ON THE ROAD AGAIN…..
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Awake at3:30 am…good thing we went to bed early…and got up at 4:30 with the alarm clock! By five we were out the door on the short two block walk to the train station. It had rained all night but for a short time around 5 am this morning…the rain STOPPED! Yes, the ground was wet and there were large puddles but no rain during our walk.
The train arrived at 5:20 am and we were at GDG 2 by 5:45 am. The place was empty…actually the station wasn’t officially open and we had to go around some barriers to get into the terminal from the train station. Walked to Terminal 2E to meet Terry and Linda…the board said they’d arrived at 5:35 am…half an hour early. But no sign of them so Jim found a table and I was ordering croissants, chocolate and coffee when they walked out. They’d eaten on the plane so with our light breakfast we were ready to roll.
Called the Peugeot company and they said their van was on the way to pick us up outside of Exit 7 at the arrival terminal. Soon we were on our way to the lot to pick up our brand new car. Remember we are not renting a car but doing a lease/purchase that will be sold back to the company on May 24th when we return to Paris.
We did the paperwork…they gave us some instructions on the GPS system and said…stop at the first gas station for diesel…you’ve only got a small amount in the car! They programmed our GPS for the Chateau of Vaux le Vicomte outside of Melun and off we went. We ignored the GPS and tried to follow the printed map that they’d given to us for the gas station…all we could imagine was the four of us stranded without gas! With three backseat drivers all giving directions at the same time; Terry managed to find the gas station with only a few wrong turns. Oops…it was CLOSED! We then decided to go into the village of Roissy; no gas stations to be found! Stopped at a group of policemen…one spoke English….a little bit….and tried to help us by drawing a map to the nearest station. When we looked at the map…it was the one that was closed. So we decided to go back to the where we’d picked up the car…took a wrong turn and ended up on the A4 that was bumper to bumper with traffic heading into Paris.
One wrong turn followed another but finally Linda saw the sign and we were back. They assured us that we had enough gas if we would follow the GPS and that we would find several stations on our route to Mulen. All of this in the driving rain in a new car with the driver having had no sleep all night! But…they were right…we finally found the gas station and once we realized which pump to use for diesel and for cash…we were able to fill the tank finally. It took 51 liters of diesel to the tune of 75 euros! Hopefully we’ll never be that empty again.
Back on the road again it was now 8:30 am. We headed south east around Paris and by 9:30 we were outside the gates of the Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte….the parking lot was empty…not open until 10 am ….so we drove down the road to see the village of Blandy les Tours that has a fort in the center of town. Finally, our first real photo opportunity for Terry who is an avid photographer and has just converted to a digital camera. . His trigger finger was itching for some good shots. We could have used some sunshine but at least it wasn’t raining while we were there.
Back to the Chateau, it had opened and we paid our entry fees (both received reduced tariffs which was nice) and headed in to tour the Chateau. The belfry tower is totally covered for restoration and really spoiled the special magic that Jim and I have always found with this beautiful Chateau in the French countryside. And being a gloomy day didn’t help. One of the fun things is touring the attic and of course that was closed because of the work being done.
But we strolled through the many rooms of the Chateau; walked into the gardens just a little ways as it was starting to rain and then we went over to the carriage barns before completing our tour.
It was nearly noon and everyone was hungry so we stopped at the French McDoo for a light lunch (yes…it was McDonalds)…before getting on the highway for Fontainebleau. It was only about twenty five miles down the road but by the time we arrived the rain was pouring. We’d only intended to see the gardens and decided to drive on when the rain didn’t stop.
Two hours later we arrived in Veselay; a small village off the main highway; the home of La Basilique Sainte-Madeleine. This is one of the stopping points for pilgrims who are walking the trail to Santiago de Compostela church in Spain. We saw several pilgrims fully loaded with backpacks leaving from the church.
Our hotel this evening is the Hotel de la Poste et du Lion d’Or in Veselay. We checked in and then walked … partially in the rain…to the church which is still undergoing restoration. The main body of the church is finished inside and is absolutely beautiful. It was such a joy to visit after so many years. We also visited the crypt which has relics of Saint Madeleine. The church is located at the crest of a large hill and we enjoyed the view of the Burgandy countryside from the park that surrounds the back of the church during a lull in the rainstorm.
Walking back to the hotel we investigated all the various restaurants for tonight’s dinner. The earliest we could find was 7 pm. Finally, about 6 pm we walked over to the Relais du Morvan that is next door to our hotel (the restaurant was closed tonight in our hotel) for drinks while we waited. About seven we decided to stay there and have dinner. What a wonderful decision as we entered the beautiful dining room and had a delicious dinner that ended with liquors just before ten.
A wonderful first day of our five week tour; some ups and down and some serendipity experiences but all in all…even with the rain…it was a good day!