The morning was spent exploring Blois. I visited the cathedral and a really mediocre organist was practicing. One can only hope he/she was sight-reading. The cathedral is 17th century gothic – OK but not on my top 10 list as cathedrals go. Its gardens are small and charming--I really enjoyed cooling my feet in the stair-step fountain. (It was already 90 degrees at 11am.)
I enjoyed a simple lunch at an outdoor café at the foot of the steps leading to the chateau. My lunch was accompanied by two wedges of the most perfect cantaloupe melon I’ve ever tasted. Ripe, full-flavored, juicy, simply heavenly.
Getting on the train to Tours was somewhat of an adventure. There were 6 of us bikers waiting on the platform, all fully packed. The train conductor came up to us and told us that there may not be a train compartment on the incoming train and that we weren’t to block the aisles with our bikes. Naturally we were all a slight panicked and a bit irritated by this. Then the train rolled in complete with bike compartment, much to our relief, but when the train stopped the bike compartment was at completely at the other end of the platform from us. So we all took off, trying to run with the bikes with our panniers in our hands (we’d already taken them off to prepare for mounting the train). Now keep in mind that it was close to 100 degrees. I was feeling a bit wilted. Thanks to biker teamwork we all made it onto the train (it was one where you had to really lift the bike up steep steps through narrow doors). On the positive side, the train was air-conditioned, so the hour’s ride to Tours was quite comfortable.
The afternoon was spent settling into the hotel (air-conditioned, yippee!) and wandering around Tours. As opposed to Blois, the cathedral in Tours is definitely on my top 10 list. First the very cool fat, round spires and lots of slender flying buttresses on the outside, and then on the inside, stained glass windows and architectural accents from many centuries making it seem like a living being and not a dead space.
After the cathedral I made my way to the center of town and enjoyed sipping a beer in one of the touristy cafes on Place Plumereau. It was quite cute there, but when the sun went behind a cloud and the breeze stopped the little square was like and oven. Yikes!
After a tasty dinner at Restaurant Leonardo da Vinci, where I had a table facing towards Place Plumereau, I made my way back to the hotel and had an early night. The heat and activity are starting to take its toll.