Saturday, July 9, 2016

Blossoms and Butterflies

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: Monday, May 16, 2016

A Monday holiday is such a treat! Darcy and Mathieu were both off work that day. We awoke to a beautiful, sunny day and decided that a picnic at Parc Floral would be a great way to enjoy that extra day off. After coffee and a delightful lemon tart, we packed a lunch and were soon on our way to one of my favorite places in Orléans. 

It was the perfect time of year for a walk through the lovely botanical garden. We walked slowly, admiring the gorgeous blossoms, lush ferns, and flowering trees. We were serenaded with cheerful birdsong as we strolled the grounds. It was almost as if we had the place to ourselves. Parc Floral is quite large and even on busy days there are many times when no other people are in sight.

Beautiful flowers at Parc Floral in Orleans, France.
We saw many varieties of trees, some of which were the weeping type, whose branches form private, shaded bowers and little nooks where it would be pleasant to spread a blanket and read. The iris garden was beautiful, though it would be another week or so before the flowers would all be in full bloom. I was already planning to return with Craig after he arrived in France.

Mathieu and Darcy beside one of the weeping trees.

More gorgeous iris at Parc Floral.
We visited the butterfly house and walked slowly through it, hoping to catch a glimpse of some of the rarest and most flamboyant butterflies in residence. There was one large one with exquisite iridescent blue wings trimmed in black. I tried to photograph it, but it simply wouldn't hold still!

A butterfly luncheon party.
We found a shaded bench surrounded by climbing roses and sat down to enjoy our lunch. We had a pretty view of the pond, and behind it was the lovely stone chateau that, until recently, housed the administrative offices of the University. There were flowers everywhere, and a chorus of frogs calling from the banks of the pond. I ate a sandwich of ham, butter, pickles, and cassis-flavored mustard on a crusty baguette. Everything tastes so much better when eaten in such beautiful surroundings. We finished off with juicy nectarines before gathering up our things and heading toward the miniature golf course.

This was our lovely view during lunch.
The mini golf course is such fun, with some challenging holes that had us laughing as one or the other of us tried repeatedly to sink a shot! As we walked the course or paused to make a putt, we were often showered with tiny pink flowers that rained down on us from the trees above. In some places, the ground itself resembled a pink carpet.

Darcy attempts the maze at mini-golf.
When we left the park and drove home, the weather was still so beautiful that we were reluctant to be indoors. We walked over to a bar across the Loire and found a vacant table outside. I sipped a sweet cherry beer while enjoying the view. After that relaxing interval, the three of went home to begin preparations for the evening meal.

We started our meal with tasty onion blossoms and fries, which we dipped into a wonderful sauce Darcy whipped up. Then, I helped prepare Brazilian beans and rice. It was made in a rice cooker and was a delicious combination of smoked sausage, chick peas, rice, chicken broth, bay leaf, and lots of garlic. Ice cream rounded off the meal. It was a fabulous day!

Another glimpse of Parc Floral

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