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France Day 16 - A Historical Walk Around Chinon

By Sharon Parker

Being the 2nd of June we are now in so called high season. But as I sit here under overcast skies eating my breakfast of cereal, minus the croissants I should also have had because I munched on them last night,(yes I am a piggy) it does not not feel like high season at all. It is rather cool and I know, I know because I keep being told. this is not normal but it is my reality, my here and now. 

Now I can only assume because this is not normal it goes some way to explain my many uncomfortable experiences in the showers. French campsites are simply not geared up for cold weather. I go to shower and the tiles are freezing cold on my bare feet. Burgh!! To make matters worse the water is tepid at best and the timer gives you a max of a 3 seconds burst. Oh this is bloody ridiculous. Another cold unsatisfactory shower to add to the list. Shame really because it is the only minus I have found on the wonderful Les Rioms campsite. I am sure if it was hot it would not have been so bad but still a 3 second burst is not good whatever the weather. Water conservation in the extreme maybe but with the current floods and rain I doubt France is short of water right now.

The plan today after decamping is to head towards Angers. The roads are even quieter than usual this being a Sunday. We make sure we get to a supermarket before the 12:30pm Sunday closing time for supplies.

As we travel along more straight roads I can not help but ruminate on the fact that we seem to have rushed too fast through the Southern and Alpine regions. Hindsight is no good but rather than persist in beating myself up about what now seems a wrong choice I decide to put my positive head on. One thing we can make out of this is to treat it as a learning experience. With no prior knowledge how we were to know before hand which regions were the best? Plus we were always trying to outrun the rain which kept us moving more than we would have if it had been dry. If we come back to France again we will now how a much clearer idea on how long it takes to travel around here and which regions we found the most appealing. We are doing everything right, nothing wrong, for we are living and we are learning something new everyday. We are gaining new knowledge about this place called France and about our own selves. What we like and don't like what are our strengths and weaknesses. We are travelling and we are travelling light and in a simple as way possible. It is freeing and I let this good feeling infuse my soul. 

My soul may be light but my body is tired so we decide to stop earlier than planed because one thing is clear time is now on our side. So by 2.00pm we find ourselves at the 2* municipal Camping Chinon
The site is set in an impressive location opposite the Chateau and along the banks of the river Vienne. 

imposing chinon chateau like a castle dominating the town
The imposing ramparts of the Chateau provide a stunning backdrop to the campsite

For the price of €10 we can choose anywhere on the site we please. The site is basic but functional. The main shower block is modern but the other outside toilets are very basic but do contain plug sockets.

a concrete construction shower block at the campsite
Modern shower block on site
a caravan and awning with long grass all around in the trees at chinon
Looks like some campers like it here so much they have decided to stay long term.

After we pitch up it is actually warm enough for me to put a skirt on... Wow!! We take the short stroll across the bridge into the town. I find Chinon absolutely charming. Narrow cobbled streets twist and turn and are boarded by delightful old timbered buildings. Some of which date back to the 15th century and many have been very sympathetically restored.

timber framed french houses mixed with stone built ones
Old world timber houses make Chinon a delight. 

I am thoroughly enjoying the stroll and I am delighted by each new discovery. A small church with open doors and glowing stained glass windows lulls me temporarily inside. It is calm and serene in here but after a short reflection the rare sunshine pulls me back outside as more history awaits my discovery.

incredibly ornate stone masonry around an open door to a church
An open doorway invites the casual passerby inside
bright and colourful stained glass gothic windows of a church in chinon
Well worth the invitation.

More history comes in the form of Joan of Arc. She came to Chinon in 1429 aged just 16 to meet with Charles VII. According to legend, to test if Joan of Arc was indeed guided by god the King disguised himself and hid among the Lords and Ladies in the hall. However on entering the hall Joan of Arc walked directly up the real King in his disguise. Charles and his panel of clerics declared that Joan had indeed heard the word of God. Charles VII gave Joan of Arc over 10,000 men over whom she would lead as their captain.

a massive bronze statue of joan of ark, on her horse mid battle
The impressive statue in Chinon of the formidable Joan of Arc.

