Wednesday 18th July
Tours to Blois: 3 hours 42 minutes, 72km
“I met Nate at the main square the next morning. Wearing a typically French horizontally striped shirt, he was sitting at one of the tables in the centre of the square and waved to me, signalling his position. We had a quick espresso from a nearby café before heading to the market. At the market, he bought a bunch of fresh produce from various vendors and seemed to know each one personally, having a catch-up chat with each of them. The egg man indeed had a very egg like head. I couldn’t help but crack a smile when Nate turned to me and gave me a wink while the blissfully-unaware egg man packed a dozen. We spent some time going from charceturie to patisserie to boulangerie as we bought ingredients for breakfast. All the while, Nate would point out different places and give a little history about each.
Getting back to Laura’s flat, Nate like many French takes pride in his cooking and made a delicious continental slash English breakfast. Laura’s friends from the night before arrived as they were all going out to the river bank to enjoy the good weather, which apparently still seems to be following me from the UK. I bid them all farewell as I had to be in Blois by the end of the day, where I would be staying with another couch surfing host. Before leaving Tours I stopped by the cathedral, which I must say is staggering! So high, so many intricate stone carvings, and amazingly vibrant stained glass windows. The organ was blaring as I stepped into the cavernous naive and left me in awe of its sheer size. Next door to the cathedral is the Musee de Beaux Art, which houses a stuffed elephant called Fritz and a Cedar tree planted by Napolean himself. It was the afternoon by the time I left Tours, which meant I did not have much time to spend in the town of Amboise (halfway between Tours and Blois), famous for being the home of Leonardo Da Vinci when he died.
I arrived at Eva and Charly’s house for my second night of couch surfing in France. Charly does not speak that much English but Eva who works at a tourist office can understand and speaks fairly well. Eva’s cousin and niece (who don’t speak any English) were also staying there as they were helping Eva and Charly prepare for Charly’s father’s 60th birthday on Saturday. I found myself speaking a lot of broken French using words from school I thought I had forgotten and some key phrases I had picked up the night before. Charly would speak broken English and French to me and I’m quite proud of the fact that I could normally understand as well as make myself understood even without help from Eva. It was a great experience and I think my French improved a lot.
I was treated to a tremendous meal and a drink called Calvados, that burns your throat and warms your body. After that we went for a walk in the forest that surrounds their house with their two wonderful dogs.
Finally, I feel like I’m experiencing France for what it is. The 2 minute conversations that one has with passing cyclists and lone camping leaves one unfulfilled. While it is great to experience nature in the country side and see the quaint towns filled with amazing chateaus and history, it’s once again the genuine interaction with the people that I enjoy the most.”