Thursday, December 08, 2005

Oh Chenonceau... I long to see you, upon the rolling river

20051207 - 3 Chenonceau (9)
Forging eastwards I found myself low on petrol, and used almost all of my reserves driving around Chinon to find a service-station. I stopped in at a cafe and gesticulated while murmuring "l'essence?" after which I was directed to a very well hidden purveyor of l'essence next to a LeClerc superstore. Rolling up to the pump, I was dismayed that the completely automated station would not take any of my credit cards. I trudged up to the main store to find a solution … which involved waiting around for 30 minutes until a human was available to accept payment.

20051207 - 3 Chenonceau (12) 20051207 - 3 Chenonceau (26) 
I finally got going again and reached Château de Chenonceau, east of Tours, at 3.30. It’s an incredible fantasy edifice built bridge-style over the river Cher. A single hall fills most of the space on the main level across the river, with kitchens sitting amongst the spaces in the tops of the bridge piers. Even mid-afternoon, the place was amazingly cold.
Chenonceau interiors
20051207 - 3 Chenonceau (25)I’d booked a little hotel in Chambrey-les-Tours, described as a village outside Tours, but which turned out to be an ugly snarl of highways, superstores and neon. I circled the area for another half-hour before I finally found the hotel, also a far cry from the description. Too tired to look for anything else (and I’d prepaid) I turned in for a very early night. Of course, as soon as I checked in, I had to cough up for all the extra charges that are typical of French hoteliers' checkout procedures. I wish there was a code of conduct for advance disclosure of charges. The hotel clerks simply abandon their earlier fluent English and ignore any protests.
20051207 - 3 Chenonceau (1) 20051207 - 3 Chenonceau (5)

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