April 9 - 12 , 2006
The second trip happened while Susan was in Australia visiting her parents. She was at Ayers Rock, and I decided that it was time to test the waters again. I rang my mate, Bryan the Artist, and asked if he was interested in a trip. This time we were going to Loches in Indre et Loire
Bryan lives in Cockermouth (oop north), so we arranged that he would drive to Stanstead Airport, and we would fly to Paris together, driving from there. The flights, hotel and car were booked - then the French Air Traffic Controllers went on strike and all flights were cancelled. This was a problem, because Bryan had a meeting the next week he couldn't miss. Then, luckily a window opened, and we arranged to fly out on the Sunday and back on the Wednesday. This would allow us time to visit the market in Loches on Wednesday. This time Bryan was flying from Durham with BMI, and I was flying from Heathrow with BA.
Amazingly, both flights were on time, and we even managed to meet up in the agreed place. Car hired, we hotfooted it around Paris (in the rush hour), spending a lot of time following a circus van that was carrying an alligator. We found a hotel in Amboise (eventually) where one or two beers were partaken of before bedtime.
The next day it was, as on the previous trip, a parade of uninspiring properties, albeit with some amazing views and interesting signs in between, including Valencay, and an threatening set of clouds. Although we were getting fairly hungry for lunch (Monday and all the shops and restauants being closed), we weren't tempted to have burgers.
I was pretty dispirited by the houses I had seen so far. There were places being advertised on the internet that looked promising, but once again, they had been sold the day before I arrived in France. It appears that some people arrive in the country and just make an offer on a house without having any kind of survey done. Susan and I had always intended to have any house we were really interested in surveyed properly before making an offer. We weren't going to buy somewhere just on a whim only to find out later it was totally structurally unsound - or needed a new roof....................
Luckily, a good dinner and a digestif restored my faith in what I was trying to do, and the views of the chateau and old town of Loches are enough to restore anyone's spirit.
Next day we went to Loudun (via Richelieu, which looks worth another look when we have more time). There we saw a great old possibly 15th century building, well within the price range, but needing a lot of work having been used as a bit of a doss house for a while. We also saw a property at St Jean de Sauves which instantly appealed. The price was perfect, the village was interesting, and it had a garden with a well, along with an allotment plot. I liked this place a lot, but without Susan being there, felt I couldn't make an offer. (Needless to say, it was sold a week later, before Susan could see it).
That evening we dined at the Gerbe d'Or in Loches. A simple meal, just an entree and main - until the man at the next table ordered a desert. We then both decided we had to have the Cointreau Souffle. I have never taken a photo of a meal before - and may never again - but this was worth it. Magnificent.