November 6th

    Our chateau is located on the south side of the River Loire and to the east of Muides sur Loire. Not on the scale of the chateaus of the royalty, it is still quite nice. Its owners used it for agriculture until shortly before WW II. It was occupied by the German Army for three months during WW II, and the family moved to a close by town. After the war the family returned and it was turned into a hotel; family members not involved in running the hotel found work outside the chateau. Patrick, our host and cousin of the current owner, indicated that the Allied forces crossed the River Loire at the west end of the chateau; a marker indicates the spot. The chateau was not affected by the French Revolution. (more…)

    November 5th

    This morning we visited Chateau of Azay-le-Rideau. It is a small chateau and very beautiful, an appropriate start for our journey to three chateaus of the Loire valley today and tomorrow.

    I found the construction details of the Azay chateau interesting. The support structure of the chateau was constructed in the early 1500s of massive oak timbers from a nearby forest. The timbers and their mortise and tenon joints were exposed to view in the attic and the lower floor. The tools used to construct the support structure were primitive by our standards, but I was able to see several complicated joints that were very well done and have served their intended purpose for over 500 years. (more…)

    November 4th

    We departed from Le Pouliguen with heavy hearts after six wonderful days with our friends. We heartily recommend the commune as a vacation destination spot. Our hostesses Nicole and Anne Marie made our visit so nice – thank you Nicole and Anne Marie!! Anne Marie and her husband Pasquale own the residence in which we stayed – Les Goylands.

    Mom and I are having lunch at a brasserie on the cliff on the south side of the Loire River in Saumur. Our table provides a beautiful view of the Chateau of Saumur and the Loire River below. A photo of our lunch view is posted on the WhatsApp Innkeeper chat.

    We will drive up the Loire River valley this afternoon to our hotel in Azay Le Rideau. Azay is a very small town. Our hotel is in the middle of the town, and was originally – in the 18th century – a post house. Their post houses serve the same function as ours – a way station for travelers. It provided a place to rest the horses, swap a horse team, eat, or spend the night.

    The Chateau of Azay-le-Rideau is several blocks from our hotel and we will visit it tomorrow.

    November 3rd – Sunday

    Today is a stormy day. Heavy rain and high winds kept us inside most of the day.

    We had lunch in the town of Bazs sur Mer and then visited a bunker that was constructed in Le Pouliguen by its German occupiers during WW II. The bunker has been converted into a museum displaying artifacts of the Germans occupation. It was a poignant reminder of France’s tenuous situation during that war and added a personal side to the usual american view of France’s role during the war.

    We played bridge for several hours in the late afternoon. The group fixed a dinner of fresh shrimp, oysters, snails, et cetera. They were kind enough to fix a portion of Hake (a mild white fish) for me and Mom.

    Pasquale departed for Paris this afternoon after he and Anne Marie took in a movie. He works there during the week and comes to Le Pouliguen most weekends.

    November 1st

    Raders and Armisteads departed from Le Pouliguen for Paris. Denys, Fernando, and I escorted them from Le Pouliguen to the Nantes train station to make sure their departure was uneventful and then had lunch in Nantes.

    Rain

    Move to second house

    Did I mention rain?

    Bridge at 2nd house

    Storm

    Ann Marie and Pasquale prepared dinner for us tonight as the weather was too bad to go out. They also joined us for dinner. They are our host / hostess in the second house; Ann Marie is Denys’ cousin.

    October 31st

    The group played bridge this morning at the second house, and then headed to Piriac for lunch. After lunch we did a bit of sightseeing on the roads between Piriac and Le Pouliguen before settling in for the conclusion of our bridge game, dinner, and our trophy presentation. Nicole assembled for us a wonderful last supper from leftovers from the previous dinners.

    Fernando (1st place), Denys (last place), Sandi (2nd place), receive their awards from Mistress of Ceremonies Carol Silva
    Fernando (1st place), Denys (last place), and Sandi (2nd place), receive their awards from Mistress of Ceremonies Carol Silva

    The winner of our bridge contest was Fernando. Sandi was in second place, and Denys earned the opportunity to spend the next three months studying “the book”. Congratulations to all of our competitors and kibitzers. ¬†We hope to see those who could not make it to Le Pouliguen at our next event in Atlanta on January 31st, 2015.

    October 30th

    I am greeting the sunrise this morning. Our veranda’s view faces east across the bay toward the mainland. The sun has not yet broken through but four contrails in the distance are a brilliant pink, foretelling a nice sunrise.

    Denys, Fernando, and I went for a bike ride this afternoon while the girls and Eddie went shopping in La Baule. We rode a six mile route that took us along the oceanside close to our houses, through the harbor, and through the town of Le Pouliguen. Lots of bicyclists were out enjoying the sunny fall day. The terrain around Le Pouliguen is flat, making our ride quite easy.

    October 29th

    Skies this morning are beautiful and blue – boding well for our drive up the coast to Le Pouliguen today.

    We had a delightful breakfast with other guests staying at the B&B this morning, particularly a couple from Belgium who spoke English comfortably. The husband works for a chemical company and the wife is a high school French teacher. We had a good time comparing education approaches between Belgium and the US with them.

    The B&B was a real sleeper. The exterior was not inviting at all. I was ready to pass on it before Jan went inside and gave it her approval. The interior was nicely done and the host was very friendly and helpful. Breakfast was great, and the B&B was located a few minutes from the tram that took us into the Old City.

    We were the last of the group to arrive in Le Pouliguen. The Williamsons, Raders, and Armisteads gathered on Saturday and the Silvas arrived yesterday. The Williamsons are hosting the gathering and arranged for two houses to accommodate the group. One is a bed and breakfast run by Nicole’s cousin and the other is an oceanside private residence owned by a classmate of Nicole’s. Both are beautiful. We are currently staying in the oceanside home with the Williamsons. Our second floor east facing bedroom overlooks the ocean and has a private veranda that we will use in the morning to watch the sunrise. Life is difficult here in France.

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