Although the sun was out the wind was a little chilly. However this did not prevent us from both enjoying a little ice cream each in the sunshine. After all the rain we had to pretend it was summer after all. It is so good to be walking around in a skirt and pumps with no heavy bike gear to weigh me down. So sprightly are we both feeling that we decide to have a go at walking to the chateau. As with most things they are further than you anticipate and it is all uphill. But we doggedly trudge on until we reach the entrance.  
Chateau de Chinon was originally built in the 11th century. It was in use until the 16th century but then fell into decay. It was restored in the 21st century to its current state at a cost of 14.5 million euros. 
We discover there is a fee to pay if you want to enter and walk the ramparts, after all they have to recoup that rebuilding cost some how. After a brief discussion as to whether we should pay or not we decide we have probably walked enough. We glance at the menu of the cafe situated at the entrance of the chateau but its prices are well beyond our budget so we turn around to head back they way we have come. At least it will be down hill. I get a beep and a holler and a wave from a passing car which puts a smile on my face and spring in my step.

ren, the bf, having a sit and rest on a step in his baggy shorts
Time to have a rest for Ren
sharon sat by a fountian pool in the sun at chinon
A little sit down for Sharon too

After posing for a shot by the fountain I discover I have put most of my skirt actually into the water. Nothing like trailing water as I walk along to keep one looking glamours!
As we reach the bridge we notice a curious sign to the left about an island. So we go to have a look. There is a large house at the beginning of the island but after that there is just a series of allotments set in woodland. There is a scarecrow festival of some sort going on and there is some rather bizarre scarecrows on display.

a very strange creation, looking like a donkey being ridden by a teddy
Can you guess what it is yet? 

It is growing dark so once we have a good look around the tiny island we head back to the bridge. It has been good to relax. To stretch those muscles and be a real tourist for the day. Eating ice cream and admiring ancient buildings. I feel most content as I hold the bf's hand and gaze at the setting sun over the river. 

red skies with occasional clouds in the fading sunlight
A beautiful end to a lovely day

