Monday 21st March 2016

Yet another cloudy day but Dorothy said it would brighten up and so she caught up with the laundry.
After lunch we took a walk around Brezolles to snap a few more photographs for our blog page. Firstly, we visited the Church



then outside the church, looking back towards the Aire

and on leaving the Church close, we came across this small house for sale!

We were interested with how badly it was decaying. After photographing it we walked around the corner to the village where Allan checked the price with a local estate agent. He said that it needed a lot of work and would not be a small job. Never mind said Allan it is just for interest. It is about 15 thousand Euro he replied but this is probably negotiable. This is about £11,600 for a house in a nice position, close to the Church and village centre shops. Baker, Butcher/Charcuterie, two Pizzerias, several Bars and Restaurants and many other shops, including two supermarkets. It is just seven miles outside the city of Verneuil sur Avre and only 59 miles from Paris. Wonder if our property maintenance man Mister B would be interested with a job away from Seaford for a month or two!!!

We made our way back to the motorhome, passing the town square with the market place to the right and then on past the Marie.

Tuesday

We left Brezolles late in the morning, heading to the large village or town of Chateauneuf en Thymeras. It turned out to be quite a large place but as there is no Aire de CampingCar we were unable to stay. However we did make a long afternoon visit to the Carrefour supermarket on the edge of the town, where we made some very good purchases and Dorothy was able to use the points built up on her Loyalty card to redeem €5.

Then we travelled on our way to Chartres. We had a good journey and easily remembered our way to the parking area overlooking the parkland. We arrived in lovely sunshine and were pleased to see the herd of Deer still here but they were too far away to take a good photo with just the camera phones.

Wednesday

We awoke in Chartres to another cloud covered day. After breakfast the plan was to visit two motorhome dealers. This is not because we want a new motorhome or can even afford one. It is just because we are are interested (likely story) to see what is currently on offer to the European market. The first place that was on the list was Caravan Central at Luisant on the edge of Chartres.

Along the way we visited the garage that we expect would be changing our tyres. The tyre garage was a back street sort of place and it didn't look like they could fit anything the size of our motorhome in their garage. Allan went to check with the mechanic who said that there was no problem at all and everything would be OK. But we were still unsure.

We then carried on to the motorhome dealer. The sign on the roundabout said that the dealer was to the right, satnav said it was to the left, Dorothy said right but Allan followed the satnav and went left and found Caravan Central, Chartres. The design layout of European motorhomes is nothing special and basically they are all the same. No oven, no microwave, no gas fire, no kitchen workspace, usually no awning and so they are not for us. However, Dorothy was very taken by the slim but taller fridges in some of them.

We asked at the motorhome dealer's reception about tyres and he said the Fiat main dealer just along the road was the best place in Chartres and that they fit all the tyres for them. So we went next to the Fiat dealer and in fact they quoted a very similar price to the previous back-street garage and as their workshops looked heaps better and the access and parking was marvellous, that is where we will be going for our new tyres.

The next Motorhome dealer that we planned to visit on the list was SLC which was, according to the internet, located at a small village about 5 miles out of town. However when we arrived there, there was nothing to be seen except houses, farms and fields. We drove around for a little while, looking for the motorhome dealer but unfortunately getting totally lost in a small housing estate. Luckily a French housewife came running out to our rescue and pointed us in the right direction. It was, as it happens, back to where we had just come from but taking the other junction on the roundabout! Both dealers were less than a mile from each other, one to the left and the other to the right of the roundabout (where Dorothy originally saw the confusing sign)!

Also here, the choice of motorhomes left much to be desired. We looked at a few, decided that we had come here in the best motorhome suitable for us and made plans to return to Chartres for the night. On leaving, we noticed a huge new E. Leclerc Hypermarket. This was now on our list of things to do when we return for the tyres in a few days time.

Thursday

Today we walked along beside the river Eure into Chartres doing a couple of geocaches on the way.

We first made our way to the Tourist Information Office
which is in a beautiful old building called the Salmon House
and from there you get this view of part of the old town.

The young lady in the TI told us about the French Easter traditions and in true French style, the holiday is celebrated within the family, a major part being a feast of lamb. So there were no organised fetes etc. as we would find in England. She did say that there were Easter Egg hunts for children in most villages.

We were both feeling very troubled today and couldn't put our minds to anything. However, we made our way to the Cathedral which was preparing for the Easter period.


Today we managed to get a much better picture of this statue...

They have done a lot more of the restoration works since we were here last October.

We left the Cathedral and made our way to the shopping area but very soon we decided that we had had enough and wished to return home. On our way back we did stop to have a look at the "destruction" and "reconstruction" of an area of the city behind and to the sides of the Marie. You can see the huge crane behind the Marie..........


and this is what they are doing...........



Here is an artists impression of what they are constructing in the middle of these old buildings...............

In the right-hand picture you can see the existing Marie which they are keeping but which will be surrounded by these modern glass and concrete blocks.
A lot of the buildings and car park will also be below ground level.

