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.
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.
We did get out for one good walk, however, among the several large ponds (here called étangs) in the surrounding forest.
And nothing could stop us from enjoying each other’s company, as well as two delicious home-cooked meals.
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.
The interior is an odd mix of period furnishing and art, with the oddest room of all being the hall of trophies.
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.
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.
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.
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!