Paris to City of Tours
Our first day with Viking began Wednesday early in Paris after our overnight flight on Air France.. The highlight of the first day was getting to see our friends Chantal and Michel for dinner out. They are just now boarding a Princess Cruise.
The hotel in Paris was Le Meridien Hotel near the Arch de Triumph. Next day Thursday started at 5:30 am with a wonderful breakfast provided by Viking River Cruises. If you left hungry it was your fault. While we were enjoying that, Viking was worked behind the scenes picking up our bags for transfer to the bus. Service from Viking has been 1st class so far. We gathered with 14 other couples for a 3-day tour of the Loire Valley, visiting Chateaus and Cathedrals and then onto the River Cruise from Bordeaux next Saturday.
The route out of Paris took us along the Seine River and on to Auto-Route A10 to the city of Orleans. We said auvoir to Paris for now. We were under God’s protection because the terrorist attack happened 12 hours after our departure at a location where we had been just the previous evening. Our prayers go out to all the police families affected.
The weather was a chilly 40 degrees and the sky was clear blue. Our first new friends with Bill and Jordy from League City, Texas, both Christians and active in missions.
So we settled back and left the driving to Viking, arriving at Orleans along the Loire River about 10:45. Our guide Vincent described the Loire as France’s wild and beautiful river. The bus let us off near the old part of Orleans, the adopted home of Joan of Arc. Vincent began a detailed history of Orleans and Joan of Arc as well as a lot about the history of France. Everyone was issued a small receiver with ear piece so we could hear him. He (and I) are very impressed with Mary Alice’s French. It’s clear all that money I’m spending on her lessons is paying off!
The tour of Orleans included the Cathedral of Saint Croix (of the Holy Cross). The church is a prime example of Gothic architecture meaning it has huge spire and high walls and arched buttresses holding it all together. It began as a Chapel in the 8th Century. Side chapels were added in the 14th Century. Joan of Arc came to pray shortly before she was killed in 1429. During the wars of religion (Hundred Years War) the church was damaged by the Huguenots. It was rebuilt under Henry IV and Louis XIII. MA remarked that the chairs in the cathedral were so uncomfortable that no one would fall asleep during the sermon.
The cathedral is currently undergoing a restoration of its exterior.
We got back on the bus and headed to our first chateau, Chambord, pictured above. Our tour lasted between 3-5pm and all I can tell you is it’s a huge place, a true castle surrounded by a moat with adjacent hunting grounds, which are definitely not a wildlife preserve.
We headed toward the town of Tours where we are staying for two nights. Our hotel is the Chateau Belmont, a real chateau with an iron gate and beautiful grounds. The hotel staff was ready for our arrival and every couple was issued a preassigned room. Dinner was again with compliments from Viking. Mary Alice and I were so tired that when we were finished we quickly called it a night, not even turning on the TV!!