Monday 3rd August 2015

In the late morning, after updating the blog for last week and saying our farewells to Andre and Lidie we left Restigné to go and do some Geocaching a few miles south, at a village called La Chapelle sur Loire. The first seven caches were easy to find but for the eighth you must use extra numbers collected from some of the previous ones. Unfortunately even with these extra numbers the final cache proved to be elusive and other people had left notes on the geocaching website saying that the coordinates were up to 60 yards off. So after an hour of searching and without success it was time to move on a bit further on our journey. We have now found 986 geocaches.

One of the caches we did find today was at the river side with view along the Loire and another was, yes, another Lavoir - this time in it's own gated garden!

Just across the road was the church . As we needed to pass the church we took a look inside. Quite a large church which is much lower than the road, due to the level of the road being built up higher as part of the flood defences. This is since a great flood in 1856.

The main window above the altar is depicting the ex Roman soldier being made Bishop of Tours, who was later to become Saint Martin. The church door has a carving of Saint Martin on one side and Saint George on the other.

This church is dedicated to "The Translation of Saint Martin" because when he died in 397 in Candes, near Poitiers, the people of Tours fought those of Poitiers for his body. Tours won. His body was then taken from Poitiers to Tours along the River Loire and according to legend, when his body passed this village all the wayside flowers blossomed white. So now each year on the anniversary of this, 9th November, they have a special Festival for him where they line the River Loire with white flowers. Then half of his cloak, of course the half that he didn't give to a beggar, is brought up river to be received by the Mayor. It must look quite spectacular. There are no flowers for Allan and Dorothy Martin.

Our one thousandth Geocache needs to be somewhere special and significant - it is now becoming quite clear where it should be!

We then travelled quite a few miles east along the Loire valley and in the early evening we arrived at Villandry, which is actually alongside a tributary to the Loire, called the River Cher. Villandry is not the best Aire that we have ever stayed on so far but it is in a convenient location and obviously good for visiting the Chateau. It is rather large with about 30 motorhome spaces and is also used as an overspill carpark for the Chateau and the village. Motorhomes and cars seem to be always coming and going all day long. The roadway is very dusty and each time someone goes a little too fast the dust is kicked up and gets everywhere. When someone drives around the car park more than once many irate motorhomers rush out to make gestures and complain! The Aire is free to park and stay overnight but the water here must be paid for. Those in the know use a water tap behind the football changing rooms, so of course we also take advantage of this little custom which is useful for topping up if you don't need a complete refill.

Tuesday

After obtaining the all important wifi code from the Tourist Information Office, Allan returned to check out the mail etc. and upload the Blog.

Later we did some of the geocache trail alongside the River Cher and back along the road about 4 miles long.

Three of the ones alongside the river are described as small fish hanging from trees. So they must be easy to find! don't you believe it. The first took a quite while to find. Then there it was, a wooden bird box. Obviously no one places bird boxes a short distance from a pathway through a forest. On opening the bird box, there inside is a wooden fish. The others followed the same idea but some of the bird boxes had plastic sardine cans inside with a little wooden fish screwed inside the plastic can, they were very clever and they all made us smile!

Then uphill into the forest to find a stone with GZ written on it !! and the last one was in the entrance to the Chateau.

Villandry from the Geocache

The village is very touristy with a pizza bar, three or four restaurants and a Baker. We bought some of the baker's bread which is obviously baked on the premises as the ovens and sacks of flour are in full view - and it was terrible! So heavy, hard, unrisen and very misshapen. It set us to wonder if some of the bread that we buy from the artisan bakers in other villages perhaps use bought in pre mixed flour or even pre made bread that they just need to bake. Many of the smaller supermarket shops here do this and all previous bread that we have purchased looks very similar. Some bread comes with wrappers with the flour mill logo on them. Supermarket bread is between 65 to 85 cents and boulangerie or bakery bread is between one euro and 1.20. Usually supermarket bread looks and feels better, unfortunately French bread dries out very quickly.

