Miraculously, the sun has come out so I suggest to my Australian friend Mei Lun, who’s staying with me for a few days, that we go into Blois for coffee and maybe find some ginger tea. It’s warm for late October – 15°C – and the sky is bright blue, certainly not time to be working!
We park on the “Mail” along the Loire River and walk into the centre of town admiring the half-timbered houses in the sun. Mei Lun remarks on how clean everything looks. It’s almost 12 so most of the shops are shutting up. We’re in the provinces after all. We go past the most amazing collection of shopping trolleys. There’s a black one that says Le Chariot de Maman. “Are they really called chariots?” says Mei Lun. And I suddenly realise how funny the name is!
We arrive at the tea shop in time. The man behind the counter is very welcoming and finds us the tea we are looking for. We wander around looking at all the wonderful things connected with tea and coffee in the shop, including some Chambord biscuits, which are the local speciality.
We walk towards Place Louis 12 where “The Clipper” has great lounge chairs but awful coffee, so I discovered a few days ago. Much better for an apéritif which is accompanied by some great tapas. There are a few market stalls. A lady calls us over, vaunting her wares. She has various sorts of pâté, local honey and Cheverny wine. She suggests we taste the wild boar and prune pâté, explaining it comes from Sologne, which is the big hunting area around Chambord castle which you may remember from my bike ride with Jane in the summer.
It’s delicious so we ask for a slice. She then suggests that we try another one – duck foie gras and truffle pâté (not to be confused with foie gras), saying she only has two left and that she’s willing to cut it in half if a whole one is too much. I remark on her excellent sales technique which makes her laugh. We try the pâté and it’s divine but I’m thinking about those extra holiday kilos so I check that it will keep until Relationnel arrives on Thursday. It will, so we buy half. It turns out she’s there every Tuesday and Thursday so I promise to come back another time.
We climb the many steps up to Blois castle and come out on the esplanade. I had planned to go to Les Forges du Château which opened at the beginning of the summer, but it’s closed, so we go down to Le Marignan, which is near the Maison de la Magie. We order our coffees, which are not too bad and enjoy the sun, with the beautiful façade of the castle as a backdrop. And I’m so glad that we found our beautiful Renaissance home in Blois!