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

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The scenic route – part 1


We set out on our trip to the Loire Valley on Saturday at 6.a.m. I was all ready and packed to go when B. and J.L. arrived on my doorstep. They had left their home at 5.40 a.m. and had had an easy drive, traffic being really rare at this ungodly hour of the day. Ungodly on a Saturday, that is. During the week it would have taken them over an hour to cover the same distance.


J.L. immediately ‘warned’ me that we wouldn’t be taking the same route as we did in 2010 when I introduced them to La Touraine. In the past, we always took the motorway A1 to the ‘Porte de la Chapelle’, north of Paris. We then followed the ‘Périphérique Ouest’ to the Porte d’Orléans, and the gateway to ‘L’Aquitaine’, the motorway towards Orléans, Blois, Amboise, Tours …. On a Sunday morning (we used to leave on a Sunday at 5 a.m.) this itinerary of 550 km saw us in Amboise between 10.30 and 11 a.m. … well in time to visit the Amboise market, followed by an aperitif at le Café du Château at the foot of the castle.

The A1 motorway north of Senlis.

This time, however, we were to take the scenic route. Before leaving the motorway at Senlis, way north of Paris, we stopped at a service station for a sanitary stop and a quick breakfast of croissants, pain au chocolat and coffee and orange juice. At the first exit after the service station we turned towards the east, following some meandering routes ‘nationales’ et ‘départementales, till we reached ‘La Francilienne’. South of Paris we took the route nationale towards Orléans.

My standard service station breakfast: 'pain au chocolat' and orange juice.

Just for the record, in Belgium a' pain au chocolat' is called 'une couque au chocolat'.


Leaving the motorway really slowed us down, because we passed through several villages with a speed limit of 50 km/h and sometimes even 30 km/h, an obligation that was enforced by the may ‘casses-vitesses’ and traffic lights. In Cercotte, a village north of Orléans, I shot this photo of the Mairie, while waiting for the traffic light to turn green. Apparently, the Mairie also hosted or still hosts the primary school. A common phenomenon in France where public buildings seem to have multiple functions.

The village hall and primary school in Cercotte.

After Cercotte it was time to tackle the slow yet fluid crossing of Orléans. It was there that I caught a first glimpse of La Loire after a long, cold, snowy winter in Belgium … 



... at last! It almost felt like coming home!

P.S. I would like to apologize for the poor quality of the photos, which were all shot (except for the breakfast) from the moving car.

13 comments:

Carolyn said...

Never mind photo quality. I'm happy to look at any of your photos of the Loire.

Craig said...

You were very lucky with the weather! It looks beautiful. Yes those scenic routes are lovely but really extend the time don't they? I recall us making a similar decision and drove from Cognac to Saint Raphael via D roads - it took us almost 12 hours and we were at each others throats by the time we arrived!
Looking forward to hearing more of your holiday.

chm said...

Just s Carolyn said, don't worry. I enjoy any kind of photo when it goes with the narrative — and even if it doesn't. Glad you're back in cyberspace.

The Broad said...

Going to The Lot we now always avoid Paris and instead travel from Calais to Rouen and then to Chartres and Orleans -- so we have a mixture of roads on our travels. I love your pictures and congratulations on selecting a time with good weather!

Nadege said...

As long as you had a safe and enjoyable trip, not pressed by time, it really doesn't matter how long it takes. The photos are fine. The mairie/school reminds me of a wonderful movie "etre et avoir" ("to be and to have").

GaynorB said...

We took the N roads back after meeting you. Much slower and busier.

We also got a 90 euro fine from the police. You can guess why!!

VirginiaC said...

I'm so happy that you have begun to post your photos from your trip.
I enjoyed them, whether taken from a moving car or not.
Looking forward to the next leg of your trip.
Keep well.

Louise said...

I agree that the "little" roads are more time consuming, but I do so enjoy meandering when time permits, the sleepy villages are are joy to explore for this Aussie!

Jean said...

We always intend to take the scenic route, but in the end we just want to get here as fast as possible every time !!

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Hello Martine,,thank you so much for your lovely birthday wishes . Absolutely understand about blogging and photos etc, I have been back from Monaco about two weeks , and I have not managed much , photos need editing too.
My friend and I went on a coach tour to Monaco ,took us two days to get there (with an over night stop on route) it was super.

How wonderful are the service stations over there,, I think they are fab.. Take care , cannot wait to read more.

ladybird said...

Carolyn, Wait till you see them ... although I must admit that I won't post the fuzzy ones :)

Craig, Yes the weather was ideal! I understand what you mean about D roads. They are fun when you are 'visiting' but not to get to your destination.

Chm, I feels good to back and I'am really inspired. As always, La Touraine is the best place (for me at last) ... pour se resourcer.

Kathie, I don't know whether is aws teh rabbit's foot or the candle that did the weather trick.

Nadege, I thought the school building look really nice, with the flags flying in the wind and the blue sky.

Gaynor, A fine?!!! I'm so sorry to hear that. Was it speeding or the bubbles from Vouvray? Tim was very sensible all through the meal though ... so it must be a speeding ticket.

Virginia, Thank you. It's great fun to share the photos and stories with you.

Louise, It's true that French villages are really 'sleepy'. We often wonder were all the people have gone.

Jean, I'm like you. I want to get to my destination as fast as possible ... Especially on a warm and sunny day I can't wait to get there and enjoy the calm, the people, the scenery, the food ...

Anne, I've never been to Monaco, but I sure would like to go there. Will you be posting photos on your blog?

Leon and Sue Sims said...

Sue says the same about visits to the Loire - it feels like coming home.
Strange to say that we have probably only been about 4 times in 6 years but it has that feel about it, doesn't it Martine?

ladybird said...

L&S, I've been to the Loire so many times now and have so many friends there, that it really feels like home. Maybe one day ... who knows?!