Saturday, June 03, 2006

Saturday (Amboise to Paris)...

Awoke to an honest-to-goodness sunny day. Checked out, packed the Citroen, and headed out of Amboise. Drove down the Loire River to the first of two chateaux--Villandry. The Renaissance-style chateau was built around 1535. The true highlights of this stop are the stunning terraced gardens, including a tranquil water garden with large pools and fountains, ornamental knot gardens of boxwood borders with flowering interiors, and the expansive 'kitchen garden' that uses flowers and herbs and vegetables to create colorful, intricate patterns. There are two plantings and harvests each the colors change with the seasons. Leaving Villandry was hard. Next stop was sleepy Langeais. In spite of all the trappings of a fun stop, this one just disappointed. Just tired perhaps and ready for the train ride to Paris and our connection to Venice. Took one last leisurely drive down the Loire. Grabbed a quick bite to eat. Topped off the gas tank (a winding adventure on its own). Reuturned the car in St. Pierre-des-Corps and boarded the TGV for Paris. Voit 13, Place 62/63. Arrived in Paris at Gare Montparnasse. Took our old friend the Metro #6 line to Gare de Bercy, our departure train station for Venice. (There are seven train stations in Paris, which can be a bit confusing.) boarded the Artesia de Nuit overnight train to Venice. Treated ouselves to a private sleeping coach. Coach 92, compartment 21/25. Sat reading and writing in peace and quiet with the sun setting and the French countryside out the window. Saw broad rivers and quiet riverside towns; trainyards and factories and trees catching the setting sun; weekend campers with their campfires; small private vegetable gardens and expansive tree-boardered fields; distant churches on hilltops: the huge orange sun on the horizon; sheep. At 9:45, the coachman came and turned down our beds. Two bunks in a private room...this is sweet. The sun set shortly after 10 signaling the time to head for the dining car. Dinner was served near the town of Dijon. Pasta with tomato and basil...pork cutlets with baby potatoes...some sort of tort...fresh fruit...and chianti (of course). Finishing this entry as the sway of the train lulls us to sleep.

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