Saturday, 30 June 2007

Chambord, Chartres and Versailles

This post covers our trip north towards Paris through the wheat fields of France.

On Saturday morning we left our campsite at Cheverny, the staff were very friendly and gave us a discount coupon for the chateau of Chambord, but warned us there was a big event taking place this weekend so it would be packed. We set off driving though many pretty villages en-route, including one which had a chocolaterie with free tasting. How could we refuse?

We walked into a large showroom where chocolate had been moulded into all types of shapes – animals, formula one cars, make up kits, asparagus (just why you would want a chocolate flavoured asparagus is beyond us! No comments please!). We even had a peek at the chocolate workers in action, although one didn’t like us and kept glaring at Sarah!

We tried quite a few chocolate buttons, most were from Cuba, Ecuador and other Latin American countries and varied in the amount of cocoa they contained from 60 to 85%. After a few drops we started to feel sick! I toddled off and Sarah bought something for my birthday, I wonder what it could be?
Top: Chambord
Above and below: Chartres Cathedral

We headed on to Chambord but wished we hadn’t! Thousands of cars were there for some hunting festival that weekend. There were about 12 gendarmes spread out on the estate directing traffic. One gendarme sent us 3 kilometres down the road to a car park only for another gendarme to tell us it was too muddy for Ace and that we were too far away from the castle. At this time, another motorhome was being pulled out of the mud by the gendarmes 4 wheel drive! After our adventures in the mud in February we were keen to avoid a repeat!

We decided to give up and drove on to Chartres, staying at a campsite on the banks of the Eure River. We were entertained until 2am by some French hillbilly music festival about a kilometre away! Arghhhh!!!

The next day we drove into Chartres, surely the most un-motorhome friendly town in France so far. Every car park was for cars only with 2 metre height barriers. We were about to give up when I spotted a car park at the conseil general, the local authority. I asked if we could park there and they said yes, there was some kind of expo on there that day.

We walked into town and spent half an hour marvelling at Chartres Cathedral and its stained glass windows. During this time an organist was playing very dramatic sounding music which seemed quite appropriate for this grand building. Our guide book said it was one of the crowning architectural achievements of western civilisation and we tend to agree!

We headed up through the wheat fields of France towards Versailles, just west of Paris. We’d read that we could stay at a campsite in Versailles, when we got there, the streets surrounding the campsite were packed! Along with cars for nearby Versailles Palace and Park, there was an open day at a nearby French army regiment. We found the manager, a friendly guy who told us where to park, gave us a tour of the campsite and maps of Versailles. There was only one tent there at the time so we had our pick of pitches!
Top: View of the orangerie from the cent pas, Versailles
Left: Versailles
Below: Off with her head! Trudy-Antoinette at Versailles

We headed off into the park surrounding Versailles Palace, admiring the fountains and palace from the outside. We were going to buy a ticket for the palace but there was only half an hour left to see it so we gave it a miss. We were going to go the next day but it’s closed on Mondays. Maybe next time we’re in Paris?

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