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Published: April 9th 2018
This past weekend we took some time to relax, and to catch-up with such mundane tasks as grocery shopping, laundry, and a much-needed session with my hair stylist (Dee), who has by now cut my hair in so many different places (around the world) that we've lost count! The weather continues to be mild during the day, still chilly in the evening, but the rain has stayed away.
We also made arrangements for a day trip, on Tuesday of next week, with a local tour operator to visit several of the châteaux for which the Loire Valley is so renowned. In another travel-related matter, we've decided to depart Tours a day earlier than planned, and to fly via Ryanair from Tours to London (our final stop), instead of from Nantes.
We did this to avoid the costly and time-consuming (2-1/2 hour) taxi ride we experienced when we arrived at the Nantes airport, even though we'll have to "eat" the Nantes-to-London tickets we purchased from easyJet months ago. However, on the bright side, this change means we'll rendezvous with Larry and Danielle Cobb, the friends with whom we're sharing a flat in London, a day earlier than originally planned.
Our closest street market
Sunday market near the Rabelais bus stop.
Late yesterday morning we ventured out, stopping first at the local street market that sets-up shop on Sunday mornings, near the Rabelais bus stop that we use. The market was still busy with locals buying vegetables, meats, oysters, bread, cheeses and flowers when we arrived. Dee loves these types of outdoor markets, and spent a couple euros as we strolled through the aisles, buying sweet potatoes, tomatoes and a lemon.
When we'd finished at the street market, we hopped aboard the #5 bus, which delivered us to the Place Jean Jaurès, the central square downtown. After a so-so lunch at one of the brasseries nearby, we walked along the rue Nationale, a normally busy shopping street where the stores, banks and offices are mostly closed on Sundays. We located the Monoprix department store, where Dee likes to shop when we're in France, but it too was closed.
At this point, we decided to walk toward Les Halles, site of a large covered market place in the historic section of Tours. When it opened in 1864, the metal pavilions were designed on the model of a famed counterpart, Les Halles de Paris (often referred to as the "Belly of
Paris"). For 150 years, Les Halles de Tours has been the gastronomic heart of this city, from old metal pavilions of yesteryear, to the modern halls in evidence today. Under one roof, 38 vendors offer daily fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, special breads and pastries, wines and delicatessen fare.
Unfortunately, Les Halles was closed by the time we arrived. But all was not lost, for we soon found ourselves smack dab in the middle of a carnival-like parade, with an assortment of people marching down the street, dressed in flamboyant costumes, while the eardrum-shattering sounds of drums and music filled the air. It was a pretty wild scene, with many onlookers taking it all in from the sidewalks as the groups wound their way along the designated route.
Some of the more scantily-clad female participants seemed to draw the most attention, although a few of them might have been better advised to display a little less skin. In any event, everyone appeared to be having a grand time, especially the children, so we stayed for about half an hour before heading for our bus home.
Today we returned to Les Halles, only to discover that very
Our meal at La Petite Pause des Halles
A potpourri of tofu, lentils, rice and sausage, falafel, vegetable soup and who knows what else.
few of the vendors open their doors on Mondays. Still, the few that were open offered an enticing array of goodies, and Dee bought some jellied candies from the chocolate and confectionery store, while I snapped a few photos of some other tempting displays of bread and pastries.
By this time we were ready for some lunch, so we canvassed the brasseries and restaurants lining the street outside the market, and finally decided on Le Petite Pause des Halles, a tiny place operated by a husband and wife team. Neither of us could fully decipher the French menu, so we were pretty much flying blind!
But as it turned out, we enjoyed a mostly vegetarian meal that consisted of a casserole, with rice, sausage slices, leeks, onions, kidney beans and something that tasted like potatoes; a small cup of vegetable soup (tasted like pumpkin to us); a cheesy-tasting, quiche-like patty; falafel with a spicy tomato sauce; and some mixed greens. For dessert, we ordered a warm apple tart, and some chocolate mousse sprinkled with slivered almonds. All in all, we enjoyed the meal very much, and it was an interesting experience trying to identify the different flavors and
After lunch we returned to the main shopping street, the rue Nationale, where we did some shopping in the Monoprix store before taking the bus home. Tomorrow we have a full-day tour to visit several of the French châteaux for which the Loire Valley is so famous.
Dee's comments: I spent some time the past few days reflecting upon our journey so far: 7 plane rides, 5 different beds, 5 kitchens; plus many steps, and many miles, with numerous bus and tram rides; and let's not forget the great people, the cafes, bistros, churches, museums, "rock joints", etc. Sometimes it's been challenging, but we've survived. For my part, as the Chef du Jours, each kitchen with its different appliances has posed a challenge, and after solving each problem, it's time to move on to the next kitchen!
I'd say for the past 8 weeks I've held up pretty well, even though the walking in the airports seemed like miles and miles, just to pick-up luggage. My crazy toe gave out before we left Vienna, so I'm wearing my "boot" for the rest of the trip. Oh, LOL, when we went through security departing Vienna, the security
Un verre vin rouge
@ La Petite Pause des Halles
lady looked at my "boot" and asked, "What's that?" I replied, "My foot shoe". She responded, with a puzzled expression on her face, "Your what
?" She finally waived me through, probably thinking I was nuts. Every time I think of this incident I break out laughing!
I've also realized that I'm now an "International Hairdresser", on account of all the haircuts I've given Mitch in Sicily, Vienna, and now Tours!
Yesterday I slept until 8 AM, which is late for me, and then I made a Sunday breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon and toasted baguettes. We went out for a short while, and had lunch in a touristy place that was nothing special. But we did do some walking, and stumbled into a parade that was quite amusing, to say the least! Then a bus ride back to the villa for Happy Hour.
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