On to Versailles....well almost

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September 11th 2013
Published: September 17th 2013
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Time is running out for us with a car and we have compacted down as best we can for the departure from our French country cottage.It has been a lovely stay here and very quiet and peaceful when we have been home.

So with all the food items that are half finished and need to stay refrigerated jettisoned we departed and headed north towards our last overnight stay at Versailles before we reach Paris itself.But before we get there we plan a short stop in Orleans which should coincide with lunch time.

The D922 was the most direct road to Orleans and there were many straight stretches between the forested areas and small villages on the road.However like the rest of this part of France there is more farmland and a sparse population compared to the coastal areas.

At one point on the road as we entered a heavily forested area that the road ran through there was a large road sign alerting us to animals.However,this one wasn't like many others with a deer on it as it had three different animals to beware of prancing or wandering across the road.So we sat up and were on the watch for boars,deer and stags although we didn't see any by the time we got to the more populated Orleans.

It is at Orleans that the Loire River flows down onto the plains from the higher land of the Massif Central and the river has a large influence on the city.

We found a car park easily and headed off to find the Orleans Cathedral which has a number of stained glass windows dedicated to the life of Joan of Arc who had a strong association with the city where she is accredited as breaking the siege of the city in 1429.The dozen stained glass windows that depicted her life were vivid and told her life in story as you went from one window to another including her burning at the stake which ended her life in Rouen in 1431 for heresay.

The gothic style cathedral which was started in 1278 and added to over the next 500 years is very large and dominates the higher ground above the Loire River.Inside we found in one wing a memorial to soldiers from the Commonweath including of course New Zealand for their involvement in defending France in WW1.

Running up to the cathedral is a wide avenue which had large flags fluttering in the breeze giving a colourful feel to what was a rather grey day.

The city has been going through a modernisation phase and have upgraded a couple of prominent squares including the one around the cathedral.There are also a new light rail system which is ever so quiet meaning you have to be alert when crossing the road.

We had planned to have lunch down on the river but as we did the circuit away from the cathedral we came across a takeaway lunch bar and decided to have lunch at some tables on the footpath adjacent to the store.Fresh baguettes with generous fillings were just too good to resist.It was just as well we did stop there as we didn't find any cafes or lunch bars near the river,at least where we walked along it on the way back to the car.

Just near the lunch bar was a prominent statue of Joan of Arc sitting proudly on her stepping stead,sword in hand.The only problem the square that she is in the middle of was being upgraded and there were fences all over the place and in all the best places to get a clear picture of her.

Back in the car we joined the A10 towards Paris although our destination for tonight is Magny-les-Hameaux so that we have just a short drive to have a look around Versailles tomorrow before we go onto Orly Airport in Paris to hand the car back.As we left the A10 onto the N10 which was just one lane in each direction as opposed to the two lane in each direction main highway the road was chocker full of trucks.In fact as we counted the ratio we scored more trucks than cars and we were thankful that the majority were opposing us rather than chugging along in front of us.We must say that by and large the traffic as a whole has been very well behaved and we have seen very few dangerous actions taken by other drivers and more importantly trucks kept their speed to the allowable limits.

We have a plan to take the car back with just the bare minimum diesel in it(well that is how we picked it up and had to fill it before we got far from Rome airport)and we thought we were going to make it to Orly without putting any more diesel in the tank.

However,we had some trouble finding the hotel in Magny as we did not have an exact address just a road number,the D175 which ran through the town.Afetr going up and down and through the town a couple of times the warning light came on and we were forced to find somewhere to put some diesel into the tank.Worse was to come though as the automated gas station at the supermarket wouldn't take the travel card and there was no one in the booth to take a cash transaction.The nearest gas station was 8km away and so we drove there with the light staying on until we put enough in the tank to get us to Versailles and onto Orly tomorrow.

We finally found the apartment on the D175 about 3km out of the town and it was one in a block of 4 buildings with over 100 apartments.The buildings were new and by the time night fell the car park was quite full of cars and therefore guests.It looked like a lot of the guests were trades people who perhaps were on some sort of work contracts in the area because we couldn't see why anyone would build a complex like this just for travellers when there was nothing else much around it.Still it was new and clean and would suit us just nicely before we headed into Paris tomorrow.


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