Thursday, May 8, 2014

Of Pastries and Kings

Pages from Jan's Travel Journal:  April 12, 2014

I awakened early on my first full day in Orléans. I had slept deeply and felt refreshed. I had dozed a bit on the flight over, and had high hopes of avoiding the bleary-eyed fogginess I usually experience. We all had coffee together before going out. Darcy and Mathieu had bought a cute set of dishes for me to use. They were in deep pastel colors with flowers and owls on them. I enjoyed drinking my coffee from the cheerful mug. 

Once we were dressed and ready to greet the day, we walked over to Halles Chatelet where we purchased pastries from the little bakery there. We carried our treats to a cafe and ordered coffee to go with them. The raspberry macaron that Darcy recommended to me was perfection! It was filled with a lightly sweetened, thick cream of some sort. We couldn't figure out exactly what it was. It tasted like a mixture of butter and cream and it was so firm that it cut like butter. The outside edge was studded with large, sweet raspberries. 

Bliss in a raspberry macaron.

Walking through Orléans after breakfast, we did a little window shopping. There are many unique shops there, and as in most French towns, quite a few of the shops specialize in one product. We passed a shop which sells nothing but local honey and honey-related items. The window was charmingly decorated with an enticing array of delights. And the shoe stores! I know I have mentioned them before, but I never cease to be amazed at the number of shoe shops and the variety of footwear they offer. In the U.S. it seems as if every store carries identical merchandise, but these stores have such a bounty of styles and colors! 

We walked on in the spring sunshine, simply taking delight in being outdoors on such a lovely day. We wandered over toward the hôtel Groslot, which has a beautiful garden in the back. The tulips were especially pretty. Hôtel Groslot is a 15th century mansion which was once used as a town hall and now serves as a lovely place for weddings and civic events. King Francois II died there at the tender age of 16. His royal surgeon had recommended a trepanation to relieve pressure on the brain. This idea was vetoed by the bishop, who stated that no one should ever see into the mind of a king. Or so the story goes. Anyway, the hôtel Groslot is well worth a visit.

 A back view of the hôtel Groslot in Orleans, France.

Such lovely gardens!

That evening, we had dinner at the home of Dom and Melanie, some friends of Darcy and Mathieu. They live in a charming house just outside the city. Their two adorable children entertained us as we enjoyed drinks and appetizers before sitting down to a delicious meal. The evening passed swiftly, filled with laughter and conversation. 

TRAVEL TIP: Before leaving home, make copies of your passport, drivers license, and credit cards. Carry the copies with you in your luggage or another place separate from the original documents. If your wallet or purse is stolen or lost, you will need the copied items.

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