Sunday, May 25, 2014

Castles


Today is a kick back day in Amboise. Tim from the b&b tells me to be sure to go to the big Sunday market, and that most businesses including restaurants are closed on sunday afternoons.  We start the morning with our usual visit to the local patisserie for coffee and pastries. Many people are buying cakes and we later learn it is Mothers Day in France. Pastries are unbelievably light and flaky and not very sweet. Coffee comes in demitasses amounting to a couple of tablespoons.  Some places give you a small decanter of hot water to dilute it, others do not. They would be horrified to see a large cup of coffee from Starbucks!  We walk the square and wander through some interesting shops then make our way to the market.  There is a large assortment of produce, cheeses, sausages, breads, fish and meats, in addition to clothing, shoes, and flowers. We buy Sunday dinner, sausages, fresh white asparagus, small potatoes, baguettes and paella being cooked in an enormous wok. We feel very French with our goodies. My bit of French has come in handy however when I utter a carefully constructed phrase, I often do a double take because the person turns out to be n English speaker.  It's when I am struggling to find the words that it turns out the person speaks no English at all! We take our time walking the old town in the rain. Amboise straddles the Loire River, with an old stone bridge that crosses over to the small "Golden Island"  with houses and buildings; another bridge provides access to the other side. The river is quite shallow and muddy brown.

The most elegant and visited castle is Chemonceaux, from the 16 th century.  We play tourist and drive out to see it. Since we arrive late, the busloads of tourists are beginning to leave. It is indeed very well appointed with tapestries lining the walls and gorgeous flower arrangements in every room. The 200 ft. long grand gallery or ballroom sits across the Cher River and one can begin to imagine life as a king's lady. Chenonceu was called the chateau of the ladies and housed many famous women over the centuries. The gardens are equally splendid and manicured and by the time we get to them, it is after 6 and we have the place to ourselves. Ray spends his time looking for trout in the moat. 

Our last stop is at McDonalds for free and fast wifi; turns out the apartment has no access. How dependent we have become that being totally disconnected feels like we are separated from the world!
We now know where families and teens spend their sunday evenings- enjoying hamburgers and fries. 

Back at the apartment, I pretend to be Julia Child and cook up our fresh food. All that is missing is a bottle of wine, which we neglected to buy!







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