Forming a Plan The formulation of a cunning a devious plan to take on Europe is formed in the tiny mind of our intrepid explorer...
The GF Question Do I take the gf with me to France? Can she come? Will she like it? These are all very difficult questions...
France...I wanna go but can I...?? Can Sharon make it to Europe? Will the kids survive? Will the bf behave? Is there any space for makeup? All these questions and more...
The Load Getting everything we NEED and a few items we WANT onto a motorcycle can be a problem. Now I have to work out how to get 3 WEEKS worth of gear onto the poor donkey(aka bike)
Camping In Cambridge The start of our Epic Adventure...or bike holiday around France. Cambridge is surprisingly nice really.
France - Day 1 Sharon's first day from her point of view. Cushy Cambridge and dry weather...what more could a girl want?
The Chunnel The Chunnel, I'm excited but also stressing because the bike's already broken before we leave the UK. I worry too much...
France - Day 2 - Bikes, Trains and Tents Sharon leads us through sunshine, hair issues, the Channel Tunnel and into France. But France is eerily quiet...
Here Comes The Rain Bike broken. Rain, endless dull roads, miserable towns and more rain. Oh the joy of travel! At least Epernay welcomed us with a huge smile :-)
France Day 3 - Crying Through The Rain The rain plays tricks with Sharon's spirit but a stiff upper lip and giving herself a good talking to see her through.
Rain Into Dijon Rain, rain and more rain. Just how long can it last? Would we be better off with a Jet Ski? Can we continue to keep our Great British Stiff Upper Lips?
France Day 4 - We Are Mustard We Are Dijon is the destination and we're surviving the rain...that makes us well mustard! We're happy in spite of the rain but how long can we keep smiling?
The Joy Of Being Lost As we head south the rain lightens but will it ever stop? I get lost which is no surprise, but lost turns out to be the best part of travelling. Are things finally taking a turn for the better? I do hope so...
France Day 5 - Biker's Paradise Sharon's day 5 in France starts out rough but improves considerably. What delights can put such a joyous grin on her face?
The Stunning Alps We are both facing a very strange situation...that of sunshine, warmth, beauty and pleasure.
France Day 6 - Magnificent Mountains Sharon shares the delights of the Alps. Sometimes life is good!
Highs And Lows From the stunning Alps to our ultimate destination...MONACO! Is it all I expected? Will it be as I imagined?
France Day 7 - Scooter Mayhem Sharon describes the best and the worst France has to offer. Ride on the back with her from the beauty of the countryside to the mayhem of Monaco
Resting And Deciding Today we stop to take a breather and recuperate. It's also time to make a decision about the rest of our journey. I used to be indecisive, I'm not so sure now.
France Day 8 - Chilling In The Pool A day off from the journey sees Sharon and Ren doing something very silly, breaking things and achieving very little. What a splendid way to spend a day!
Going West Day 9 sees us heading west from the coast. It's finally dry, but it's still windy so not too hot. The gf's not well and Ren is relentlessly lost. Overall not a bad day then!
France Day 9 - Poppies, Vines and a Wet Lettuce Feeling poorly rather spoils Sharon's day today. Still on she must go on and survive what might have otherwise been a good day.
Biggest Bridge In The World In glorious sunshine and fine health we make our way from Nimes to Millau complete with it's Viaduct. Sometimes life is good, occasionally it's great!
France Day 10 - Deflated to Elated Today is a good day for Sharon. Today the sun shines, the scenery is beautiful and the people are pleasant. Join her as France puts a smile on her face.
The Wettest Bridge In The World The Millau Viaduct ought to be impressive. It is, but nowhere near as impressive as the amount of rain falling from the skies.
France Day 11 - Grim Not every day can be filled with sunshine and smiles, even on holiday. This one certainly was not for Sharon!
False Hope Part One Ren would like to invite you to a joyous report about the delightful weather in the South of France! He'd like to. Instead it just rained and rained and rained and rained...
France Day 12 - It's Gloomy Inside And Out Sharon freezes her butt off during the night then is treated to a cold and wet ride. The Ren sure knows how to spoil a girl.
False Hope Part Two Is this the end? Has Armageddon arrived? Is this the Apocalypse? It sure as hell feels like it.
France Day 13 - Quietude For A While Sharon's report on another day of mixed weather. There's peace and beauty then there's mud and cold. said it would be easy!
Sunshine After Rain A night of rain soaked delirium. Will the day be any better? Will our travellers ever dry out?
France Day 14 - A Bit of 5 Star Luxury Sharon has a much better day on the road and a luxurious 5 star campsite. It's amazing what difference a little dry weather can make.
Back Into The Flatlands A quiet, simple and easy days ride through France for Ren. Pleasant enough but the flatlands are getting a little boring now.
France Day 15 - A Bit Of 2 Star Delight Sharon has an ordinary day and a frustrating battle with the weather.
Not Far To Chinon It's a short, easy and peaceful ride this day in France. Ren gets all philosophical too.
France Day 16 - A Historical Walk Around Chinon Sharon enjoys a hint of sunshine and the history of Chinon, France.
Shopping To Mamers Ren's airbed's leaking now. No problem, find a shop and buy a new one...easy? I don't think so...
France Day 17 - The Gift Of TIme Even though the weather is cool Sharon's heart is warmed by the people she meets in France today
Don't Go To Ault Ren has a grim, long, dull and uninspiring day in France. The accommodation doesn't help.
France Day 18 - Is This Misery Or Joy? Sharon finds sunshine, ancient caravans and ponders about hapiness.
Looking For Luxury With time on their side Ren looks for the perfect campsite for the next to night. Not finding it makes him a very grumpy boy.
France Day 19 - Campsite Conundrums Although the wind blows the sun is shining while Sharon looks for the perfect pitch.
Resting In Ambleteuse Ren philosophises too much on the final day of his trip around France.
France Day 20 Sharon's in a reflective mood on the last day of our French trip.
Back Into England Ren recalls the final day of the French Adventure. It's all over far too soon.
What Did We Learn? Ren sums up his thoughts about France and the French trip.
France On Reflection Sharon sums up her her experience of the French Trip. Damn those Alps.

Reader's Comments

john de ville said :-
keep the travelogue coming, great reading.......I can just see the trail of wet floor behind
01/01/2000 00:00:00 UTC

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