Hmm. The weather has taken a turn, and not for the better. After some heaving rain during the night it’s still drizzling on this Sunday morning. It’s not even warm enough to sit out under the canopy - comfortably anyway. Hence - time for a blog!
Right, after a lazy day on Wednesday, sightseeing duties resumed on Thursday. Mike and Cath at the site had put together a comprehensive list of things to see and do in the area and there were plenty of leaflets in the information room too. Which was just as well. The whole area doesn't even warrant a mention in the Rough Guide. Whilst we rarely use it for planning visits, it’s been handy to refer back to when doing the blog. Or not, in this case. Oh well.
We aimed first, south and east for the Lakes, of which there are over two or three thousand, depending on which leaflet you read, and all man made - originally for fish farming mostly. Etang (lake) de Bellabouche is one of the larger ones and promised lakeside walks, picnic areas, kayaks and restaurants. On arrival we also discovered a rare being manning the entrance - a parking attendant! I handed over five Euros and received by return some change, a ticket for the windscreen and a mock passport style book. The young lady launched in to some rapid spiel, no doubt explaining said book. I apologised (in French), said I didn’t understand (in French) and asked if she spoke English (in French as well. Get me!) NON! was the abrupt reply and we were summarily despatched with a wave of the hand. I bid her good tidings (in English) and we headed off to park.
Well, it was all very agreeable. There was a beach and a large shaded wooded area with picnic tables and some climbing frames and stuff for the kids. A couple were playing Smite - the game we got introduced too at Twittercamp this year - and one or two were already braving the waters, although again it didn’t look particularly clean. Kayaks and Pedalo’s were available for hire. Observant regulars will note that this all sounds familiar to the set up at St Estephe down in the Dordogne that we visited in Part 8. The difference being that there it was all ‘free’. Maybe that was why, in what is surely the height of the summer season, it was pretty quiet?
We hung around for an hour or so then headed off with no particular plan in mind other than to explore more of the area. A brown tourist sign indicated a route that was to take us off the main roads and on to what was more of a bridleway, but gave some great close up views of more lakes, and in the hour or so that we were on it we only came across one horse and a couple of cyclists.
Trev was driving, so in-between wielding the camera I was able to have a proper look at the mock passport style book we were given at the lake. It was actually a discount book with money off vouchers for many sights and attractions around the region. Could be useful.
Having emerged back on to tarmac and another very straight road, we happened upon Lake Gabriere. A restaurant sat overlooking the lake and a bunch of waiters and waitresses were waiting poised. Clearly our order of a couple of coffees was a bit of a disappointment but they hid it well. We were to learn later that it is a VERY popular place and impossible to get in to at weekends.
After a further drive around we arrived in Le Blanc, one of the largest towns in the Brenne Regional Park. We passed through here with the caravan on the way up and wanted to take another look. It was lunchtime, so most places were shut of course, and the only people wandering around were tourists. I.E. us. But we weren't here for shopping and it was a very clean, tidy and pleasant place to stroll around.
Lunch was taken and for only the second time this trip we succumbed and had a lager. It was ice cold and not too bad, but it wont be coming a habit I can assure you. The omelette though, the first one I’ve had anywhere for years - was delicious.
Having refuelled ourselves it was now Rosie’s turn for some sustenance, after calling at the supermarket for some more bits and bobs. She managed over 28mpg again on the way up and overall mileage is now over 1800 for the trip, although Patsy has been on the back for only 560 of them.
Friday once again saw us out and about, although staying much closer to home meant a later start. We went to have a look at the Chateau at Azay-le-Ferron just a few miles down the road. The look around inside was by way of guided tour only - nowt wrong with that, but thanks to the beady eyed tour guide it did mean that the ‘photography not permitted’ rule was strictly enforced. Whilst the DSLR stayed hanging around my shoulder I did manage to sneak a couple with the camera on my phone but they’re not great.
Outside of course, there was no such restriction. The circular bit is the oldest part with walls over two metres thick - thicker than I am er, long and built in the late 1500’s. The section to it’s right came next, in the 1600’s. The rest followed later with the section featuring the archways only appearing in the 1920’s.
Nestled in the main entrance to the Chateau was the local Tourist Information office. It was closed obviously - it WAS lunchtime but outside was a row of bikes available for hire with prices starting from just €1.50 an hour or €10.00 for a day. Very reasonable, and given how flat it is around here, a great place to cycle too.
After another lunch out - and ANOTHER lager - we returned to the site for another lazy afternoon, making the most of the sun.
Hopefully soon the videos will be embedded directly into the blog. Until then:
Some photo slide shows too: