Thursday, 27 August 2015

Le Tour de France part two From Paris to Blois

After my first night in France. I had my breakfast in the hotel dining room where I met most of our group. The breakfasts we had were "continental" and normally comprised of a selection of bread & rolls, fruit, cheese, jam, fruit juice and tea and coffee. The first breakfast, like the hotel, was poor in quality. We did not touch the fruit which looked like it had seen better days.
Rocky the Routemaster was parked outside. Rocky was our mode of transport. Each day we travelled through a part of France, taking in places of interest, sometimes these were planned, other times when we saw a cafe (and it was "coffee" time) we parked the bus and joined the locals. At the end of each day we stopped for our evening meal at a town near to the hotel, booked for that evening. Often it was late in the evening when we arrived, and almost time to go to bed. During the the next 13 days I learned a lot about the French way of life, and the way they served (or did not serve) lunches and drinks in the evening. 
The day of the 10th August was very warm with sunshine. The morning at this stage of the holiday was the best part of the day.
After leaving Cergy, we travelled along along country roads which pass through smaller towns and villages. This so where we saw real French life. During the bus journey we noticed many of the locals turning their heads and even taking out mobile phones and cameras to photograph our bus. We made regular comfort stops and bought water for the journey.
After about three hours we stopped in a village, Digny where we had a coffee in a typical French cafe bar called Le Merle Bleu. It was a great opportunity to practice my now rusty schoolboy French. 
Le Merle Bleu, Digny 

In Digny, a charging station for electric vehicles

We passed by Connere where there is a steam railway, but we were heading for Le Mans.
I think everyone associates Le Mans with motor racing. Indeed the race track and museum are just outside the town. For many years there has been the Le Mans 24 race for racing-cars, but also there are motor cycle and saloon car events.
The museum houses almost every type of car that has participated in the 24 hour race, and the rooms were full of fine examples of cars from early 1900s to the present day. There is plenty of material to read about the cars as well as the people behind the racing teams. The late actor Steve McQueen was also featured as he was also keen on motor sport as well as acting. 
The Le Mans mascot

A small Steve McQueen exhibition stand

A few French cars on display

A small open tourer

Two Renault "Quartre Cheveax"

There museum also has a well stocked shop and a cafe serving drinks and light snacks.
Le Mans not only has the race track and museum, but the town also has a modern tramway. Adam drove the bus to the out of town terminus where we saw and photographed a tram and several motor-buses. From the bus we also saw the tram depot. 
One of Le Mans modern trams

We then carried on with our journey as we need to reach Blois where our next hotel was booked the night.
Blois is a historic town on the river Loire, and it also has its own ch√Ęteau. We stopped in the town centre so we could have our supper. Some of us chose La Duchesse Anne, a small bistro with seating outside. This bistro like many French cafe, bars and restaurants offers a good value "Plat de jour" a dish of the day which is usually a three course meal. This evening I had a beer, a salad, a beef fillet steak main course and apple tart (tarte aux pommes) 

After supper we returned to the bus and we started talking with a group from Poland who were travelling through France by a modern coach.
Blois is a pretty town, but our hotel like most is "out of town" and is a hotel attached the BRIT Group and these hotels I found were among the best we stayed in as the rooms had quality air-conditioning and free WiFi.

1 comment:

  1. Ive always felt ive maximised my visits to countries by self driving around and finding the little back roads that go through villages and seeing the locals that way - various guide books are good for that too - getting to the gems and off the usual public transportation routes that other travellers do have made my years around Europe wonderful and worth every cent or p or franc...your trip around in the Routemaster with the gang sounds great!