving Brussels a t 5 a.m., driving the 550 km to Amboise, shopping at Amboise Sunday market, a musical aperitif, a delicious lunch, wine tasting at the ‘Cave des Vignerons’ and seeing the gardens of Valmer. 

It was almost 5 p.m. – 12 busy, busy hours since leaving Brussels – when we returned to the car (and the overwhelming ‘aroma’ of the ‘dead goat’) to drive to our last destination of the day: our Bed and Breakfast in Vouvray. It’s located at the foot of the village church and the chiming bell tower is one of the place’s mind-clinging characteristics. This was my fourth stay at this B&B and I know from experience that you only hear them the first night. From the second night on, they become part of the charm and when you wake up during the night you kind of like to stay awake till the next chime: one on the half hour and the chimes on the hour, telling you the time. At seven in the morning the village priest ‘sonne les matines’:

The Vouvray bell tower.

Wikipedia: In the West, the Office of Matins or Vigils is the first office of the curriculum of the Divine Office, intended to sanctify the time of the night. It is characterized by a prolonged chant (reciting psalms alternating), interspersed with readings and song of long responses for the internalization of readings. The time of its celebration has varied greatly throughout history. Originally it was sung at the end of the night. The time of its commencement was calculated so that the Office of Lauds that follows begins at sunrise. During the Middle Ages it came to be celebrated at a fixed time in the middle of the night, then in the evening, after Compline and before bedtime. By the fact of a tolerance much more recent, the secular clergy could recite it at a time that suited them, in their pastoral activities …

My troglodyte room.

In this case the bells are ringing to inform the congregation that morning prayers are about to commence. I don’t know whether any of the Vouvray inhabitants actually attend these morning prayers in church. At that time of the day, I’m still in my comfortable bed, relaxing, knowing that I still have another hour before I have to get up (a nice change from my daily routine when I need to get up at quarter to six to go to work), looking forward to the day that lies ahead. 

‘My room’ is located in a troglodyte cave, with all the modern amenities: an extremely comfortable bed, a bathroom with a toilet, shower, hairdryer, fluffy white towels, courtesy soap, shower gel and shampoo. The room doesn’t have air co, because the 10 or so metres of solid rock efficiently keep out the cold and the heat. Mats and Vera had one of the four rooms in the outbuilding. It’s located on the ground floor, next to the main kitchen where breakfast is served every morning between 8 and 10.30 a.m.

Mats and Vera enjoying an alfresco picnic supper.

That first evening we had a light alfresco picnic supper on the terrace in front of my room. Although we were very tired, we really enjoyed it talking about what we had seen that day and our plans for the next day. We decided to have a well-deserved late morning, with breakfast at 9. I was in bed before ten and fell asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow …


Carolyn said...

That courtyard looks charming.

The Broad said...

You description make me sigh with the thought of how perfect it all sounds ... (sigh!)

Louise said...

The B & B looks stunning...I am sighing with The Broad! Your post transports me. Thanks Martine, reading your blog is a great way to start my day!

ladybird said...

Carolyn, I have a 'sunny' 2008 version of this as a screensaver on my mobile phone. Whenever I feel depressed, I look at it and my spirits are lifted!

Kathie, It IS perfect ;)

Louise, I knew you would like this. It's almost as peaceful as the views from your beach house.