Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rolling with Rick

I've been pleasantly AWOL for the last few days, first visiting Cambridge and London and then squiring my friend Rick about here. I'll blog London later, but first here are the results of Rick and I playing silly buggers in the Loire Valley.

I met Rick at orientation when I was an assistant in Nice and he was in Saint Raphael, and while we hit it off straight away, we actually only saw each other a few times in the seven months we were both living down there. However, we talk a lot on Skype and Gchat and so on and he's become a really close friend, the kind of guy you can turn to for anything and know he'll always be there to listen and give advice and annoy me by asking questions I don't have the answers to :) His three-night visit (which he promised me two years ago when I left Nice) was the longest we've ever hung out for and it was great to see click just as well spending hours on end together as we do over a webcam.

Anyway, soppy stuff over (and note to anyone with the wrong idea, we're just good friends)! I got back to Tours on Sunday afternoon and spent the next couple of hours cleaning and preparing dinner (in the course of which I managed to slice my finger open rather badly in a monumentally stupid fashion that I'm too embarrassed to describe on the blog) before Rick turned up in the evening. I made him watch the Formula One with me, which he claimed to enjoy despite falling asleep, and then it was off to bed.

The next day was spent enjoying the glorious weather we've been having, basically chilling out walking around, seeing the sights of Tours, and enjoying lunch and a cider in the sunshine before heading home to have dinner with Liz and Charlie, a couple of my friends.

Yesterday, despite much huffing and puffing on my part, we headed to Chenonceau (my third visit, hence the bitching and moaning). It was actually a nice trip, especially since I took advantage of having a willing partner in crime to take a variety of "hilarious" pictures in and around the chateau. The place was full of Russian tour groups as far as the eye could see, but it was another beautiful day and we had fun. After that, we came back to Tours and did a degustation at the Maison des Vins de Loire. This is basically an arm of the tourist office designed to promote Loire Valley wines, so you can do a degustation of 6 wines (and, in fact, she served us 7) for the bargain price of 5 euro. The wines were delicious, the woman running the place was really nice and we spent a very pleasant 45 minutes tasting, which is value for money in anyone's book, I would think. We did our degustation in French because the woman said she was more at ease in French and we didn't mind, but a group of Americans came in a bit later (you don't need an appointment, but I think they had made one) and she served them in English. So anyway, if you're ever in the neighbourhood, I would very much recommend a visit. They also do special themed degustations (for example, roses or chenin blancs or the vocabulary of wine tasting or whatever) in the evenings and weekends, which are a bit more expensive but more involved, which I would love to go to some time. Anyway, after that we wandered back to Place Plum for a few more drinks before heading home with a kebab. This morning, we had breakfast before Rick had to catch his train to Lyon & I was very sorry to say goodbye, but we had a lovely time!

Me jumping for joy at Chenonceau

Chenonceau is built over the Cher river

Me and Rick in front of the chateau

Rick on the castle balcony in front of the tower

Doing my best evil enchantress luring unsuspecting men into my chateau of death

The fourth Grace

Pretending to be a dinosaur in the chateau gardens

I'm a fancy lady!

Rick pretending to be Louis XIV

Pretending to be a... stoat?

Rick pouting at the cabinetry

This shot involved lying backwards on a window ledge over the castle moat

This would have been a nice picture if someone hadn't ruined it


  1. Glad you had a lot of fun! (No wonder you're not keen on "Miranda" - she reminds me of you a bit, hahaha!!!)

  2. Oh cheers, someone whose whole thing is being clumsy and awkward...

  3. I hope that there weren't too many men wandering past as you did your evil enchantress look! Those poor lost souls.

    The castle is beautiful and I love the location over the river. Thanks for taking the complicated leaning back over the ledge shot!

    Rick looks as if he makes a great partner in crime. And his resemblance to King Louis XIV is uncanny! He only needs to let his hair grow a bit.

  4. Ha ha, I can't possibly comment on how many men were lured to their doom! It really is beautiful, I was a bit meh about going for the third time, but it's a must-see for the region! Totally worth risking death (or, more plausibly, losing my sunglasses) for the moat shot :) I'll tell Rick to get right on to growing ringlets...

  5. Not a bad looking brontosaurus!

  6. Brontosauruses don't walk upright like that, silly! I'm clearly a T. Rex :)

  7. "Doing my best evil enchantress luring unsuspecting men into my chateau of death"

    Omg, this is how I get my men too! I knew we had a lot in common!

    Seriously, You're amazing. You win the best photo captions award!

    I'm glad you had fun with Rick. ; )

  8. Ha ha, if it wasn't for Seb we could totally team up ;)

  9. Ha! You are a veeery fancy lady and I love Rick's impression of Louis XIV. Glad you were able to get a kick out of your 3rd visit to Chenonceau.

  10. Thanks! He made us wait till the room cleared out to take the photo, so... erm... hope he doesn't mind me putting it on the blog! I'll just have to point out that all the laydeez loved it!

  11. Gwan, Now that I know that we're definitely going to the Loire Valley at the end of April I had to come back and reread this post. We're going to stay at the Chateau de la Villaine in Esvres and one of the castles we plan to visit is the Château de Chenonceau. Don't worry, I won't ask you to join us for your fourth visit to the castle!

    During the next days, I'm going to search your website for additional info.

  12. Chenonceau is definitely worth seeing. My past visits:

    My favourite small town is Chinon, the wine there is amaaazing too. More info plus my trip to the nearby château of Ussé:

    I really enjoyed seeing the castle and town of Blois with my parents, and was less impressed by Amboise and especially Le Clos Lucé (the Leonardo da Vinci castle)

    Another small town I visited is Langeais, which I know Ella has also blogged about:

    In and around Tours, I loved the Maison des Vins de Loire, as mentioned recently. There is also, of course, the cathedral

    and a perhaps lesser-known spot that I really enjoyed was the Prieuré de Saint-Cosme, in a suburb of Tours:

    Places that I haven't been, but have heard good things about include the Château of Villandry, mostly for the gardens, Château Chambord and the Abbey of Fontevraud, where a lot of the Plantagenet monarchs including Eleanor of Aquitaine, I think Henry II and Richard of Lionheart are buried.

    That's probably plenty out of me, you're probably wanting to relax on your trip!! Drink lots of wine, it's a fabulous region for it. And try some of the local specialities such as Saint Maure de Touraine cheese or rillettes.


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