Monday, January 13, 2014

Meanwhile, in France...

Pages from Jan's Travel Journal: Sunday, April 27, 2013

Just another beautiful day in France! Craig and I awoke to some very welcome sunlight streaming through the shades. It was so pleasant to be able to brew a pot of coffee in our little kitchen and enjoy the strong, fragrant beverage while listening to some soft music. 

This tiny kitchen was very well-equipped.

This was our view outside Halles Chatelet 
as we enjoyed our eclairs.

We made our way across the river to Halles Chatelet, where we purchased a couple of delightful caramel eclairs and then sat outside in the sun while we enjoyed them. Mathieu and Darcy came into view not long after we had finished. We all had plans to meet some friends of theirs for a picnic, but due to an illness, the plans had to be changed. The four of us decided to visit Parc Floral, the botanical gardens in Orléans. We rode the tram out to Parc Floral de la Source. Darcy had packed a picnic lunch, and we were going to eat right away, but some clouds had moved in and it began to sprinkle. We instead visited the Butterfly House. 

It was lovely and warm inside the butterfly house. There were many beautiful and unusual butterflies fluttering about. The plants in there were lush and gorgeous. Mathieu pointed out some interesting species of butterflies, and showed us some of the features of the place. He had worked there for a while and knew the ropes. When at last we emerged into the park again, the rain had stopped. We located a picnic table near a tiny chapel on the grounds and unpacked the lunch Darcy had prepared. The ham and cheese sandwiches on crusty baguettes were delicious, as was the rich, hot chocolate. We were intrigued by the chips - goat cheese bugles, roast chicken and thyme, and Bolognese! 

A beautiful resident of the Butterfly House at Parc Floral.

After lunch, we began to explore the park. It was absolutely wonderful, and I can't even begin to properly describe it! Even though it was a bit early in the season for the blooming plants, there was so much to see. Trees trimmed into fanciful shapes dotted the landscape, along with naturally growing species of every kind. There were several sculptures, a cute train to ride on, and even a charming watermill on a stream. Everywhere you turn, you will discover something unique and beautiful.

So picturesque!

There is even a little zoo, and a charming playground for the children. The place is enormous, and we did so much walking - but it was worth it. We especially enjoyed La Source, the mysterious spring that is indeed the source of the Loiret. It is a very large spring, though it flows quietly in its secluded grove. We explored Parc Floral for hours. It is such a delightful place. I highly recommend it if you are ever in the area.

La Source, the beautiful spring in Parc Floral.

That evening, we visited Aurelie and Tonio, friends of Darcy and Mathieu who live in a beautiful stone house that is at least 350 years old! I loved the beamed ceilings and the warm stone walls. Aurelie and Tonio are a charming couple who both speak a bit of English. We enjoyed the apero that was prepared for us, and nibbled on several different types of cheese along with olives, sausage,  pâte, duck mousse (a favorite of mine), crusty bread, and tiny pickles. There was a selection of beer and wine as well. We enjoyed the meal, talking and laughing. Later, we played a noisy game of Pit, which was fun. I was glad the building had such thick stone walls so we would not be disturbing anyone! 

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