Rollicking Road Trip Through France: Chapter 4
This is the final chapter of the Loire valley portion of the road trip. We end it with a day in Blois. I have a lot of trouble saying the name of this city.
I’m not sure if our US-peeps will get the European reference in this title. Trust me, it’s cute.
Before we get to sights, we had a total snafu with parking. Within a minute of arriving, we found this sweet spot right next to the Château de Blois. We thought we really scored. It’s rare that we find a spot so quickly and easily in a new city. But then we tried to pay for it. And we just couldn’t figure it out. It refused to take our credit cards. It didn’t want our cash. Upon further inspection, it started to look like we were parking in a “green zone” and needed some sort of corresponding pass. We tried googling for info and found nothing helpful. After about 10 minutes of coming up with nothing, we decided we’d have to give up this prime spot. Fail #1.
Next, we headed to a nearby public parking garage. It was further away, but it’s a garage. Presumably, the payment process would be simpler. After arriving however, we drove up to the machine where you’d expect to get a ticket and found a strangely simple metal box. It only had one place to swipe a card. No slot to dispense a ticket. No big green button. We were so confused. Fail #2.
So after some weird reverse maneuvering, we exited the garage and proceeded to loop around the city to find another spot or garage. Every option was either a special “zone”, was too far away, or was the first garage we tried already. Finally, after 20 minutes of wandering, we decided to just go back to the garage and see if we missed something. This time, we realized (and by that, I mean we decided to raise our heads approximately 15 degrees and actually look at what was in front of us), a mere 7 feet in front of that first machine was a second machine with all the expected buttons and slots. Ridiculous.
Sometimes on this trip we are really awesome, and sometimes…not so much.
After that nonsense, I was really aching for some coffee before we got down to the serious business of sight-seeing. We stopped at a nearby and highly-rated coffee shop – thinking they might have drip coffee. Nada. So we ended up ordering two cappucinos and paired them with a cappucino-flavored muffin. The lady taking our order loved that. When I went to pick up our tray with our coffees, I see that our drinks are adorned with huge, swirly, mounds of whipped cream. Who puts whipped cream on a cappucino? Is this a thing?? I thought it was super weird, and would have assumed it was random and moved on except for yesterday. In Avignon, I made nearly the same order (different muffin – this time a super goo-ey brownie-like thing with a marshmallow in it), and the girl asked me if we’d like some “Chantilly” on our cappucinos?! I replied with an unnecessarily vehement “Non.”
I’m not sure what is going on here. But I don’t like it.
Château de Blois
Blois sits on the banks of the Loire river. It’s historic, picturesque (get ready to see me overuse this word in the next few posts), and has lots of winding cobblestone streets. It’s a lovely place to spend a day walking around. And right in the center, sits Château de Blois. Can a château have personality? If so, I think this one had the most. It was one of our favorites. It’s not as large and extravagant as some of the others, but it’s got a mix of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, it’s got a little bit more color with its red brick and grey stone wing, and has interesting history. Joan of Arc came here in 1429 to be blessed before continuing on to battle in Orleans.
The people running the château also seem to have a little more fun with the place. In one of the first rooms, there is a throne set up where you are encouraged to take pictures of yourself, and then post and tag them. The place was practically empty so we took the standard shots, and then got creative and posed for some less-than-regal photos.
We then walked to Fondation du Doute (which I think means Foundation of Doubt). It’s a museum of contemporary art. It specializes in art from the Fluxus movement, which is more experimental and wacky (that’s not meant to be disparaging). Unfortunately, it wasn’t open. I was really disappointed. But we took tons of pictures of the museum because the building itself is a piece of art. The facade is covered with the “Wall of Words” by the artist Ben. Check it out in the pics.
After that we meandered our way to the Escalier Denis Papin (Denis Papin steps) – a French physicist and inventor. We sat on a bench at the top of the stairs and looked down over the city while the sun set.