Friday

New tyres for the front wheels today. We went over to the Fiat Garage and were booked in for 2 pm. So with time to spare we visited some of the out of town stores. Aldi, Gifi and a large discount store called Megastock which looks as if they buy in end of lines and bankrupt stock. 2lt Pepsi Cola for the equivalent of 58 pence - we purchased some of those!

When we returned for the tyres the price was agreed and then he saw that our tyres were larger then he thought and said it would cost a little more and added another £100 to the total bill. We had already decided that this garage looked better than the back street place that we were originally going to, so we agreed to the extra. Because the larger tyres meant that they had to go somewhere else for balancing the tyre fitting took a lot longer than we had anticipated. This was about the only time that the sun was shining for almost a week and the motorhome with its 200w solar panels was under cover in a garage! Oh well that's life, at least we have good tyres.

After having the tyres fitted at the Fiat main dealer we then went to the E. Leclerc Hypermarket complete with it's shopping mall. This place was huge. The food hall alone was about eight times the size of our local Sainsburys. Just to get to the main food hall you must pass by loads of other shops in the mall itself.

All shopped out, we decided to return to Chartres for the weekend.

Saturday

Market day in the city today so we took the long walk into the city centre and to the covered market.


The fish stall looked very inviting with a huge variety of fresh fish.

Then we took a walk around the shopping precincts and on towards the horizontal fountain and the Flower Market. (Allan doesn't do pictures of flowers!!!)


In this square there is a statue to François Séverin Marceau-Desgraviers who was born at Chartres, Eure-et-Loir. His father served as a legal officer and Marceau received an education for a legal career but, at the age of sixteen, he enlisted in the regiment of Savoy-Carignan. Whilst on furlough in Paris, Marceau joined in the storming of the Bastille on 14th July 1789.

Then we went back through the shopping streets again. The city is full of people today.

This weekend marks a year since we both retired. Dorothy's brother Tony had given us some euros for Christmas and so we decided to use some of this money and treat ourselves to lunch out today. We returned to an Italian Restaurant that we had visited last year and had a very nice lunch. Thank you Tony xx

In the mid afternoon we went back to the motorhome but leaving the city centre by a slightly different and longer route.


Sunday

Happy Easter everyone. Or Joyeuses Pâques as they say here.

There are two main Easter stories in France.

One is to do with the Church bells. The Catholic tradition dictates that Church bells don’t ring between Good Friday “Vendredi Saint” and Easter Sunday, to commemorate the death of Christ and his resurrection. Traditionally children are told that, during this time, the bells grow 2 little wings and dress up with a lovely ribbon and fly to Rome to be blessed by the Pope. Then they fly back from this trip loaded with presents. On their return they randomly drop these treats to be found by very excited children. In the shops you now see chocolate "flying bells" as well as chocolate Easter eggs and chocolate chicks and bunnies. They also have egg hunts and raw egg catching.

The other story is of a Jewish man born in Bethlehem who formed his own religion and was hung from a cross for it. Then, after he had died, he rose up again and joined God in heaven.

Allan is not in any way religious and much prefers the chocolate. However this being a Catholic country it is their big celebration in the Cathedral so we decided to go for it. Why not? Notre Dame Cathedral in Chartres is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Started building in 1134 (no, not half past eleven) it is one of the most impressive Cathedrals in France (the guide book says so).
At 130m long and 37m high it is one of the biggest in France.

There was a bag search on the way in and Allan had to undo his jacket to show he was not carrying any bombs (it is all just his flabby belly). The Cathedral was packed to the walls. The organ music was great, the singing was very good and the sound system was outstanding. Although we couldn't understand a lot of it, the ceremony, music and singing was very moving.

We finally managed to get a photo of the organ on leaving the Cathedral.

We left the Cathedral and found a Brocante (Flea Market) in the market place. Everyone strolled leisurely, none of the hustle and bustle of yesterday's market!

We then returned to the motorhome, stopping on the way in one of the gardens for a rest as the walk back is quite a long way. At the entrance to the gardens Allan was remarking how tidy everything was. He took a photo of the general refuse bins that you find all over the city.

A phone call to Dorothy's Mum when we returned to the motorhome, rounded off the day.

As hinted at yesterday, today is another big celebration for us as this day, last year, was a Friday. It was the last day that Allan walked out of the factory door - to freedom.
We have been retired a full year now and it has been MARVELLOUS.

Writing this drivel has been the most taxing part. We cannot send regular individual postcards to all our family and friends, so this is it, our one and only communication back home. This is not just a meaningless "Wish you were here" postcard sent without thought or consideration, this is and has been, all about our life since we have been away. Since the British government sentenced us to retirement on one, reduced, pension we have shared with every one of you 1148 photographs. That is an average of 22 photos each and every week. Our Blog is also a keepsake for us, to help us remember all the wonderful people we have met, the fantastic experiences we have had and the wonderful places we have visited; especially if, in the future, we are sadly no longer fit and able to live this life anymore.

If you are reading this, please don't forget that we love to hear from you folks back home too, so that we don't feel so isolated and are kept up-to-date with family life.

Phone, E-Mail, Skype, Text, Message, WhatsApp or Facebook. Our Blog even has a message board. We love it when someone says HELLO!

 

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