Thursday, April 11, 1996 Tours, France
We were up before 7 am and on the road by 8 am. I had a very strange bed last night. It was like sleeping on top of a giant pillow. The whole body just kind of sunk into it. Took a while to get out of town as we were headed out on the local roads to Limoges as the Autoroutes won’t take us there. We are going through lots of small towns on a winding, hilly two lane (one in each direction). We finally found a gas station with toilettes and got 70 franc’s worth of gas to use the WC! Jim just said to add that he’s had to cinch his belt up a notch.
He’s outside right now taking videos of a large estate that belongs to Clos du Mas, a very wealthy Frenchman who has the world’s greatest collection of Ferraris. The estate here has a race course and a beautiful home. Les Puy between Aubusson and Limoges on N141. He spoke to a mechanic who let him walk in and take some photos. It takes him about an hour to get to Paris from here in his Ferrari. He even has a private gas pump about half way. It would easily take several hours for the normal automobile and driver. This is his main home and he has other homes throughout Europe.
Back on the country road towards Limoges and the Porcelain Factory. Arrived about 11:30 am and spent some time in city. Found an information booth with a real live lady who gave us a city map and showed us the route to the one and only place we could see anything about the history and/or how they are made! A real disappointment that we couldn’t actually get into the real factory.
Took us a while but we finally managed to find the surface street to Toulouse instead of the Autoroutes as this was the location. Arrived and had lunch at the Buffalo Grill next door. Right out the old west! Complete with denim western style skirts on the waitress. Bread and a salad were served BEFORE she took the order! Barbara Jim had BBQ Ribs and I had BBQ chicken. Then off to the substitute for the porcelain factory. They specialized in Havalian China and had a small historical museum display in glass cases. They didn’t have Barbara’s pattern but she purchased two small egg shaped cases and I got a pendent for Priscilla and a small thimble for myself as a remembrance. Took a detour to town to check out another possibility. Then back on the road by 2 pm towards Tours. Arrived there about 4:30 pm.
While on the road we read the books and talked about which of the chateau’s we’re going to see tomorrow. There are about one hundred sixty chateaux in the Loire Valley. Barbara’s book recommends six and we are trying to limit Jim to three of those.
Arrived in Tours and found a very nice Holiday Inn next to the train station. One of the easiest to find yet! No Stress! It’s in Jim’s Entertainment Book and so we’re getting half price. They are taking us without the twenty-four hour notice that the book said they required. We do however, tend to get the less desirable rooms that are set aside for the program. Generally, less of a view and definitely tend to be noisy! But this one overlooks the train yards and being that they are electric we don’t mind as it brings back memories for all of us when we liked to watch trains as children. Also, the number of arrivals and departures reduced during the night.
Walked the streets, mostly shopping centers. Had fun in a Pier One shop. Checked out lots of eating places. We were looking for soup as we’d had a big lunch. Finally found a church after I used the “sign of the cross” to ask for directions. It was a neighborhood one with beautiful stained glass windows. We’ll find the larger one tomorrow morning before we head out to our miniature Tour of the Loire Valley. Walked back to one of the first restaurants that we’d seen, very close to the hotel. Sat at the window and had a nice supper…Jim had a mushroom omelet, Barbara and I had onion soup. Barb had a great tomato and egg salad while I polished off a strawberry sundae. Back at the hotel, Jim watched TV and I went to Barbara’s room and read her the Journal since Munich arrival. Took about an hour and half. Off to bed before 11 pm.