Montresor Village (France, Spring 2015)

Montresor WallI thought I was going to detail this village after the zoo – we visited on the same day – but there were too many nice animal shots.

Montresor CastleAnyway, it was late afternoon when we drove into Montresor. It is one of the “Most Beautiful Villages of France.” Yes, there is an association that goes around judging. Based on Montresor, I’d say they had the right idea.

Montresor Roof Tops

 

 

 

The town was bucolic, arranged on a hill with a castle and spreading down to the Indrois river. A Polish count bought and restored the castle.  Along the river is a little park, well laid out for walking with a dog.Montresor walkers

A sign pointed out the laundry houses along the river where women once came to wash their clothes – no care then for pollution!

Montresor RiverThere was also a sign warning of wild boar crossing. Sadly we didn’t see it.

As we strolled, we heard a cuckoo – first live one either of us had ever heard.

Home for a nap then out on the town of Chinon. Not really. We ate at a quiet pub.

Decided to include a picture of a Montresor doorway. The colors!

Montresor DoorwayI’m going to end with a picture of a painter. Not the kind you think…
Montresor Painter

Beauparc Zoo and Montresor (France, Spring 2015)

Zoo white tiger 2In a surprise move, we ditched a castle and went to the zoo. We are real zoo people – have talked about trying to visit all the famous zoos in the U.S. Well, wow. Just wow. This zoo was as good or better than San Diego. Lotsa ducks…hahaha. Fauves (big cats including a white tiger and white lion.) Sea lion show. Pandas. All the animals in multiples – for instance 7 Koala bears. A bird yawned to my surprise. So many singes, monkey types. Lots of hills, beautiful enclosures. It was a holiday; the zoo was packed with kids. Scroll down for some wild life, ending with a family that had “done” the zoo.

Above a White Tiger. Below, a Tiger Foot

Zoo Tiger FootRhinos – so unlovely and unloved…

Zoo RhinosPandas – Sleeping and at ease. They look more like cats than bears.

Zoo Panda Head

Sleeping Panda

Extra points if you can guess this mystery butt. Answer at the bottom of the page.

Zoo Koala ButtLaughing Tiger

Zoo laughing white tiger

A forlorn Monkey of some sort and a Baboon

Zoo monkey in field

Zoo Baboon

A Kangaroo Family

Zoo Roo and JoeyA Human Family

Zoo PicnicAnd yes, it was a Koala Bear.

Angers, Cointreau Tour (Spring 2015)

Angers Moat GardenAngers Tower and MoatToday is Angers Castle. The weather map showed a single black spot of rain: Angers. Sure enough, a sudden downpour while we’re buying tickets. But then a miracle. It clears up! The man who took our tickets when we entered had been drinking – hubby smelled his breath across the counter!

Angers began as a defensive castle. Massive walls with a rampart which we walk all the way round. There’s a decorative garden in the moat but up next to the ramparts, a kitchen garden. If they were besieged, they’d have parsley!

Angers Interior

The walls enclosed a huge area: chapel, living quarters from various centuries, some strange trees. Sun, sun, sun. The kids waving.

 

Angers Kids

 

 

 

tapestry

 

Angers is famous for its Apocalypse Tapestry which shows the story from the Book of Revelation by Saint John the Divine. Originally 90 scenes, it was created in the late 1300’s. An estimated 84 man-years of effort to create.  It’s the oldest tapestry in France. You can see that it’s in a very dark hall, for preservation.  My picture is only of a portion. It goes on and on. Below are some of my favorite scenes.tapestry horseAngers tapestry fiery lions

tapestry startapestry angels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angers Towers

Farewell to Angers, a powerhouse of a castle and on to the Cointreau distillery.

 

The liquor is made from sweet and bitter orange peel in big copper vats.

At 80% alcohol when first mashed and brewed, they add water and sugar bring it down to 40%. Cointreau VatMost interesting was the need to find the best oranges to make the same flavor year after year. The Cointreau bottle is trademarked. They had a wall of fake bottles. Only Russia and Brazil ignored the cease and desist order. China stopped making it, even though their bottle was the closest match – only one small difference.

