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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

France 2010 - Day 12, Part 4 - Château de Brissac

"Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty - a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture." - Bertrand Russell

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France 2010
Day 12 - 13th October - Château de Brissac
(Part 4)

Next was the Louis XII Bedchamber, where he and his mother (Marie de Medici) were reconciled (he overthrew her and sent her into exile).

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Reconstruction of reconciliation scene (it took 3 days)

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These tapestries are copies of ones in Versailles on the life of Alexander the Great.
There're multiple mediocre pictures of this because I realised that the most painful and least enjoyable part of my travelogues was staring at multiple pictures of the same scene and trying to delete the worst ones. I stopped doing this (mostly) a while ago in the interests of time and preventing headaches. 1/8 wasn't good enough to get good shots.

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Poor tapestry bent to give us entrance to the Louis XIII bedchamber. On the upside it meant it was like a secret chamber.


Closing the door to the Louis XIII bedchamber

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Garden from Château

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What might be the ugliest China I've seen

We then went to a room dedicated to Anne de Mortemart, Duchess of Uzès - the first woman to get a driving license in France, in 188X. She was also, unsurprisingly, the first woman to get a speeding ticket (and a 5 Franc fine - which was the maximum). She also rode till 10 days before her death at 80+. Her grandmother was the one responsible for Veuve Clicquot's (a champagne I had never heard of) success.

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The Lady

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Newspaper article on her speeding ticket

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Portrait of Madame Clicquot and her great-granddaughter Anne de Rochechouart-Mortemart

We then went to a chapel.

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Wooden panel

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Article on the "Marquis" marrying a Hungarian "aristocrat". Note that both are - and were at the time of the article's publication - republics.

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Wedding gown

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Chapel Altar

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19th Century Choir Stall from Naples

Next was a "hunting chamber" (if I understood the guide correctly).

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Bed closeup
The painting is German, from the 17th Century

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Bed in context

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The Château's own Opera House

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Entrance Hall

We visited levels 0-2 (1-3). The family lives at level 2 (3) and the rest of the building is closed. Hah.

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Costume of the Last Major Domo (I'm guessing taxes got too high)

The basement of the Château was medieval.

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Arrowhole

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Excalibur

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Caramel with Curry flavour (?!)

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Random wall hanging: "Arte et Marte" ("By Skill and by Fighting")

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Kitchen crockery

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Various knights

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From a book: "You wouldn't want to be a medieval knight"

There was also a tunnel we walked down.

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The Subterranean Canal

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Canal

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Contrast this with the glowing description: "We highly recommend you walk the walk fantastic and share the unique experience to stroll down the underground passage where mystery and magic await you as well as an unforgettable chill" (and it wasn't even that cold)

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Side of Château de Brissac

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Château de Brissac

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Château de Brissac

I counted 5 storeys - 6 if you counted the attic. I think they counted the 2 basements in claiming it was 7 storeys high.

Driving on, I came to a place where the river Loire looked pathetic.

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I talked to some locals who said that it'd been like this for less than 10 years. I asked if this was because of "réchauffement climatique" global warming/climate change. They said no. Furthermore, this was only an arm of the Loire - there was more further beyond.


Panorama of river Loire at Cunault

There was a signboard advertising "Parc Miniature Pierre et Lumière souterran" but we couldn't have a look. It is actually the Loire valley sculpted in miniature.

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Mushroom museum (?!)

The Loire Valley was described as the Valley of the Kings. I was very amused, since those words brought to mind an altogether different place with a slightly different name. Also, somehow I was thinking of castles perched on sheer cliffs. This was the Rhine valley, not the Loire.

At this time, I needed to refuel the car. One station was closed, and another had a "rupture de gazole" (disruption of diesel).

Dinner was at "Auberge des Ecuyers" in Saumur. We decided to go in as it had the magic words, "au feu du bois" (woodfire oven). And when we went in we discovered that it was also recommended by Routard.

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Menu


Wonderful woodfire oven

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Goat's Cheese

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Assiette du Terroir (Plate of the Region)
I felt strange eating green butter (on the mushroom) without snails. I'd seen one mushroom go into the oven - with a ball of butter almost as big as a tennis ball. Oops.

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Andouillette

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Scallop
The flavour of the vegetables was too strong, but they said they just put parsley inside. I didn't like the taste.

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Delectable nougat ice cream - light and with crispy bits inside

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This banner was for La fête de Saint Nicolas (the Festival of St Nicholas). Which according to someone I asked had been put up at the start of summer, for the festival 6 months ahead. That was very weird.

After dinner I still needed to refuel, so I asked a man for directions at a place with rupture de gazole. He was very nice - when he gave me directions different from those another guy had given me, he followed me and flashed his lights to tell me I was going in the wrong direction. He then let me follow him for a bit before giving me further instructions when he was going in another direction. I love the Provinces - this would be very unlikely to happen in Paris.

Unfortunately even despite the guy's instructions I did not find a gas station, so I used the GPS to locate one.

I stopped at a rest stop on the tollway (on which I paid 16€ in total!) on the way to the hotel. It was 4-6 degrees and I almost died.

The hotel for the night (Etap) was the same as Formule 1 except that you got your own [cramped] toilet and bathroom. There was also a thermostat in the room which presumably controlled the air conditioning and bigger towels. And the TV seemed to have more chanels (though we didn't turn on the TV anywhere). Anyhow I didn't think it was worth paying 13€ more.

On the first night, there'd been an ibis hotel opposite the Formule 1. Here, F1, Etap and Novotel were all in the same compound (they're all under Accord). This was very smart, as it allowed people who'd booked the cheaper/st outlet and were disappointed to quickly switch to a more upscale one.


The previous night when the speed camera had snapped either me or someone near me, the speed limit had kept changing due to road works and the like. Maybe that was why they didn't bother chasing me - because they knew it was unreasonable to keep changing the speed limit.

Lonely Planet is the worst guidebook - it has the least character and the most mistakes (though my current French teacher begs to differ, saying that it is the best, and that Routard has had an error about Bandung for years and though many people write in to complain they've done nothing).

Cars with different thermostats for the left and right sides of the car are strange to me (this happened in Spain too).
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