Saturday 8 August
It was good to have a “non-travelling” day today just wandering around the very old and quiet city of Blois and sorting out some railway and car hire drop off details we needed to attend to. Once we found the weekly Saturday market it was not quiet but full on activity with a close harmony group in full swing singing ancient French folk songs and hymns. The range of fresh fruit, vegetables and meat was stunning in its variety and the local cheeses were extraordinary in their variety, size and different flavours. The market ran from street to street in the lower retail part of town selling art, bits and pieces and food, food and more food.
There are many ancient half-timbered “Alsatian” houses in Blois mixed up with more modern and very elegant homes and three very ancient and historic churches.
The fast flowing Loire River itself is a UNESCO site of international significance and on its banks and tributaries stand some of the most stunning and elegant chateaux going around.
In Blois we finally found our first Protestant church in France as well as not one but two Gothic cathedrals. The first is a very ancient structure in the middle of old town with virtually no restoration work done and netting beneath the ceiling to protect worshippers and visitors from falling debris. The second cathedral is also Gothic in style but actually built in the C17th after a storm destroyed the previous building. It became the seat of a Bishop in 1697 and was renamed “Cathedral of St Louis” after Louis XI, patron of the diocese and the cathedral. The newest large church is a Jesuit church, originally the school chapel of a Jesuit school started in Blois in the Counter-Reformation. It has a unique three dimensional “installation” behind the main altar.
Blois also is a “vertically divided” town so there are wonderful panoramas of the city from many vantage points and also many “hanging” gardens and parks. We feel very at home here.