Wednesday

During the morning Allan gets a new wifi code from the Tourist Office. We are only allowed two hours on the internet each time but there is no restriction as to how many times you can have a new code. After Allan finishes with the Wifi we take a look at the rest of the village hoping that there is a shop here.

As the places that we have been staying at recently have been small villages mostly without shops it seems to be a long time since we went shopping and we need some groceries. Unfortunately there is no shop here either. There is however an open air automatic dispensing area with a lot of plastic boxes where you can put coins in and remove some fruit or vegetables or a bottle of squash from a box. No meat, wine, dairy products etc. so its only useful for vegetarians or in an emergency! We asked in the Tourist Office where is the best shopping in the area and of the selection that we were given we decided to go to the Carrefour at Azay le Rideau about twelve miles away.

Just as at home all the corner shops and village stores have either closed down or been taken over by the large chains of Supermarkets - just like Tesco Express or Sainsbury's Local - but have higher prices than at the out of town stores. After spending a small fortune we return to Villandry for dinner and the night.

When Allan goes off to top up with water from the "special tap" many of the new arrivals to the Aire see what is happening and follow in his tracks and so the water custom continues.

Thursday

Got up nice and early for a change and got everything sorted as we are going to town today. Tours is a large city. The author Balzac claimed Tours to be laughing, loving, fresh flowered, perfumed and better than all the other cities of the world. We are sure he didn't have a car as there is no chance of finding a parking space in the town centre and we would need two spaces for our motorhome. On the southern edge of the city is a "park and ride" free to park and a bus ride to the city centre. It was badly signed on the way through southern Tours and also at the car park entrance. Luckily the satnav found it for us. After speaking to two ladies, we found that it was about half an hour to walk into town but when we asked about the cycle path and if it was easy they replied oui,oui,oui, about fifty times. So we decided that this is what we got the bikes for so lets get them out and then we wouldn't be tied to the last bus situation. It was a very easy cycle path to the city centre where we left the bikes.

The Hotel de Ville, Tours

Today is the big day for us with Geocaching, as we have 992 found already and one thousand would be quite a milestone number. There are no prizes, no reward of any kind, just the simple pleasure of getting to a thousand, a nice round number. We successfully did the last 8, taking in the Cathedral on the way.

A beautiful carving inside the Cathedral....

Another Cache, this time near a Golden North American Indian ....

Then it was time for a break and a "replacement of fluids" !!

The 7th cache was called "Tristan the Hermit" but we found it was actually a tribute to "Tristan Martin"
complete with the obligatory camouflage!
The photo has been enlarged. This magnetic Cache is about 1" long, stuck behind a gutter somewhere in Tours!!


******* THEN - the last one achieved - OUR 1000TH GEOCACHE *******

Duly signed and logged.... (Allan01273 is our caching name)

Which was found at the "Basilica Saint Martin" the Saint's tomb. A very appropriate place for us to find our milestone cache.

The Basilica

The Tomb The Relics Memorial Stone

Saint Martin the Patron Saint of France was born in 316 in Hungary and died in 397 in Candes, France. His Saints Day is November 11th. Martin spent most of his childhood in Pavia, Italy and converted to Christianity at the age of ten against his parents wishes. He was conscripted into the Roman Army at the age of 15 by his father, who was a Tribune in the Imperial Horse Guard. However he found the duty, and taking life, incompatible with his Christian faith.

In 356 he became a monk in Ligué, near Poitiers and converted all the local people to Christianity.

In 371 he was acclaimed Bishop of Tours.

In Britain surnames were adopted in the 13th and 14th century, initially by the aristocracy but eventually by everyone and by 1400 most English people used surnames. For some reason Allan's ancestor decided it would be a good idea to adopt this Saint's name or someone named after this Saint. Allan was absolutely delighted when Dorothy decided to marry him and take the name in the 20th century.

Time for celebratory drinks - well, you don't find your 1000th Geocache every day of the week!!

After our visit to Tours we went out the other side of town and a little further east to the village of Vouvray which although the Aires book says that there are 8 spaces there are only three marked spaces so as we are the fourth here we just parked where we could, to then be joined by another three motorhomes.

