Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday morning Zhizhong and I met at Lisa’s place and we rented a car for a weekend visit to her family’s estate, L’Ejumeau, in the Sologne. It was the first time I’ve had to include a child seat with a rental car, for Lisa’s 8-month old daughter, Aya.

Lisa and Aya, on our road trip to L'Ejumeau.

Lisa and Aya, on our road trip to L’Ejumeau.

L’Ejumeau is about 2-1/2 hours from Paris, but we stopped for lunch both ways so the drive was even easier than usual. Intermittent rain slowed us up a bit, as did some traffic on Sunday getting back into Paris, but overall this was one of the least stressful road trips I’ve done here. Apart from a few cowboys — and completely crazy motorcyclists — French drivers are relatively law-abiding. And my Garmin GPS helpfully alerts one to each of the frequent speed cameras.

The weather wasn’t too conducive to outdoor photography — or for jumping in the pool! — but a couple of photos from prior years will give you an idea of what a wonderful place L’Ejumeau is.

L'Ejumeau, a farmhouse that sleeps 13 people on a 100-acre estate in the Solange.

L’Ejumeau, a farmhouse that sleeps 13 people on a 100-acre estate in the Sologne.

Jeff Bob and Rosé

Jeff, Bob and Rosé in the pool at L’Ejumeau, in 2011.

We did get out for one good walk, however, among the several large ponds (here called étangs) in the surrounding forest.

Zhizhong, Lisa and Aya, at l'étang Robert.

Zhizhong, Lisa and Aya, at l’étang Robert.

And nothing could stop us from enjoying each other’s company, as well as two delicious home-cooked meals.

"Uncle Bob" enjoying some quality time with Aya.

“Uncle Bob” enjoying some quality time with Aya.

Zhizhong and LIsa on our first night at L'Ejumeau, 2014.

Zhizhong and Lisa at dinner on our first night at L’Ejumeau, 2014.

There’s a unique opportunity to house-sit L’Ejumeau for part or all of July in case any of my responsible friends is attracted by a rural retreat — to write a book, perhaps? A complete lack of distractions, apart from satellite Internet, can be assured. You would be responsible for utilities but would otherwise enjoy the place rent free!

On Saturday we made an excursion to the Château de Chambord, the largest of the Loire valley châteaux. It’s a dramatic pile, begun by François I but not completed until the 19th century.

Le château de Chambord, the largest of the Loire valley châteaux.

Le château de Chambord, the largest of the Loire valley châteaux.

Zhizhong and Lisa at le château de Chambord.

Zhizhong and Lisa at le château de Chambord.

The interior is an odd mix of period furnishing and art, with the oddest room of all being the hall of trophies.

Bob in the hall of trophies, at le château de Chambord.

Bob in the hall of trophies, at le château de Chambord.

Saturday lunch was at the Restaurant du Grand Saint Michel in Chambord, which we all really liked. Lisa called on baby-privilege to get us served promptly, and the meal proved to be delicious.

Bob's entrée at the Restaurant du Grand Saint Michel in Chambord.

Bob’s entrée (appetizer) at the Restaurant du Grand Saint Michel in Chambord.

Zhizhong with his dessert at the Restaurant du Grand Saint Michel at Chambord, seemingly oblivious of the menacing sanglier looming behind him!

Zhizhong with his dessert at the Restaurant du Grand Saint Michel at Chambord, seemingly oblivious of the menacing sanglier looming behind him!

On Sunday we stopped at Orléans for lunch, then strolled over to La cathédrale Sainte-Croix, like Chambord built over many centuries, originally Gothic but finished in a Renaissance style.

La cathédrale Sainte-Croix in Orléans is particularly dramatic in contrast to the four-story buildings which predominate in the rest of the old city.

La cathédrale Sainte-Croix in Orléans is particularly dramatic in contrast to the four-story buildings which predominate in the rest of the old city.

The facade and towers of la cathédrale Sainte-Croix in Orléans were not finished until the 18th century, and they add Renaissance confectionery to the Gothic building.

The facade and towers of la cathédrale Sainte-Croix in Orléans were not finished until the 18th century, and they add Renaissance confectionery to the Gothic building.

Joan of Arc getting rather dramatically burned at the stake in a late-19th century stained glass window of La cathédrale Sainte-Croix in (Old) Orléans.

Joan of Arc getting rather dramatically burned at the stake in a late-19th century stained glass window of La cathédrale Sainte-Croix in (Old) Orléans.

Zhizhong was especially charmed by how peaceful Orléans was on a Sunday. Taken though he is by Paris, he’s also drawn to the calmer life of the French provinces.

While the driving was remarkably low-stress, Avis had a little zinger in store for me. When I dropped off the car the agent claimed that a tiny ding in the driver’s-side door was my responsibility.

Spot the tiny ding that Avis is charging me $450 for. Hint -- just above the arrow. Would you notice this when looking over a rental car for damage?

Spot the tiny ding that Avis is charging me $450 for. Hint — just above the arrow. Would you notice this when looking over a rental car for preexisting damage?

I had carefully inspected the car when I rented it, but the ding was so minor that it could have been there without my noticing. I wasn’t aware of hitting anything with the door, though a car parked next to us could have made the dent in any of several lots and garages. Hopefully this year I have met the stringent requirements to get reimbursed from Master Card. Another time I will take pictures of the car when I rent it!