Friday, April 12, 1996 Chartres, France
Jim was up and down from about 4 am. I got up about six and washed my hair. We putts around until about 8 am when we called Barbara. She’d been awake since seven. We decided to get ready to leave at 8:30 am. Everyone seems to have slept well. The beds were great. Had the opportunity to work on the journal this morning and am all caught up! Left the hotel and went to see the Cathedrale St. Gatien which is in Tours. Very large and in the middle of a renovation. Many statutes were gone, probably out for repairs. Will probably be great in about ten years. There were also some Roman ruins that were exposed nearby. Apparently they’ve excavated in preparation to build a new building.
Then we started to tour the Loire Valley which is famous for it’s châteaux. Our first one was the Château d’Azay-le-Rideau. It was nice but state owned and many of the rooms were being repaired and therefore not opened for viewing. We were not very impressed. Then we started down the road to our second one.
Along the way Jim spotted a sign for the Mussee of Balzac, the famous French writer. We agreed to give him ten minutes and no more to find it. Down the country road we went. Had just about reached the end of his time when we spotted it. He took pictures as Barbara and I read a large map which was posted in the parking area. We discovered that if we continued on this road, we’d save some time getting to the next Chateau.
Also, we’d be seeing a much more scenic route along the Loire River. Balzac’s Museum was located at Sache. As we made a turn in the town of Montbazon, we saw a huge statute of the Virgin Mary atop some ruins…we thought possibly a medieval church. Stopped to investigate and stayed for lunch at a beautiful restaurant in town. Also spotted our first Century 21 “for sale” sign in this town.
Back on the road we found that we got lost in nearly every town because the road numbers were difficult to find. But, we’d just turn around, go back to where we’d last seen the sign and start forward again. We always managed to find our way! The next chateau was worth the entire day. It is the one that is built over the river Cher and is called Chateau de Chennceaux. It was built in the 15th century and is still owned by private people. Absolutely stunning. We decided not to spoil the effect and go straight to Chartres from here.
On the road to the Autoroutes at Blois and then we whizzed pass Orleans and reached Chartres about 6 pm. We parked outside the Cathedral and walked to the Best Western Hotel, it definitely was not across the street (as it said in the book). It was about five blocks away. They didn’t have rooms for us on the same floor. So off we went to another hotel, didn’t like the smell of this one so we checked out another one! Took this one…has lots of “character” and is named Hotel du Bouef Couronne.
We headed back towards the car and a look at the inside of the church before dark. Barbara was very impressed with the color of the blue in the windows. Even close to dark on a cloudy day it is spectacular. Moved the car over, unloaded the bags. About this time, I used Barbara’s WC and couldn’t get out of the bathroom. The door handle was so close to the door jam, I couldn’t turn the handle. Jim had to come open the door! Gave us all a good laugh. Barbara has to turn the water on to fill the tank before flushing her toilet! Bed’s are extremely lumpy. Jim and I are sharing a very bad double bed. But, it’s only a couple of blocks from the Cathedral. Barbara has a great view of the church from her window.
We left for dinner at a nice restaurant we’d seen on the way back to the car. Saw a travel agency with wonderful things from India; cobra in basket, people, flying carpets, etc. all made from leggos. Went back to the hotel to call Wendy. Everything is fine, Jim is set for Porsche factory tour on Wednesday. Mary and Jay have rented an apartment in the city in San Francisco. Starting to rain lightly. Took umbrellas and went back up to see the church at night with the lights on it. A new experience for everyone. Then back to the hotel and our added experience of a “quaint” hotel!