Monday, July 21, 2008

Paris: Day 23 - Chartes & Loire Valley trip

Our Saturday started out early and hurried! We had to meet our group at the bus at 7:20 am. We rushed around (luckily we packed the night before) and practically ran down our street. Luke was up almost the whole night the night before, of course, and we had a VERY hard time waking up when the alarm went off. We were pretty relieved when we sat down on the bus.

Our weekend tour started out in Chartes, France with a tour of Chartes Cathedral and its stained glass. The tour was given by the world famous cathedral scholar Malcolm Miller. We each had our own headset and Malcolm sat in the front of the group with a microphone around his neck and pointed out things with his laser pointer. He was very knowledgeable and interesting and I LOVED his British accent! The cathedral is over 1,000 years old and is devoted to the Virgin Mary. Chartes even supposedly has the garment that Mary was wearing when she gave birth to Jesus. This is one of the things that has attracted so many pilgrims over the years and the reason that the cathedral is so magnificent! I am not sure if Malcolm believes if the garment really was Mary's but he did say that it has been dated back to 2,000 years ago so it could be Mary's.

the Chartes cathedral

Malcolm Miller leading our tour of Chartes cathedral

Allison & Luke in front of Chartes cathedral

The stained glass windows were pretty amazing as well. They are the oldest existing gothic style windows. They are very valuable and during WWII they were removed and hidden in a secret hiding place. The cathedral made it through the war amazingly unharmed and the windows were returned. Malcolm Miller explained a few of the stained glass windows to us during our tour. He said that Chartes Cathedral is a library of history and stories. He said that it would be impossible to do an entire tour in one hour. When we were finished we believed him! It is neat that the cathedral tells stories. It was built during a time that there were not books or copies of the Bible. Paper was not even available in France. People knew about the Bible by viewing the symbolism in the cathedral.

a stained glass window in Chartes

Allison at the market in Chartes

We had lunch in Chartes. The was a farmers market close to the cathedral and we found a place that had rotisserie meats and potatoes that we love. We got it to go and ate on a bench close to the bus so that we would make it back to the bus in time! Then we got back on the bus and headed to the Royal Castle at Blois. We ended up having a guided tour of the castle. The castle was furnished and restored on the outside and inside. We wandered around with our tour guide and saw magnificent fireplaces (you can stand in them), upholstered walls, paintings and tapestries on every wall, statues and busts, and Catherine de Medeci's secret cabinets. The secret cabinets were so neat and they still work after all of these years! We spent 2 hours there and then we loaded back on the bus again.

the chateau at Blois

Philip and Luke in the great hall at Blois

Philip and Allison at Blois

Our next stop was the Jarry family vineyards in Vouvray. The Jarry family lives and makes their wine in a cave! On our way in to Vouvray the streets are lined with caves that date back to prehistoric times and people are still living in them. It was really neat and different to see. You would see a grassy hill with all of these chimneys poking out! It was a beautiful area and town. We toured the wine cellar that the Jarry family has used to make their wine since the beginning of the 1900's. Mr. Jarry showed us his cellar and his glass collection that he has organized by color. After the tour we had a wine tasting of 4 different wines. It was so cute! He had some benches out and during the tour Mrs. Jarry had set out the tasting glasses and filled them and had them sitting in a long row. The Jarry's dog was wandering around the whole time too. After the tour the dog went and laid in his doghouse which is made out of a wine barrel! I loved it!

Monsieur Jarray speaking to us about his winery

Allison in the caves/cellar

the Jarray's dog in the wine barrel doghouse

So after the tour we got back on the bus again for another hour headed to Azay-le-Rideau. We got there around 6:00 pm and we all got our room assignments at the hotel. It was a cute little inn that is actually a Best Western. We were in room number 1. Luckily we had our own room and bathroom! It was nice to be settled in but that didn't last long. K-Rae had made reservations a very nice restaurant for herself and Phil's International Business Transactions professor and she had two more reservations so we got to go along!

the restaurant we ate dinner at in Azay-le-Rideau

It was a very nice restaurant. It looked just like a regular place from the outside but in the back of the restaurant was an outdoor seating area and it was quaint and beautiful. The floor was gravel and there was a big old tree in the middle that was so green and draped with lights. I felt like I was in an old movie! The nice restaurants have four courses and you order everything at the beginning. There is a starter, entree, and then the cheese course and then dessert. I had the vegetable starter, pork entree, no cheese course and a brownie with bananas for dessert. Phil had the mackerel starter, duck entree, no cheese and peach dessert. The peach was caramelized (like my bananas) and there was a tiny scoop of pistachio ice cream. My brownie was covered with a vanilla cream of some kind. Everything was so beautiful and it was fun to go with a group that spoke French! Sorry no pictures of this experience.

After dinner we went directly to the Sound and Light Show Promenade on the castle grounds. This was probably the part of the trip that we liked the least. The castle was neat all lit up but other than that it was kind of weird and not really our style. Luckily Luke fell asleep before the tour even started. Isabel was pushing him around in the stroller while we were waiting to get in to the tour. It didn't start until 10:30pm and we were already so exhausted. We pushed on through the tour and walked back to the hotel. We didn't get to bed until midnight and we slept like logs!

the sound-and-light show at Azay-le-Rideau

1 comment:

Guppy & the Worm said...

WHAAAAT!!!! No cheese course????

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