Friday

Slight rain this morning that lasted for about 20 minutes, followed by the sun and heat again but only 85f. We walked into the town and on the way Dorothy found geocache number 1001. Then to the market but were disappointed to find that although it was supposed to be here from 6 in the morning until 3pm it was closing time and most of the traders had gone home by 11 am. We did manage to get some fish from the fishmonger though. The Tourist Office was next on our list and the young lady there was very helpful. On the return to the Aire we noticed a fine restaurant so if we stay here that may well be worth looking at as there is live music every weekend, but tonight there is a concert with wine tasting and food in the adjacent camping ground.

After evening dinner we went over to the camping ground and the evening started off well with a bit of wine tasting which proved to be very a fruity dinner wine and not something that you could drink all evening at a party, or even without the party. The first section of the entertainment was two men, one with a guitar and a trumpeter playing blues music which although you could listen to was not "party music" - we did manage to do a fairly respectable cha cha though. Then they left and the pop group took to the stage which consisted of seven pallets. You never did hear anything so diabolical and laughable as these four out of tune individuals with the trumpeter who seemed to have stayed behind to try to keep them together.

Children were playing in the boules court that was expected to be the dance floor and when some of the chidden were taken to bed at 9pm the others got their bicycles out and continued to ride around with their parents egging them on. We left pretty early followed by many other people, and the concert didn't last much longer! Maybe we should have gone to the restaurant instead!

Saturday

Today is the big day for Moritz.

We were going to our next Aire de Campingcar today at Montlouis sur Loire, next to the Super U but during a tidy up and clearing out some of our old tourist leaflets we found a small insignificant one advertising some sort of evening show in Montrichard with last performances tonight and tomorrow night. Montrichard is nowhere near where we were going, it is totally out of our way, but the leaflet looks interesting. So a change of plan. We will stay here another night and travel to Montrichard tomorrow.

We decide to do the remaining cache near to the Aire and this is the view from the cache.....

Its a good job we didn't go to the show tonight as about 10pm it started to rain and did not stop until the early hours. This has been our third spell of rain since we came to France and its not so bad when it just happens at night. Everything will probably be dry tomorrow.

At the end of the day we wonder if Moritz did make it to the airport in Porto on time to meet Charlotte off the plane from Germany. Or was he distracted and delayed with everything that France and Spain have to offer along the way. We hope it all goes well for them both in the future.

Sunday

This morning is a bit overcast and although still wearing shorts and a shirt weather it needs to warm up a bit. 17c out and 24c in the motorhome is chilly. Every day starts cool and then just gets warmer and hotter until about 6pm then it is just too much. We travel to Montrichard for the show this evening. Montrichard is a very pleasant old world sort of place with lots of shops and market day Friday and Monday.

We take the opportunity to do a geocache up near the church on the hill then took a stroll around the town, walking back along the river.

Near to the bridge a friendly old man who wanted us to visit his model of the village explained that although Allan thought Montrichard may look like mountain of Richard or, in English, Richards Hill, it does in fact mean mont tri chard which is three hills alongside the river Chard. Allan got it wrong again!

The Tourist Office advised us that the show is very "wordy" obviously in the French language with not so much music and visual effects. We didn't take his advice but after seeing where the show was to be performed and what we may expect we decided to give it a miss. We had our second choice of Aire which brought us to Angé.

The villages that we are visiting at the moment seem to be getting smaller and smaller and driving through, this one seems no exception. However, when we arrive at the Aire we are quite taken by surprise. The Aire is massive. There are two great big fields with 40 or more motorhomes spread all over the place and still leaving huge areas vacant. One part of the Aire seems to be given over to travelling agricultural workers. In England we have another name for them and they keep themselves separate from the people on vacation.

We were greeted enthusiastically by an English couple David and Maggie who were very friendly and told us all about the aire, village and its surroundings.

Free electricity and two euros for the water. Grass fields surrounded by trees, small boulangerie in the village, free wifi and a Carrefour supermarket just 3.5 miles down the road on the outskirts of Montrichard. Looks like a trip to Carrefour tomorrow!

Someone has to put up with all this hardship.

 

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