'This is a castle. And we have many tapestries. But if you are a Scottish lord, then I am Mickey Mouse!'

I think I slept in this morning. We hadn't set a waking-up time, but Jez was ready before I was. We had breakfast (a whole pot of tea for me!) and set off for Loches.

Loches is the next sizeable town to St Cyran, so Jez was familiar with the Château de Loches, which is not a big, well-known tourist destination. We walked through the Saturday market and up into the walls of the old part of the city.

When we bought our tickets, the ticket-seller saw my magnetic-strip credit card (as opposed to the chip that lots of European cards have now) and asked where I was from. I like to think that he would have thought I was French if it weren't for my credit card. *grin*

Anyway, I said that I was from the USA and didn't bother to explain any differently for Jez, which, of course, set him off trying out his American accent. It's... very good. He, uh, shows lots of talent with accents. NO, HE DOESN'T! It was rubbish. ("RUBBISH!")

The castle was small but interesting and focused a lot on Charles VII and his mistress, Agnès Sorel. All of the rooms connect to each other in sequence rather than having some kind of corridor ("CORRIDOR!") connecting to all of them. Joan of Arc also had some history at Loches, as there seems to be a Joan-story in every town in France. She had to stop at Loches to chase down the Dauphin yet again when he wouldn't go and be crowned the first time she asked.

On the lower level of the castle, there was an exhibit on Louis XI and the changing perspective of history on the way he's been portrayed. Unfortunately, neither of us was very familiar with the backstory, so being told that the story was changing didn't do us much good. Apparently he liked to lock people in wooden cages - but only nobles and clergymen! And he was stingy - but he could be generous when he wanted something out of someone! He sounds quite charming, I'm sure.

After Louis XI, we headed over to the castle's donjon. I managed to wallop my head on a doorway or something early on, but as we weren't at Amboise, I was okay and didn't die.

Not... yet!

There are a lot of strange things at the Loches donjon, like the room advertised as Cardinal Balue's Dungeon which was later explained to have really been a grain mill that was long misidentified as the place of the clergyman's imprisonment, or the torture chamber that may or may not have been used as a torture chamber. But there was a lot to see in the various towers of the dungeon, and it was worth all of the tiny spiral staircases we had to climb up and down and up and down and up and down.

Yes, worth it. But only barely. :)

With all that walking UP AND DOWN AND UP AND DOWN ABOUT A MILLION STAIRCASES, we worked up an appetite and stopped for croques and to find some nice English-speaking English tourists to embarass Jez (there had already been plenty of Americans for me at Chenonceau the day before).

After lunch, we took off for Azay-le-Rideau, which Jez's parents had warned us was very nice on the outside but not much to see on the inside. We had to go somewhere before Chinon, though, and break up the stair-heavy medieval castles with something more Renaissansical*. We stopped for drinks again before hitting the château and had nice refreshing menthes à l'eau. The town was very nice and flowery with bridges and ducks and bright, narrow streets leading to the castle.

On the inside, as predicted, the Château d'Azay-le-Rideau was kind of boring. Lots and lots of tapestries, not much royal history, as it was the château of a nobleman rather than a royal residence. The outside was very nice, though, with a cleanly trimmed lawn, nice gardens and trees and bridges and a nice moat with ducks and swans and crocodiles and hippopotomi in it.

What's next, then? Righty-o. We walked back to the car, stopping to watch the ducks on the way, then drove to Chinon. We parked next to the river and walked up the hill to the castle. On the way we stopped at the Église St Maurice, just as Joan of Arc once did - except I don't think she stopped to listen to the organ practice. And I bet if she had, the organist wouldn't have stopped as soon as she walked into the church and picked up again as soon as she left! Not that that happened to anyone I know.

We continued up the hill to the Château de Chinon. Thankfully it was a hill rather than stairs! Chinon is now mostly in ruins, but you can see the remnants of the medieval fortress where Joan of Arc first met the Dauphin Charles and picked him out of a crowd of courtiers, telling him to go and be crowned king of France.

You can also see the remnants of a lot of other stuff, but it's mostly towers that you can climb UP AND DOWN using spiral staircases and look out of tiny slit-windows and pretend you're shooting arrows at people. It may have once been the dog kennel or the pantry, but now it mostly looks like a tower room with some tall, narrow windows.

The room where the famous meeting took place is actually mostly gone now, with a few feet of wall in place as well as the fireplace at one end. Grass is growing inside, but if you have a lot of imagination, you can remember it as it was... in movies.

We walked back through Chinon, keeping an eye out for dinner. Well, Jez did, as dinner was his bailiwick and I refused to participate in any decisions. We worked out a trade where when he buys me a private jet, I will buy him a courtyard with a house to go with it. I hope he doesn't buy me a private jet, but now it's blogged for all eternity so I guess I'll have to stick to it.

We ended up going back to Loches for dinner, as Jez had heard of a new pizzeria that had recently opened up. The Pizzeria Sforza was named for Ludovic Sforza, the Milanese nobleman who was a prisoner in the Château de Loches but had his jester imprisoned with him and was allowed a guarded escort to go hunting in the local forests from time to time.

