We rather like the Hotel Chateaubriand but I’m not that keen on the way they organise their wifi. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very pleased they have it and it’s free (actually, if they didn’t have it we’d stay somewhere else) but there’s one thing that is really, really stupid.
Like most places, they have a login and passcode to access the Internet, which is fair enough. They change these every day (given the format I assume the selection is completely random) which is very good. There is then a limit to when these details can be used. Again, this is an excellent idea.
It is possible to check-in at 3pm and the latest you can check out is midday so, something that I’m wondering is why the Internet codes work from midnight to midnight. What this means is that for someone staying one night, if they want to use the Internet in the morning (say they need to check an address or a phone number or just an important email) they will need to go down to reception and get the new codes. This strikes me as just silly.
Anyway, apart from that little bit of strangeness, the hotel was very nice and we slept the sleep of the innocent and woke, first to sun and then to rain. The day doesn’t appear to be improving.
We had a lovely (as expected) breakfast In the Unicorn (discovering that fromage blanc isn’t actually white cheese, as one would expect, but extremely basic yoghurt) then went to the station to pick up our hire car, a little black Peugeot, whatever that means.
Why does it always take so long when you pick up a hire car? When I organised it, I supplied them with all the information they could possibly want but when we arrive, they then spend half an hour asking the same things. I find that quite annoying so you can imagine how much Mirinda enjoys it.
Anyway, we eventually managed to get the car, hooked up Linda and set off for Mestre, our halfway stop. It didn’t take long for us to realise two things about Linda. Firstly, she is a bloody good navigator which makes my holiday that much more enjoyable and, secondly, she has a weird way of pronouncing French names when there’s actually an English equivalent.
Take the word ‘avenue’. For humans, it’s the same in French and English but Linda seems to think it sounds something like a constant stream of bubbles coming out of a plastic straw. It’s like she’s trying to show off her French accent skills. Sadly she has none and, in fact, then has problems with her English. Very odd. Still, I’m not that bothered because she’s so good at what she does.
I’d planned our trip to include a stop in a place called Chateau Gontier but we decided to stop in a village just before it. The village was called Quelaines Saint Gault and was very sleepy. Actually it was totally asleep except for a boulongerie/patisserie the owner of which I’m certain forgot to lock her door.
We had a lovely break beside a pond, complete with ducks. As we sat eating our bread and missing cheese, a French woman approached with a child and an older woman who I assume was her mother. Mirinda was reading but I caught the mother’s eye and said “Bonjour” which she answered with a stream of rapid French.
I shrugged and said “Non parlez Francais” which is “No speak French” which she responded with “Parlez vous Anglais?” to which I said “Oui” and nodded vigorously. She then started speaking to me in rapid French again. Interesting response. I don’t think she was mad.
Opposite the pond, in a small area obviously reserved for it, sat a small travelling circus which would not be leaving any muddy reminders, given that it had been sited on gravel – note Waverley Park rangers. In the front of the small area set aside for such entertainments was a very odd looking, even Picasso-ish statue. It’s enough to give kids the screaming hab dabs. This is what it looked like but I have no idea what it means, who it is or why.
After our rather odd lunch, we wandered back to the car, via the local church (of course), where I found a very telling stained glass window. I have often spouted off about the origins of Easter eggs and what they have to do with Jesus and, now, my questions are answered. Voila! Feast your eyes on the evidence that Jesus loved his boiled eggs in his own special egg cup.
We eventually left the church, just in time to get wet from a sudden downpour, predicted quite strongly by the very black cloud that had been following us up the hill. This wasn’t the first deluge we’d been through on our drive south but it was almost our last.
As we drew closer to our target (the small Domaine Mestre just outside Fontevraud) the weather improved no end. The temperature shot up by 5° and the clouds scuddered away to visit lonely families in southern England.
The farmhouse in which we were staying was lovely, secluded and without phone signal or Internet connection of any kind. The latter is not exactly true. The lady on reception told Mirinda that I could plug my netbook into her office socket if I liked but I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen.
We settled in, rested up and then popped into Montsoreau for an extremely necessary coffee given I hadn’t had one for the last six hours and was feeling a bit dangerous.
Montsoreau sits on the bank of the Loire and has its own Chateau on a hill. It’s very cute.
Montsoreau also has quite a few bars. We chose one and sat outside to enjoy our drinks to the accompaniment of traffic and a lovely view of the river.
We also walked all the way up to the Chateau to discover that it had closed five minutes before we arrived. We were philosophical. We hadn’t known it was there and had stumbled upon it accidentally. It’ll still be there for any future trips we’re never likely to take to Montsoreau so we can save it’s pleasures for later.
Something else we found which may be visited shortly was the Diana Merri, or something unsimilar, restaurant. It reminded Mirinda of the Merridiana in East Horsley which force fed us 15 tiramisu desserts because the waiter kept making mistakes.
But dinner for our first night was courtesy of our hosts at the farm. And what a meal! It was very big and featured many different dishes including a very nice cheese and lettuce dish. The meal was so good, it left us feeling full enough for eight so there was nothing for it but to retire for the night and dream about our day ahead.