Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Lovely Loches, a Medieval Village in France.

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: Saturday, May 21, 2016

It was great for all of us to be together again, and preparing to go out for an adventure. We started the day with coffee and freshly-squeezed orange juice and were soon on our way to Auchan, where we would pick up a helmet for Darcy. Helmets are necessary when riding Segway, which is exactly what we were planning to do that day! Darcy is of small stature, and based on past experience we knew the helmets provided by the Segway company would be too loose on her.

The mega market, Auchan, was bustling with customers. We stopped first at Paul for pastries and coffee, where I thoroughly enjoyed my Nutella beignets and a frothy cafe creme. Our shopping didn't take much time, and soon we were on the highway heading for the medieval town of Loches.The two-hour drive was beautiful, once we had exited the toll road and were on the smaller, local roads which ran through gorgeous farmland and tiny, picturesque villages.

Cafe creme and beignets at Paul.
Loches was crowded, as the Saturday market was just about to end. Shoppers were still exploring the various booths set up in the square. There were so many that they spilled into the narrow side streets which radiated off the main square. What an array of goods met our eyes! And how I wished we had time to linger and shop. There were plants and flowers, fruits and vegetables, clothing, ceramics, leather items, candles, jewelry, shoes, purses, sweets of all kinds - and so much more! 

Wandering the market streets in Loches, France.
We found a restaurant called la Farfallaoverlooking the square. We just had time for lunch before our Segway tour was to begin. Darcy and I shared a wonderful pasta dish made with pesto, Parmesan, and sun-dried tomatoes. It was fantastic! Craig chose a pasta dish which featured salmon, and Mathieu opted for a large salad that looked quite delicious. We passed around the breadbasket which was filled with tender, crusty, chewy slices of fresh baguette.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch at la Farfalla in Loches.
After that delightful repast, we began exploring a bit as we made our way to the area in which we were to meet our Segway guide. I can barely find words to describe how overwhelmingly beautiful the village of Loches is. Narrow cobblestone streets twist and turn, bordered by the charming old houses built of the golden tufa stone that is so popular in that area. Many homes had roses or other flowering plants climbing the limestone walls. Charm simply oozes from every molecule of that town! 

Loches, France is a beautiful, ancient village.

I'd love to spend a few days exploring!
We were soon outfitted with helmets and Segway machines. Our guide, Nik, led the way along narrow pathways, through a park, and across ancient streets as we headed for the top of the hill. We were gently showered with blossoms of pink, yellow, and mauve as we rolled along beneath flowering trees. It seemed like a fantasy. 

The ancient architecture of Loches.
A lovely view over Loches, France.
Nik was a good guide. He watched over us carefully and narrated our tour with information about the sights we were gazing at in wonder. He was patient when I wanted to stop at various spots along the way to take photos. He guided us to the top of the hill where the Donjon stands. It's a 1,000-year-old structure that was first a fortress and later a prison. The views from up there were magnificent!

1,000 years of history.

Hundreds of years ago,
 we would have been standing in the moat!

The Segway tour was a great way to see Loches.
We continued to roll along, passing many amazing sights. Loches simply took my breath away, with its troglodyte caves, architectural delights, sculptures, and more. At one point, we were actually able to enter a troglodyte cave on our machines, and we marveled at the work that had been done thousands of years ago to carve out the stone needed for the fortifications and homes of the village. There were several amazing, modern sculptures inside the cave that were a wonder in themselves. As we rode out of the cold, damp air of the cave, we were struck by the heat of the day. 

Another pretty sight in Loches.
After our tour ended, Darcy, Mathieu, Craig, and I found a sidewalk cafe where we could purchase cold drinks and ice cream. I never pass up an opportunity for French ice cream! I indulged in a yummy concoction of pear sorbet and dark chocolate ice cream, all topped with whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce. Darcy and Mathieu shared an unusual sundae of chocolate mint and lemon ice cream. Craig seemed happy with his cold drink.

We were refreshed and ready for more exploring, so we walked up the hill to tour the Donjon. We trudged up and down many staircases; some of which were spirals cut into the stone, and had deeply worn places on the treads, created by countless feet climbing up and down those endless steps. One thousand years of history. It was all worth it, though, to view the interesting displays and learn the stories of this little corner of France. 

Looking down at the courtyard.

An interesting display inside the Donjon.
Before heading back to Orléans, we had dinner at the creperie, Cote Tour, in Loches. We didn't have reservations and were lucky to get a table. I ordered a gallette made with ham, red onions, potato, and creme fraiche. Craig had one stuffed with ham, egg, and Reblochon cheese. Darcy chose a mushroom and ham gallette, and Mathieu enjoyed an interesting combination of goat cheese, apples, walnuts, and honey. 

The terrace of the creperie in Loches.
A satisfying French meal in Loches.
On the way home, we drove the scenic route. I saw many tidy little farms, with cattle grazing in nearby fields through which sparkling streams meandered. There were trails crisscrossing the meadows and forest, and we saw people on horseback, out for an evening ride. It was such a charming, peaceful area and I could have lingered there for days.


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