The alarm sounded, 06.45 Saturday 10th May. . . . ring . . . .ring. . . . .
The journey began when I was collected from home at 07.55 and taken to the bus terminal at Exhall, a little way out of Coventry. The weather was sunny and warm. I joined the feeder coach which took us to Dover – the channnel port and main ferry terminal for crossing the English Channel to mainland Europe. Here we joined coach number 649, and driver Kevin. The French customs officials, based in Dover, just waved us through and onto the 16.00 hours ferry. The 22 mile journey took 80 minutes to Calais. French summertime is one hour ahead of England so we disembarked at 18.30, still a 3 hour drive from the Paris hotel. The hotel was buiilt alongside 3 others, between the two runways of Charles De Gaulle International Airport. Ok for folk jetting off to the 4 corners of the world but not ideal for a coach riding plane phobic !!!!!
Sunday – Smashed my bottle of aftershave on the bathroom floor. Breakfasted in the Rome Room and joined my fellow travellers on the coach at 9. We drove into the centre of Paris and parked outside the Moulin Rouge, awaiting our tour guide. We then did a two hour lightening tour of that cities sites. At 11 we joined a river cruise, which basically circumnavigates the Isle of the Parisii – the original inhabitants of the city.
The coach left the capital at 14.00 heading towards our hotel and dinner in Tours. We arrived at 17.45 and once allocated my room,which overlooked Liberty Square. I showered and got down to the dining room in time to have a glass of wine before the meal. The starter was a homemade quiche followed by a meat, vegetables and fried potatoes. . . Only two of the party ate the meat when it was discovered it was cheek of wild boar. I make no comment.
Monday – A view of Loire Valley as we headed for Chateau de Chambord, passing through Amboise where so we were informed, Mike Jaggar has a home! The chateau at Chambord was a fascinating mix of french history and touristy pap. Built apparently as a hunting lodge for one of the Kings mistresses! From there we continued to Samaur – saw its Chateau but the place was not too impressive. Having said that it was a national holiday. Dinner menu was Goats Cheese Salad , Fish with asparagus followed by a cheesecake with raspberry sauce…[Coulis ?].
Tuesday – Sunny start on our journey into the Dordogne. We stopped for lunch in Cognac – home of the cognac industry in France. Outside the district they have to call the brew – brandy! Had my first lunch of the tour – chicken with salad, bread and a glass of vin blanc at a cafe on the main square of Cognac. I really must attend more french classes ! The party reassembled and we did a tour of the Otard Museum. A castle built by Francis 1 to defend the town against the Norman invaders. At the end of the tour we had a cognac tasting ! .. .. .. We left the bustling town of cognac and headed eastwards to Le Bugue and the Dordogne. Passing through wooded countryside we saw a Buzzard swooping down into a nearby field hunting its prey. Fascinating – I have only seen them in zoo’s or on TV. . . .A picture I shall keep in my minds eye for ever !!
To be continued . . . . .