01 November 2012

Reunited in Tours

Monday to Wednesday saw my first main excursion of my Year Abroad, and it was a very enjoyable couple of days indeed! I travelled a couple of hours north-east to Tours in the Loire Valley. My very good friend Rachel lives and works there so Morgan and I stayed with her for a couple of nights. I was fairly familiar with the city, having spent a week there doing work experience a few years ago, but this trip confirmed that Tours is one of my favourite cities in France. It's got everything; a big grand station, a huge river, a stunning cathedral, loads of shops, millions of gorgeous churches, an old part of the city where all the streets are cobbled and the buildings are really cute and full of character, a pretty square full of bars and restaurants, and generally a really nice ambiance.

La Cathédrale Saint-Gatien de Tours

The impressive Hotel de Ville, albeit with roadworks all around it

But of course the most exciting part of my mini holiday was seeing my two old housemates and sharing stories of our Year Abroad. Rachel is working in a primary school so it was interesting to hear about the different teaching strategies between her age group and mine and Morgan's.

Despite the low temperatures, we couldn't have hoped for better weather at the end of October. There was not a cloud in the sky as we visited the nearby town of Amboise and had a look at its château. We picnicked on the bank of the Loire eating our way through much too much fresh baguette and cheese. 

Eating al fresco on the banks of the Loire

View of the Château d'Amboise

The next few hours were spent in the grounds of the Chateau d'Amboise, learning about its history and appreciating the spectacular views onto the river. It was interesting to learn that only about 20 percent of the original château is still there, and was hard to imagine what it would have been like in the 13th century.

Château d'Amboise

Perfect weather for a panoramic view from the top of the Château
I realised when we got there that I had in fact briefly stopped off in Amboise with my family years ago as we were driving south for a holiday. I didn't remember the town being so picturesque though.

A typical Amboisien street with its timbered buildings

In our uni house last year, cooking was one thing we all loved to do, so being together again we took the opportunity to make dinner together. The first night we made a courgette, red pepper and mushroom in white wine sauce pasta dish, and day 2 we made red onion and feta tarte tatin. Both were delicious and have made me want to cook more exciting dishes whilst in France. The trouble is, it's difficult when there's just one of you, as you then end up eating the same thing for the next few nights.

Red onion and feta tarte tatin served with a side salad
We then set off for an apparently amazing pirate-themed bar which Rachel had been to before. But in true Rachel style, after walking for 20 minutes, we came to the conclusion that it wasn't where she thought it was, so we walked back to the old part of town and had a lovely drink in an English-themed pub called Sherlock Holmes.

The rest of my time in Tours was spent eating more bread, more cheese, lots of brioche, homemade croissants, gelato, and treats from the patisserie. It's fine, I was on holiday...

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