Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Tour of Tours on Segway

Pages from Jan's Travel Journal: April 29, 2015

Poor Craig was on vacation but didn't get to sleep in! He was a very good sport about it, though. That day, we awoke at 7:00, drank our coffee, and then popped into our neighborhood bakery for eclairs and chouquettes to munch in the car on the way to Tours. In France, it is very rare for people to eat in cars. There are almost no drive-thru restaurants. Food is meant to be savored and enjoyed, which is difficult to do while navigating a busy highway.

Mathieu was driving, which was a change for us, as we usually take the train. The view from the road was a whole different perspective. Since the car sat much lower than a train, there wasn't much to see. The scenery consisted mostly of field after field of the bright yellow colza. At one point, it looked like a brilliant yellow river as it curved along between stands of trees. I was surprised at how expensive the toll road was. Twelve euros one-way seemed a bit pricey! But it was a good road that was obviously well maintained.

Mathieu parked at the Tours train station, which had a very large underground parking garage. I got out of the car and waited near the fountain while everyone else negotiated the car park. I have a phobia of parking garages which is so bad that I once jumped out of a moving vehicle in a Chicago parking garage!  


The train station in Tours. My photo from 2014.
Walking toward the center of town, we came upon the huge outdoor market which was in full swing. We walked through, enjoying each enormous section. The colorful flower market booths were very busy with shoppers buying flowers, herbs, and bedding plants. The scent was wonderful! We came upon the clothing market, where I could have browsed for an hour or two. There were scarves, shoes, belts, and purses, in addition to just about any article of attire you could want. We continued on through the food market, the book stalls, and at the end discovered a flea market. We stopped to look at some bookends that Darcy was interested in and she got a good price on them when we also purchased a wooden cat figurine. Craig and I had somehow fallen into the tradition of purchasing some sort of cat themed item on each trip to France. 


The outdoor market in Tours, France.

Lots of beautiful flowers!

As we continued on toward the heart of Tours, Craig was enjoying his first look at the town he had heard so much about after I had visited last year. I even showed him the place along the tram line where I had fallen and injured my foot. Place Plumereau was becoming crowded with tourists as lunchtime approached. It was a lovely, sunny day, though cool, and many tables were already surrounded by people drinking coffee and chatting. We realized that we were going to have to grab a quick lunch if we were going to be on time for our upcoming Segway tour. We found a tiny kebab shop on a side street and ordered sandwiches and fries. The sandwiches were huge! Darcy and I could have shared one, for neither of us was able to finish. Mathieu had an interesting soft drink with his meal. It was a mojito-flavored 7up. I had never seen that flavor before. I hope it will be offered in America, because I tasted it and it was very refreshing.


A lovely street in Tours, France.

City hall in Tours, France.


Myself, Darcy, and Mathieu
 at Place Plumereau, Tours.

Soon, we were on our way to meet our Segway tour guide, David. Craig and I were pleased to discover that he spoke English quite well. He was easygoing and fun. It didn't take David long to realize that we had been truthful when we told him that we were experienced Segway riders. In no time, we were on our way! David led us on a tour of Tours which lasted an hour and a half and was absolutely amazing. I never stopped smiling! We traveled first along the Loire, past the university, and came to a point of the pathway where the walkway was very "steepy", as David would say. He told us that this would be a good place to see how fast we could go on the Segway and to experience how the machine will push back at you if you have maxed out. It is a self-limiting feature. David told me to go first, so I took off, enjoying the speed and grinning from ear to ear. I was expecting everyone else to follow and when I reached the bottom of the long incline, I turned and discovered that I was alone. I waited a few moments, as the trail was curved and I couldn't see the whole length of it. Soon, along came two people on bicycles, but no one else. I became concerned that there had been an accident, so I headed back the way I had come. Before long, there were my companions. It seemed that I had misunderstood David and was only supposed to have gone a short way. David told everyone else to wait, saying that I would soon notice I was all alone. 


Our Segway tour guide, David,
helps Craig adjust his helmet.
A Segway tour along the Loire in France.

David then guided us through the city streets, along shopfronts and then on to a bike/pedestrian bridge which took us to a lovely tree-shaded park on an island in the Loire. All along the way, we were treated to beautiful views of the river and the town. At one point, David curved suddenly into a u-turn behind a hedge and said, "let's hide!" Mathieu and I were a bit slow to hide completely, but David popped out and yelled "boo!" at Darcy and Craig and then burst out laughing. He was just so adorable and fun that we had to laugh, too. We went on through the park, which was very pretty, and then David led us down a narrow alley. The old houses there seemed a bit run down, but the wisteria blooming everywhere gave the area a charming look.


 le Château de Tours

We crossed another bridge, which took us back toward the center of town. David led us through the busy market, where we received many stares, comments, and questions. Segway tours are new to the area, so we created quite a sensation. It was fun weaving in and out of the market and through the crowds to Place Plumereau. We felt like celebrities as everyone stared, pointed, and photographed us. We also went to the train station, which was very busy outside. A train had just arrived and there were passengers towing their luggage along the walks. At a crosswalk one man, whom I was trying carefully to avoid, looked me straight in the eye with an angry glare and then purposely moved over just enough to clip one of my wheels with his suitcase. It could have tipped my Segway, but Darcy, who was directly behind me, said he got the worst of it when my wheel flipped his suitcase over!

Our tour was nearly over, but David guided us past the the beautiful St. Gatien's cathedral, where we paused to take some photos. We then stopped to view the 200-year-old cedar of Lebanon (the cat was still there!) and stretch our legs for a bit. We then headed back to our starting point. We had such fun on that tour! We gave David a large tip, which he tried to refuse, but he really deserved it.  He was a great guide and aside from being fun, he was knowledgeable and gave us interesting information along the way. 


Saint Gatien's Cathedral in Tours, France.
A 200-year-old Cedar of Lebanon
 in Tours, France.
Mathieu and Darcy taking a break.
  
If you visit France, you must try a Segway tour, if at all possible. It is tremendous fun and very easy to learn! The company we used was Freemove, which offers tours in Amboise, Tours, and Blois.


Look, ma, no hands! The Segway tour was such fun.

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