On Every Corner

It would be an exaggeration to say that there’s a castle on every corner, but it is hard to ride for any length of time without passing a castle, or abbey, or some other great big building that dates back 600 or more years. Castles are the main tourist draw in this section of tChenaceauhe country. Camping along the river Cher two nights ago, we cooled off by a swimmming within 100 yards of Chateau Chenonceau, one of the few chateaus that span the river. Incredible. The next morning, along with another 600 people, Liz and I visited the castle and did a self guided tour. Yeah, it was that crowded, but that only speaks to the awesomeness of the castle itself and the region in general. A highlight for me was going down below to see the kitchens and worker’s quarters. This 250 km stretch of the Loire River has been named a World Heritage Site because of the number of ancient and outstanding structures.

We’ve been stopping regularly at a place that even more common than the ancient buildings around here-  boulangeries and patisseries- little bakeries. The boulangeries make bread, those wonderful tasty baguettes that Boulangeriethe French are renowned for, and patisseries are pastry shops, with tarts and eclairs and other sweet treats. They’re often combined into a single shop which makes it that much easier to indulge.

Pain au chocolat

A traditional French loaf is one of our staples. It serves as the basis for our lunch. Add a creamy goat cheese, some mackeral with mustard sauce or sardines, or a little sliced tomato and sliced smoked ham, and presto, lunch. For dessert there are tarts, custards, and other sweet and fruity things, and, Liz has developed a fondness for Pain au Chocolat.

Goat and Sheep cheese here has been a revelation. Amazing flavors and types. Soft and fresh like we’re used toseeing at home, semi-hardcheese, hard, ripe, or covered with a rich mouldy rind, camembert and brie, and occasionally we’ll stumble upon a nice artisanal maker- so much more than we’re used to. Spread it on a piece of bread or enjoyed with a slice of apple, it’s been a little bit of heaven. If we come back in clothes stretched way too tight across our bodies, you know the reason why.

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