After the tour, there was a tasting. We learned to mix the liquor and left happy, if a bit wobbly. Here’s hubby doing mixology…Cointreau Tasting

Mushrooms and Saumur (France 2015)

This charming nook greets us every morning as we leave the hotel.

nook

Troglyte house
The region around Chinon has many “Troglodyte” homes. These are houses that were built into caves in the hillside. This was one of the fancier ones. Note the chimney. Naturally, with so many caves, they grow mushrooms. We went to lunch at a restaurant built in one of those caves. It was a steep climb, all for nothingl – mushrooms aren’t fattening! Mushroom StairsOn to Saumur Castle. First built in the 10th century, it became part of the English Plantagenet realm. It burned, as castles will, and was rebuilt in the 13th cent. Saumur CastleIt is the model for the September castle in Les Tres Riches Heures, a 1410 prayerbook for the Duc de Berry. It has been under restoration since 1904…anyone who has remodeled a kitchen will understand!Tres Riches Heures

We met a guide who spoke English, French, Spanish, German and a few Russian phrases. Hubby asked if he could translate Borscht?

SaumurThe main castle was set in a large courtyard surrounded by walls and a moat. Very traditional.

There were furnishings and displays of objects dug up on the grounds. Or at least from the time period. A tapestry; notice the hat! A carving from the chapel of a petulant girl. A restored fireplace and the wooden mechanism (original they said) that worked the well.

Saumur CarvingSaumurTapestry

 

Saumur Fireplace

WellOn the way home we passed a boat maker. Very much in demand – we see boats on the river everyday.

Boat Builder

BoatA little walk through Chinon. Eerie how few English speakers – most are Brit. Watch a movie in our room. Isn’t technology wonderful? But no popcorn.

Chinon (France 2015)

Chinon River Mist1Chinon is a wonderful town. Medieval houses wedged in between more Renaissance ones. Little alleyways. Foot traffic only in the town center. Perfect place from which to venture forth and explore the Loire Valley.

Chinon StairwayChinon Old House2 Chinon Houses

Chinon Poppies

 

 

 

We  landed in a great hotel, The Agnes Sorell, right on the river Vienne. Nice room and a little patio right outside where we could sit in the sun. And as I said in my last post, the owners are kind and helpful. Chinon Patio at B&B

We came to Chinon because of my reading about the castle. I was interested in the English King John of Magna Carta fame who locked up his French bride here, but Jeanne d’Arc met her French King here also.  As is usual with castles and cathedrals, it was built up over time; the oldest section is separated from the newer by a ravine. Lots of wind and great views over the town and river.

Chinon Fortress Walkway
Chinon from the Fortress
We finally had sun and spent the morning exploring, then went to lunch in a Troglodyte cave where mushrooms are grown and on to another castle – more on that next time.
Chinon River Bridge

Chartres Cathedral Tour (Spring 2015)

On the road to ChartresUp at 6:30. Paris is not busy on an early work day (I was expecting the packed chaos of Rome). Today we rented a car and had to stop a passerby to ask how to start the thing – Toyoto Auris (hybrid). Not bad traffic getting out of town, then we had bright yellow fields (mustard Mother said long ago; I think hops). Long flat views.
Chartres in the mist
Chartres in the distance. Later, in our tour, the guide says some pilgrims still walk there; they say they can see the spire several days before they arrive.

chartres flowersParking is good, and it has a free, clean toilette! This after my hubby paid .50 in a shop for a stinking mess that almost made him up-chuck. As antidote to that sentence, here are some flowers that were in the parking lot.
Chartres Front
They are cleaning the cathedral – first time in 300 years. chartres dragonOutside, the statues are almost white with traces of color. Take a look at this little aqua dragon. Hard to imagine it all painted, though. Like this statue, one of dozens that caught my eye. That’s probably not a parrot on his shoulder…
chartres pirate

We walk around the outside. You never see photos of the back, but it’s lovely. With wisteria, even.
chartres wisteria

Malcolm Miller gave the tour. He has been giving tours here since 1958, is 81 and a walking encyclopedia of facts and synthesis about the cathedral. I took one years ago when he stacked us up in demonstration of how the flying buttresses worked; we held his weight with no problem.

This one was equally memorable. We wore headsets, which was good since they are working inside. Chartres Malcolm MillerLong lecture about history. The windows are the oldest in all of Europe and are didactive, that is they are meant to teach. He then “read” a couple of the oldest. He also told us about some tourists from Dallas who had lectured him about the Bible and creationism. I never realized there were words incorporated into the glass.
Chartres Stained Glass

On to Chinon, long drive. Some forests and it gets hilly. Trouble finding the hotel but the owner (new since Jan) is charming. We speak some French – she “doucement” – slowly, carefully. I’m going to get to practice after all that studying.