Sunday, August 1, 2010

Chateau de Fontainbleau

We’ll have another new hotel for the next four nights in Melun; south of Paris. We headed north and east out of Tours about 9 am; it was very overcast and only about 60 degrees. The motorcycle riders had everything wrapped in plastic as it really looked like rain. But as we traveled along the sun started popping out between the dark clouds and by the afternoon it was another summer day of about eighty degrees.

Today was a four hour drive on two lane highways….a few country roads but mostly very good and straight roads. We were definitely in the “French breadbasket” with field after field of grains. Shortly after we started we went off road to investigate a Grange that we saw from the highway: Grange de Maslay built in the thirteen century; and towards the back we could see a very nice modern home that the family now lives in. It appears that they use the old building for concerts and other events.

We saw a few chateaux in towns along the way; and we always enjoy all their flowers hung in baskets on the bridges and village streets of nearly every town. In one area of a couple of miles we saw at least four large prisons. Then we saw more wind machines in one area than we’ve seen the entire trip! Must admit they were on a very large plateau that went for miles and was farmland.

About noon we pulled into the town of Fontainebleau to see the gardens of the chateau. The inside of the Chateau is nice but not spectacular…we’ve seen it before…but we’d never taken the time to see the gardens. Fontainebleau’s history is very old; predating the more modern Versailles; many French Kings have called this huge “hunting lodge” home. Napoleon was baptized here, held his coronation and his abdication in this massive Chateau. The entry is through large gold encrusted iron gates, one walks down a long entry path to the dual circular steps leading up to the main entrance.

Today we took a different path; we parked along the side of the grounds and walked in through a side gate. The gardens are always open and free to the public even when the Chateau is closed. We found the large fountain in the center of the gardens, the very long lake, statues, and awesome views of the Chateau from the back. We walked all over the gardens and then headed towards the Chateau. We first passed the “golden gate” and then into the center of the main buildings that overlooks another large round lake that has a small “summer house” built in the center. This is the only part of the gardens that we’d seen before. From there we walked around to the front of the chateau and out the front gates; a very different and fun visit to a very old and famous chateau.

By the time we got our car out of the underground parking garage it was 1 pm and we were thinking about lunch. We drove out of town towards the large obelisk…brought over by the armies of Napoleon when they conquered Egypt. Soon we found a parking area alongside the highway and pulled over for a picnic lunch in the car! Jim had a can of canard pate plus our mini sausages and cheese plus bread. We saved the applesauce for later we were so full.

By 2 pm we were at our new Balladins Hotel….now…can we get in! What luck…they were just closing for the afternoon. Generally most of them do not have staff from 2 pm to 5 pm. Once you’re checked in you have a key code to enter at will; but if we hadn’t caught her we would have been stuck with everything in the car for three hours!

The last three photos in the slideshow are of my sandals….I used these in 2009 for three months in Europe with my sister and now for another two months…I’m hoping they make it through the next two weeks and then it’s in the trash can! Wow…five months!

It’s the same type of Internet as in our last hotel we found out….after she was gone. We need a European cell phone for them to text us a code. Tried calling my sister in Florida but the code never came through to her phone. But we did get to talk. We have a McDonalds just a block away so we will walk over soon and use their free wifi. Jim has been enjoying both the Formula 1 motor racing and the English channel of CNN on the television. We also needed a down day and we’ve gotten some things washed out laundry wise. Good afternoon. I see on the news that Past President Clinton’s daughter was married today.

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