Luckily we were very clever this time and only ordered a demi-bouteille of wine. I had a Lochoise pizza, which had ground beef ("GROUND BEEF!"), potatoes, onions, crème fraiche, olives** and I don't know what else. It was very tasty and very never-ending.

Just for the record, I do, from time to time, finish everything on my plate. Anyone want to back me up on this one?

*crickets chirp*

Hmm. Well anyway, a hen party ("HEN PARTY!") came in just as we were finishing up our dinner, so we escaped into the streets and tried to figure out how to get ahold of Jez's friend Ben, who had invited us to a party that night. He hadn't answered his phone all day, but Jez had a vague memory that the name of the location of the party started with C. So we scoured the road map and eventually came up with La Courroirie.

We got there, parked along the side of the road and walked across the grass to the party. It was an enormous sort of fête, apparently organized by Ben's brother-in-law (?), who has owned nightclubs in Paris. There was music, artists showed their music, and a hot air balloon was in- and de-flated over the course of the evening. We had a few drinks and talked to Ben and his Franco-Australian friends, tried to be deep and appreciate the modern art, giggled, were hypnotized by digital video art and, after a few hours, left to get back home.

We are such party animals that we left the party around midnight and came home and played Trivial Pursuit until 3am! I won both games that we played, but my victories were rather suspect as Jez would skip any of the Entertainment or Sports & Leisure questions that seemed too Anglo-centric. I ended up getting a pie piece at one point for knowing that if the Detroit Red Wings were playing the Chicago Blackhawks, it would be a hockey game. %)

srah - Saturday, 17 July 2004 - 9:34 PM
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Comments (22)

gravatar alfie - July 19, 2004 - 5:07 PM -

Wow. You actually got a sports question right. Too bad it involved the Wings. If it had been what sport would you be watching if you were watching a game between the Houston Texans and the Arizona Cardinals, I bet you would be at more of a loss.

gravatar alfie - July 19, 2004 - 5:08 PM -

Was it rubbish in the boot? ;P

gravatar alfie - July 19, 2004 - 5:10 PM -

What's with all of the parentheses? (PARENTHESES!)

gravatar MaTT - July 19, 2004 - 5:14 PM -

and what IS a 'hen party'? a loud gabby group of people?

gravatar Rachel - July 19, 2004 - 6:10 PM -

I'm throwing a hen party on Friday! But Matt isn't invited. Even if it were a loud gabby group of people, he wouldn't be invited because he only mumbles, so he could only be invited to like a cricket party... ;)

gravatar MaTT - July 19, 2004 - 7:17 PM -

What?! Wait, so is this like some Secret Society of the Chickens or something? I *knew* i failed to get into that... :( Or don't i want to be invited to this type of party...? "Hen." Hmm.... i might get it now :)

gravatar Cheryl - July 19, 2004 - 8:25 PM -

These most recent entries are so long, my attention span would let me read them. But hope all is well. :)

gravatar MaTT - July 20, 2004 - 12:41 AM -

That's good, because mine wouldn't... ;) (sorry srah!) I did come back to them again and reread so i could fill in the parts i skipped :)

gravatar srah - July 20, 2004 - 4:33 AM -

Indoor soccer? Women's basketball?

Parentheses are explained in the Friday post!

A hen party is a bachelorette party.

Oh well! At least I have my weekend written down so I can remember it!

gravatar mommy - July 20, 2004 - 8:48 AM -

I've enjoyed reading about your weekend. My attention span, though old, is long enough to read the entire post. Sounds like you had fun.

gravatar alfie - July 20, 2004 - 10:20 AM -

Professional football...yay! I can still beat you!

gravatar srah - July 20, 2004 - 10:27 AM -

Real football or American football? ;)

Who can tell me where this post's title comes from? Ten imaginary Euro to the winner!

gravatar alfie - July 20, 2004 - 11:34 AM -

American football and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."

Don't mess with me when I have a faster than dial-up connection and it's daylight over here. ;P

gravatar mommy - July 20, 2004 - 12:26 PM -

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Never challenge me with a Harrison Ford movie.

gravatar srah - July 20, 2004 - 1:01 PM -

Are you threatening me over the INTERNET?


gravatar alfie - July 20, 2004 - 2:35 PM -

No, I was challenging you.

gravatar Jez - July 20, 2004 - 5:10 PM -

You beat me at Trivial Pursuit? What strange dreams you've been having!!!1

gravatar Weird guy with the beard - July 20, 2004 - 5:25 PM -

I think it was Ben's brother-in-law who organised the fte. I met him at Christmas when we went off to some other party in the middle of nowhere

gravatar srah - July 21, 2004 - 4:37 AM -

Yars, hmmm, didn't even blog about the toothpaste. :D

gravatar srah - July 21, 2004 - 2:43 PM -

Those damned crickets are still chirping. :(

gravatar Jez - July 21, 2004 - 3:56 PM -

I think you cleaned your plate at least once over the weekend.

gravatar srah - July 22, 2004 - 3:17 AM -

When there was dessert on it!

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