Sunday, May 15, 2011

France/Netherlands 1988 - entries 15-19

Saturday, September 3

We left Ambois, after breakfast, for Azay le Rideau, arriving about 11:30. It is raining and raincoats and umbrellas are required. Our new hotel The Monarque is much brighter – very French – a lovely outside terrace between buildings. The lobby and stairways are dingy, but the dining room is lovely all in pink damask with real oak paneling up ¾ of the wall. The rooms are newly papered in blue and white stripes. We had lunch at a grille that was an old stable – very nice. The town is very old and the buildings of grey stucco are brightened up with flowers. The Indre River winds in and out. We went to Azal re Lideau Chateau in the afternoon. It is owned by the state, having burned in 1418 and reconstructed in 1518 by the finance minister of Francoise I. It is a small chateau as they run, but very lovely.

In the evening after our dinner we attended a luminere show, which was all in French. The lovely costumes and magnificent lighting along with renaissance music was delightful. The story we couldn’t follow, but the French language is so beautiful, we did enjoy. The afternoon was spent in Montbazon at a gorgeous Relais built in 1927, but ageless as it looks like a renaissance chateau. The interior is magnificent but rates run about $200/day. Not quite right for this town but a lovely choice. We didn’t see any guests. Rain let up long enough for our luminere show, but most of the day was showers.

Sunday, September 4

We left Azay le Rideau as it was raining and we visited Villandry after checking out of our hotel. It is a lovely small Chateau but the gardens are especially superb. We loved the flowers but the veggies were even more beautiful. Small espaliered apple trees and pear trees, heavy with fruit. It rained. We lunched in the town of Azay in a little restaurant and visited the Chocolatier for dessert – the best patisserie in France according to a man we met. “Samson.” Then we drove to Urse – run down in bad pair “rip-off.” We stayed in the Hotel de France – very nice, small hotel. Oakleys and Merrells at Chateau nearby. 

Monday, September 5

Wake in Chinon and left after a concert by a friend we met from Lawrenceville, N. J. He plays piano at “The Landing” in New Hope – named Al. What a fun guy – he and wife go to Hotel de France every year. We drove to see Oakleys and Merrells at the Chateau D’Anzay in Chinon – a real 15th century chateau – lovely. We drove all day to La Croisic at end of point near La Baulle. We didn’t like La Baulle as it was very high rise – like 6 Miamis in a row across from beach and ocean. It seems as if there are more old people here than anywhere else in France. We rented terrific studio apartments at $36/night all on same floor overlooking a rocky shore. We had a rip-roaring cocktail party at the terrace off Oakleys’ rooms. Vodka and Indian tonic; great cheese and crakers. Nice change from Vino. Oaklays and Clarks went for the usual 5 course dinner. Merrells went to the creperie with us. Crepes very common here – used for 3 meals. They were delicious with egg and sausage, then turned into a roll. Early to bed.

Tuesday, September 6

Looks like a promising day ahead so we’ll stay here and bike. The day turned out to be gorgeous – hot and sunny, 78 degrees. The bikes are good and the roads safe. The rocky coast is beautiful as we bike along. Many houses are closed up for the season but the homes are very quaint – lots of stucco painted white with bright shutters – pretty windows with boxes of flowers. We put a picnic together and found a fabulous beach; many topless bathers but we had a great time. Biked to La Baulle and back along mostly beach and rocks and had some great visits with native French people. John does well with the French. We biked back to town and went to the coutourier and bought the sweater I had admired – too expensive but I will have a memento of Croisic. 

While on our bikes along the ocean we stopped for a beer in the late afternoon. A French lady came along and we started to chat. We invited her to join us so she excused herself to close her restaurant while she visited. This is typical. They are very relaxed. All stores close from 12:30 – 3:30 for lunch. You have to shop early in the day. We may go back to the French lady’s restaurant for dinner. The sunset was gorgeous and we watched it set before going into the D’Atlantic for dinner. Fabulous fish – John and I had sole – wonderful. Jim and Jeannice had seafood place for two. It was a beautiful presentation – all cold crab, periwinkle, oysters, lagnastinos, crevittes, clams.

Wednesday, September 7

Jim knocked on our door at seven so we’d get an early start. We were on our way by 8:30. A little town nearby called Pouliguen was on our way so we stopped for petit dejeuner and laughed all day about the event. We arrived – the place was empty and quiet. Eight of us wanted breakfast and the lady started making coffee – sent a family member for bread, another for beausre, another for coufiture. They arrived one by one – each one bringing friends to see the Americans. We ended up with our breakfast finally and it was hilarious. 

We drove to Dinan for lunch and on to Normandy. We have to miss Jersey and Dinard and St.Malo. We stopped at Mont St. Michel. It is very impressive but a terrible tourist trap. The castle is at the top of the rock. We walked up 1000 stairs to the chapel. The tide was out so far we couldn’t see the water. It rises as high as 50 ft – highest in the world. They have harnessed its energy for electric power. We drove on Bayeux looking for a hotel and spotted a B&B sign on the road. Following it took us to a 170-year-old farm that is lovely. The family here, Marcel & Joslyn, made us welcome with wine and tea on their terrace and prepared our dinner. It is a most interesting house. Marcel is an artist and we had a fun evening. John’s French is helpful and funny as we try to communicate. This is the home of Calvados and we finished dinner with a little glass. She served a salad with wonderful home-baked bread after a vegetable soup. Then we had a lamb brochette, French frys, champignons. For dessert a great raspberry sorbet and coffee. We are tired so off to bed. Tomorrow will be a busy day of the cemeteries and Utah Beach. A gorgeous day – warm and sunny – most have been 75 to 80.

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