5.3.09 Happy Birthday to Me- and leaving Paris

Blois Travel Blog

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5.3.09  Happy Birthday to Me- and leaving Paris  (rhymes if you say “Paris” in the French way- “Pear-E”)

 

5:30 am- Up to drive Ned to the metro for his flight home.  Ugh!  I am not an early person and it is always just so sad and depressing to see him go.  Fortunately, all went smoothly and 6am on Sunday beat all the traffic.  We skipped right on out of Paris after that into the beautiful French countryside before we could dwell too much on his leaving..

 

Chartres Cathedral (UNESCO site) was lovely, but closed at 8am- we checked every entrance after following it’s pealing bells from our roadside “touriste bus” parking spot.  We were the only ones awake from the looks of it.  The 12th century cathedral was lovely from the outside- our 4th “Notre Dame” cathedral Jazy reports.  “Our Lady” is a popular name for churches.

 

Beautiful, country roads through fields of green grass and yellow flowers led us to Chambord- the biggest chateau (castle) of the Loire River Valley, an area known for it’s prolific castles.  Big huge “Wow!” factor with Chambord. 

 

Inside, we enjoyed the movie of how it was built before self-touring through the double-helix marble staircase and the “museum” with things like products advertised as “Chambord,” portraits of residents (royalty), and some furnishings (like the King’s bed, that looked just like the one at Versailles).

 

Entry was 9.50E adults, free for kids under 18.  Yahoo!  RV parking was free with ticket validated at the ticket desk.  You could also stay overnight for 15E (may be 10- I had trouble reading the sign).  Chambord is also apparently a UNESCO site as well, although it was not on my GPS POI list.

 

We walked through the local small town market on the way out and bought fresh baguette and a round bread.  Yum!

 

Then we remembered that today is my 41st birthday!  It seems a long time since our Granbury, TX celebration a year ago.  What a terrific mid-life gap year my 40th was!  I feel so grateful and lucky for this past year of travel.

 

But wait- there’s more- the day sure is long when you get up at 5:30!  Goodness!

 

It was just 10 miles to Blois, which is a delightful 13th century town.  We came on recommendation from the “France” book that the Behans kindly let us borrow.  Blois has an amazing cathedral for such a small town.  We discussed a lovely painting in the church that was badly in need of restoration (torn, dark, picture fading).  These churches require so much money to maintain - we gladly donate since it was refreshingly free to enter.  In fact, we practically had the place to ourselves.

 

In the lovely ancient town, we stopped in one of the market stores to buy apples, another to get a local wine, jam, Perrier and foie gras pate (regional specialties).  We already have fromage (cheese) bought yesterday and for dinner, we ate a feast in the RV.

 

Charles played the “School of Rock” movie on his iTouch for us, which was really funny.  We tried to call Ned and Nathalie at a nearby payphone (cabine), but it sucked down 10% of my phone card time and could hear nothing.  I’d hoped for confirmation that Ned was home safely.

 

Nathalie is an online French friend who is interested in doing a Canadian RV exchange next summer. She’s my age with 4 kids, is an English teacher and lives within 30 miles of here.  I hope we can meet up tomorrow, if only briefly.  She’s been very generous inviting us over and seems like a really neat person.  Unfortunately, her youngest child just got chicken pox - my three kids haven’t been exposed to it, since the vaccine virtually eradicated it from the U.S.  So I don’t know what to do to avoid contagion, which I think is still possible after the vaccine.  Ahhh, will figure it out tomorrow after more sleep.

 

I was so tired that I forgot to check for wi-fi in town.  Charles said that anywhere that said “Orange” had wifi, but we need to check that.  Yesterday, we learned that many parks in Paris offered free wifi.  We got on Boingo yesterday, right beside Fat Tire Bike Company!  On the iTouch, we used the Skype program and a special headset that Ned brought to call my Mom yesterday.  We got disconnected with low battery, but it was really neat to talk for like $.025 a minute for iTouch to regular home phone/cell phone.  Wow!

 

So where are we now?  We’re at a delightful free Aire along the Loire River.  That Aires in France book that I preordered before Alaska trip is worth it’s weight in gold.  Keith and Ann from Apr 21 said there are also “Aires in Spain” and “Aires in Portugal” books as well. 

 

Anyway, back to our “campground.”  There are about 8 motorhomes backed into marked spaces overlooking an island filled with birds and the beautiful, arched bridge into Blois.  We are right across from the Police Station- feels very secure.  After 50E a night in Paris, this free site in a welcoming, lovely town is terrific.

 

France apparently loves motorhomes- the Aires are only for us, no caravans (trailers) or tenters.  We saw a motorhome twice in the Blois, one down the first street to the left headed south of the Bois campground, the second RV was just off the Rue de Hippodrome, the main road that is south of the campground (also goes into Surness).  I believe they were overnighting there the entire time we were paying 500E at the campground for 10 nights. 

 

I think the French governments and people are just nice about motorhoming in France.  I have heard several English people say they love to camp in France, but not England, because of the attitude toward motorhomes.  We do spend in the communities that welcome us!  If we can find service aires (also listed in our book) where we have fresh water and tank emptying at a freestanding kiosk (which uses coins or nearby-purchased jetons “tokens”) then we can spend many nights at these lovely and proficient overnight Aires. 

 

Since we typically struggle to spend less than 100E a day (150E in cities), everything we can do to save is good.  Traveling with 4-5 people can really add up (gas, food, entrance fees, campground fees, souvenirs, etc).  While it did cost us $150 to change our airline tickets home, Jazy reminded me that every day costs us $150 essentially.  Good point. 

 

It depends on the country too and how far we drive. 

 

We’ve only driven about 1500 miles since March 21st!  Gas, while costing around 1E a liter for diesel (x 3.8 for a gallon), has been a negligible expense since Sugar seems to get mid-20’s mpg.

 

I need to warn the Behans to start their gas budget – with Ciao’s 8-10 mpg and the enormous distances driven in the U.S. wild west states, they will be buying 20 gallons of gas daily.  Hopefully, prices will stay under $2 per gallon for their trip.  I just hated when the gas pumps cut off at $100 and the tank wasn’t yet full (try over $7 a gallon in Canada last summer 2008!)

 

I put together some Paris transportation info gleaned and need to include that in  post- just a reminder to myself.

 

Bon soir!  (p.s.  people seem to speak less English now that we’re out of Paris!)

Transitory says:
If you don't mind my asking, which application did you use on iTouch for skype? I installed one but it doesn't work on my iTouch and failed me when I was abroad :(
Posted on: Jul 14, 2009
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photo by: wanderlass