France, International Travel

Le Mans and Montchenain

France Trip – Day 6

September 13, 2019

We left Paris a bit later than we wanted. There was an announced strike on various metro lines which made it a mess for Parisians and tourists to get around. Luckily we were heading out of town but it meant that my dad and Chris had to walk 2 km to Gare du Nord to pick up the rental car instead of taking the metro. It also meant that things were just slower in the city; it took them an hour to get the car ready and then the traffic made it slow to get out of Paris. Once out though, we were cruising. Sometimes you just got to go with the flow.

The pit stop we made on the way to the Val de Loire (Loire Valley) was the city of Les Mans. My dad is a big fan of car racing so the Musée des 24 Heures du Mans was a must for him. And Chris, being a car guy too, tagged along. The rest of us checked out the town. The old town was delightful! Narrow cobble stone streets with balconies full of flowers and small alleys connecting the main streets. This is definitely a town worth checking out for car-lovers and cute-French-town-lovers alike!

Photo: Car Museum in Le Mans

During the hour and a half drive, I let my mind wander. Here’s a glimpse into the random thoughts that popped in my head:

  1. The metro in Paris is so fantastique! It makes it so easy to get around; they have easy to read signs to know which train you have to take and which direction. The station exits are labeled with the streets it will lead to. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) could really learn a thing or two to make their system more navigable.
  2. I found myself appreciating all the beautiful parks in France; they are well maintained and really valued by their citizens. There is nothing better than walking through a park in France or sitting down at a bench and just people watching. Some parks, especially in Paris, have these great reclining chairs which make for a wonderful place to close your eyes and take a nap.
  3. While people may think that servers in France can be rude (and don’t get me wrong, some really are just rude) the ideology that drives them is to allow patrons to enjoy their meal without disruption. This means you need to ask for things you want and you definitely need to ask for the bill (l’addition) at the end of the meal. They will usually not come and ask you if you want or need anything throughout the meal. 
  4. The French (and Europeans in general, in my experience) need to improve their linens and towels situation. I think this is mainly attributed to air drying their laundry, but the towels are so rough! Also, they don’t use top sheets and their pillows are not very comfortable… why?!?! How could this be?

A couple of hours later, we arrived at our Airbnb in Montchenain. The place is a very cute cottage on the footstep of Château Montchenain which was built in the XIXth century (although the original chateau, of which a doorway and two towers are still standing, was constructed in the XIVth century). The cottage has been very nicely remodeled and furnished, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a great kitchen, and an awesome backyard.

After picking rooms and settling in, we set out to the nearest supermarché to pick up essentials to make dinner. The kitchen was so nice my dad and I decided to cook for everyone. We made a green salad topped with cherry tomatoes and buffola mozzarella to start. For the main course, fresh pasta with crumbled sausage and fresh spinach in a white wine cream sauce – so good! It was, of course, served with a bottle of chilled Vouvray wine (courtesy of our hosts) and a baguette from the local boulangerie. For dessert, fruit and ice cream. Perfection! 

Photo credit: Carina, Chris, and Carina’s dad

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