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Tourists in France

June 3, 2007

For the first time our relationship, we did some tourist stuff. I enjoy tourist stuff. I’ve been to Graceland and had my picture taken in front of the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, and the Statue of Liberty. But that was all pre-R. Despite our travels over the years, we’ve never done tourist stuff.

But Friday dawned partly cloudy and we were off to fulfill a decades old desire for R. We toured Chenonceau, a famous and beautiful chateau in the Loire valley.

Chenonceau

The ‘partly cloudy’ weather was important, because Geena was going with us. We arrived after a small detour through the adorable and thoroughly re-visitable town of Vouvray, where some homes are built inside the cliffs. This detour also allowed us a brief view of the town and chateau Amboise.

Amboise

After these detours we arrived mostly without incident at Chenonceaux, the village where the chateau Chenonceau is located. It’s a tiny town and cute as a button. We parked in the shade of the trees and joined the throngs headed toward the big house. Geena was intrigued and relieved to see that there were at least a half dozen other dogs on the grounds.

The rule at Chenonceau is that small dogs, carried in your arms, are allowed inside the chateau. Geena’s definitely lost weight since we left Crete, but she’s still at least 10 kilos (probably more like 10.5). How old is a child that weighs 22 pounds? Do people carry them much? My back was killing me after 10 minutes and we took a break outside.

R took went to look at the gift shop while the dog and I rested outside. Two American women were going through their just-acquired loot and I took the opportunity provided by anonymity to eavesdrop a bit. Here’s what I heard as they looked at the receipts:

“Where does it say how much that is in dollars?”

Which I probably should keep to myself to stop the perpetuation of the rumor that Americans are a bit egocentric.  Aside from more Americans in one place than I’ve seen in the last two years all tolled, there were lots of Asian (perhaps Japanese?) tourists. These women all carried umbrellas which they used them to shade themselves. There were also quite a few French people and the obligatory Brits.

Aside from the very pretty chateau, which R informs me is 596 years old, there were also two decorative gardens and a potager where they’d managed the apple trees to grow as borders, 18 inches high and wide and about 10 feet long. Cool! There were several things (including a maze and the wine cellars) which we saved for next time.

The train goes right to the village which is within a stone’s throw (if you’ve got a good arm) of the chateau. There is camping practically on the grounds. All in all, I think it would be a fabulous place for a weekend break or as a part of a tour of the Loire valley.

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