Sunday evening we enjoyed dinner with the owners of La Petite Ferme. He is a trained cook and we enjoyed squash soup, salmon in papillote with shrimps and rice and beurre blanc, with tiramisu with pears and a chopped nut crust- a very enjoyable meal.
We studied Rick Steve’s book on the Loire and decided to see three castles on Monday. We drove to Azay le Rideau and wandered in the 16th century chateau, surrounded by the Indre River. The extensive attic was most impressive with 30 meter beams dating from the early 1500s. The garden was filled with empty tents so we did not wander.
After lunch in the village, we took out the tandem and rode 8 miles to the Villandry Chateau. It is privately owned by the great-grandson of a Spanish scientist and his American wife who acquired it in 1906 and the subsequent generations have restored the inside and passionately created incredible herb, kitchen, and decorative gardens. The chateau was originally built in 1536, ” the last great Renaissance chateau built on the Loire.”
From Villandry we rode on a cycle path along the Loire, with only about 1/4 mile of cobblestones, and no traffic! Our final stop was at Langeais, an imposing fortress of the Middle Ages, site of the marriage of King Charles VIII and Anne, duchess of Brittany, which brought independent Brittany into France. We biked back to Azay, for a total of 23 miles.
Our drive to les Sables d’Ollone took about 2 1/2 hours. We are staying on the Atlantic coast with our friends from the mid-1970s, Christine and Patrice Muller. After sleeping in until 8:30 am this morning, we walked along the beach, enjoyed lunch on the terrace, then returned to the beach for a refreshing swim. The town surrounds the large crescent beach separated by a walking, biking and one slow lane traffic promenade. Over the next few days, we are planning a bike ride along the coast, possibly a sailboat or motorboat ride, golf – the vacation within a vacation! “It’s a hard knock life!”