In mid-September my old friend Suzanne visited the Touraine. She'd been touring England with her husband, having a great time and meeting long lost relatives. They came over to Paris for a few days, then Kenny went home to Australia. Suzanne stayed on though because she was going to be joined by her friend Karen. In between she had a few days footloose and fancy free, so she came down to Tours. We were working for part of the time she was here, but we had a day and a half together.
We visited Alexandre Monmousseau at Chateau Gaudrelle. He got a bit carried away and took us up to the vines via the Chapel of Saint George before treating us to a tasting. Then we had dinner at a bistro in the Rue Nationale.
Suzanne and I at the entrance to Langeais chateau.
The next morning we picked Suzanne up in Claudette and headed for the Chateau of Langeais. We were using her as a trial run for including the chateau in our tours. We wanted some feedback from her about the experience and what she considered the highlights. Unfortunately it was a drizzly day, but it didn't spoil it too much.
Lunch was taken in the outwardly uninspiring looking restaurant in Lignières-en-Touraine, which we had never used before but suspected did a good workers lunch. We were proved right and they were friendly if somewhat bemused to be feeding a group of, as they thought, American tourists.
Naturally, being in Lignières meant we took Suzanne across the road to see the painted church there. So that was two medieval painted churches in two days -- not bad going for a first visit, even here. At Saint Martin's in Lignières we were accosted by a local woman who wanted to be sure we knew what we were looking at. After being reassured that we knew the church well she toddled off.
Suzanne with Claudette, back at our garage in Tours and trying to pretend it isn't drizzling with rain.
Then we paid a brief but wet and chilly visit to the gardens at Villandry. It was here that Suzanne revealed her orders from Kenny. He had given her a copy of their local newspaper and insisted that she and I get photographed 'reading' it. We decided a rose bower at Villandry was as good a place as any, and inveigled a British tour escort who was lurking around waiting for her group to take our photo. My Dad will no doubt be amused to see me in the paper.
The weather deteriorated sufficiently that we decided to head back to the garage to put Claudette away and continue the day in our modern car. For the grand finale we visited Chenonceau so Suzanne could see the best known of the Loire Valley chateau. Then it was back to Tours, where she was staying at La Maison Jules in the centre of town. We recommended it and she loved it (and her host Alexandra).
We all had a very nice time, simultaneously catching up and seeing new things. Suzanne was very glad she had the opportunity to come down from Paris for those few days and we were very pleased to see her and talk about how life has been for both of us since we last saw one another nearly 20 years ago. Like all good Australian visitors she came bearing Arnott's Vita-Weats and Angus Park dried apricots, both products which are unobtainable in Europe. Much appreciated.