Monday, July 17, 2017

Chateau de Beaugency


Right on the banks of the Loire River, Beaugency is a bustling little town on a Sunday afternoon, or at least, it was on the Sunday afternoon we arrived to view the Chateau de Beaugency. There was a town-wide jumble sale.

Everyone must have cleared out their attics (Maybe it was laundry day and they needed room to dry the laundry) and put it out for sale - The flea market easily covered four or five streets of the little town. If you love flea markets this is the place to be...


Unfortunately I abhor them. The thought of holding on to my own junk, never mind buying someone else's, makes me shudder!

Fortunately, I love castles and this place had a massive one right in the center of town. This was another of my heroine, Joan of Arc's hangouts. You go girl!

This castle was all teched up - with your entrance ticket you received a tablet that guided you through the castle.

Again, here's another castle where you could walk around in all by yourself due to the lack of tourists...always a great thing!

The solitude made the suits of armour that little bit more real, more creepy, and the one of the horse was particularly good.

The mock up of the various rooms was really interesting.

Everything had that "Game of Thrones" feel to it.

We explored all the way to the top of the highest tower.

Enjoying the view of this medieval town from the window.

We had to return the hire car to Orly Airport by 7pm so it was time to head northwards. I spotted another couple of castles along the route in google maps (swinging a little west of the direct route but do-able) so we decided to max-out our castle experience and try to see those too.

The first one was Chateau de Chateaudun, but upon arrival we discovered that the castle was closed because they were having a theatre production in the grounds (which we had neither the time nor the inclination for.) But the nice lady at the gate let me take a couple of pictures

 And I helped myself to one over the wall too

The zoom lens came in handy.

We were back on the road again, leaving Chateaudun as Chateau-not-dun!

By this stage, we were really off the beaten track - usually a place we like to be, but for being within fifty miles of Paris, this area felt incredibly remote. It was as if the big city had sucked all commerce up and left a vaccum. There was nothing open in any of the tiny villages and no petrol stations at all - more a problem due to my needing to pee than us needing petrol. Still, we were fairly sure that we could remedy that at our next stop - Chateau de Baronville.

As we followed the route on google maps, the roads became smaller at every intersection until were were driving along something that you'd find in a Grimms fairytale!

There were signposts for Castle Baronville, but as we closed in very confusing signs told us we were on private property. It felt like such a contradiction to have both, and we pressed on, not least because my bladder was pressing on too!

But the gates to the castle had a massive private sign - one that could not be argued with. So I as talked my urge to pee off the ledge, we turned the car but decided to continue up the tiny lane in the hopes that I'd find a suitable gap...

Suddenly, My Husband swore and said, "I'm not going to be able to stop now, there's a guy right up my arse."

I turned to look and sure enough the car behind seemed in a huge hurry. I could almost see the driver's nose-hair, he was that close.

"Maybe we should pull over to let him past," I said, forgetting the bladder situation for the moment.

"There's a junction ahead. Maybe he'll go a different way, maybe the road's bigger and he can pass us."

We turned right onto a main road, and the car behind us... it did a U-turn!!

Then the penny dropped - they had been "escorting" us off their private land. We were completely freaked out by this and decided to head straight back to Orly and get our asses back to Paris ASAP!

In all my travels I can't remember being so creeped out in a remote area (except maybe for the time in Northern India when we wandered into an area that had old land mines in it. Although we didn't know there was land mines until afterwards and thankfully hadn't set any off. Everyone was okay but thoroughly spooked out!)The whole feel of these wee towns was weird and unwelcoming.

It was with great relief that we arrived in Orly and handed back the car. No relief, however, when we got home to a city baking in 35°C. Back to putting the towels in the freezer. Oh, the joys of living in Paris in the summer!

Byddi Lee

Monday, July 10, 2017

Chateau Meung-sur-Loire

It's enough to strike fear into the heart of even the most stalwart Parisian, never mind softie Paris dwellers such as us...

...A polite notice in the hallway of our apartment building telling us that there is going to be a party in the apartment above us on a weekend when the temperatures are set to soar above 30°C. Sure we were invited, but we don't know anyone, can barely speak the language and are about 20 years too old for this sort of shenanigans!

I'm pretty sure this is karma getting me back for all the parties I had back in the Holy Lands of Belfast. Ironically, my neighbor was French! I remember finding her during one party at 2 am, plonked on my sofa with a glass of wine in one hand and a plate of food in the other as one of my drunken buddies pressed her to eat, drink and stay a while. The poor woman had just come in to ask us to turn down the music so her 1-year-old and 3-year-old could sleep. Oh, Lord, I'm so going to hell - or maybe I'm there already! Still, our French neighbor in Belfast often got her own back when she let her kids scream for hours and hours often at 7 am on a Sunday morning...people in our street didn't get much sleep back then. But back then I was young and fit for it ...not so now!

So I decided we needed a trip to a place that was quiet and that had air-conditioning. I fancied the Loire Valley, the nearest town being Orleans. For 50 Euros I could get us a nice room overlooking an empty parking lot and some disused land (who needs a view when you have a lovely one all year round?) The building was new and characterless - exactly what we needed after our quirky Paris pad and the cool!

We took the train to Orly airport and picked up a car for 30 Euro and hit the road - a night away for under 100 Euro and no rave music to listen too - heaven!

We checked in then headed for the nearest Chateau.

To be honest, I expected to be able to drive along the Loire Valley and see the castles looking down upon me, but you kind of have to search them out down winding country roads and potter through picturesque (and seemingly deserted) country villages.

The first one we found was Chateau Meung-Sur-Loire. It felt very off the beaten track since we were the only ones there. It's unheard of in Paris to have anything to yourself never mind an entire castle, and it was wonderful. Oh, and it was pink! How perfect for me - I'll take two...

Joan of Arc - a saint I admire so much I took her name for my confirmation name - hung out in these parts. It was where she kicked English butt before the church turned on her and decided that a girl couldn't wear trousers! At least they made her a saint but not before burning her at the stake.

It weird to think she may have worn these suits of armor or talked to someone wearing them. I think this one looks like C-3PO

This scene held such a fairly tale magic about it.

And the best thing about this place was you didn't have to wonder where these stairs went - you could go everywhere in the castle. It was time to explore.

I enjoyed how the rooms were staged - medieval style.

I did wonder about the headless cook though...

The bedrooms looked luxurious.

We even got to go to the attic, which had old toys stored in it - what else! It reminded me of the attic in my parents home with all our old toys in it - except ours were smaller and less castley!

In this interesting sign about the attic, I was appalled to learn that they only did laundry twice a year! That must have stank...

Then they hung it to dry in the attic - hardly lenor freshness!

Thankfully this castle did have a bathroom, complete with sunken bath.

or not sunken - if you prefered. I mean if you own a whole castle, why not have a few different baths to choose from?

Not to mention comodes and potties!

And of course you'd have your very own church.

With an altar to none other than Joan of Arc.

The village was adorable - though somewhat empty. Where are all the people?

Why do all the cute shops always seem to be closed?

We never seem to get the rhythms of France quite right. We're usually too late for lunch and too early for dinner!
But it all makes for pretty pictures.

That night we put on the AC, pulled the shutters and slept like babies  - Refreshed and ready to view more castles the next day.

Byddi Lee