Ouchamps, Thursday 27th October 2011

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Ouchamps aire

We are at a tiny but adequate aire about 10 km south of Blois, after spending a couple of hours visiting the impressive Château Chambord, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

We stayed in Lac des Varennes four nights instead of seven, as the carp in the lake weren’t taking the bait and Adonis got fed up with the fishing (or lack of it).

After the rain on Tuesday morning, it turned out quite nice for the evening and all day Wednesday and we were able to eat outside in the sun again.  I made a chicken casserole and a chicken curry with the expensive bird and also some stock, which I’ll use for a lentil or bean stew with chorizo to make 3 meals out of it and not feel quite so ripped off.  Good job I enjoy cooking, even on holidays!

We left this morning at 9.30 am as we had packed everything last night and we were more or less ready.  I must also mention that the tripped fuse was not in the van, but on the hook-up box in campsite, which the manager fixed 2 hours after Adonis told him about it.

After a quick stop at Leclerk hypermarket in Château-du-Loir, where we bought some fine Jasniers local wine amongst other goodies, we followed the D938 south to Neuille-Pont-Pierre and the D766 east towards Blois to join the D951 in the south of the city.  We followed the river Loire east for about 10 km and joined the D84 at Montlivault south to Chambord.

Chambord Castle

After a frugal lunch in the Château carpark/aire, we started our visit of this most spectacular kings’ residence just after 1 o’clock, where every room holds a surprise, not least all the Royals’ portraits, impressive in size and mesmerizing in their regalia and fascinating costumes, even if some did look a bit ridiculous to today’s eyes.  I particularly loved Marie Antoinette splendid dress and Louis XIV chambers.  The building is a triumph of Italian Renaissance in France: its construction even involved diverting the river Loire to accommodate it!  It was designed by Italian architect Domenico de Cortona in 1519, with a mind-boggling double staircase attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci.  François I commanded the building of this jewel, but he never saw it complete.  It was continued by his son Henri II and then by Louis XIV, as they both loved hunting, which is another aspect of the grounds, with its 5440 hectares, the largest enclosed forest park in Europe.  Big game is the king of the area now, especially Red Deer and wild boar.  Unfortunately we didn’t have time to explore the forest, for we had to take Bramble for his afternoon walk, so we might have to come back some other time, as we love this Loire region.

Louis XIV bedroom

We would have stayed the night in the Château’s car park if it had been cheaper, but 20 E a night seemed a bit steep, so we just came back west on the D33, south on the D956 to Mon Repos and D77 southwest to this aire.  We followed the sat. nav. for a change, just in case, as we were a bit tired, but I still like to keep my eye on the map, so that I know where we are.

This aire is tiny, maybe room for 2 or 3 motorhomes tops, but it’s quiet, facing a lake on one side and the woods on the other.  We can empty grey water, toilet and there’s a free tap in toilet block by playing field, so it has everything we need.

Not sure whether to cook bacon and eggs tonight or Merguez and couscous: I’ll decide later.

Louis XIV bed at Chambord

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