2005-09-30: Chateau


September 30th, Day 7

We started our morning with breakfast at the hotel (the extra cost is so worth it in France). There was some drizzle about and it felt like winter was coming but we weren't going to let that deter us. I intended to find Jesus. Well, at least the statue of him that stood above the town. So we left for a near vertical climb up the ancient street. We somehow missed Jesus as we lost sight of him and ended up on the ridge above the town. This was a far more familiar suburban place and also far more level so we walked along the top for a while. We reached a point that turned back to Chinon but I spied a graveyard across the road and dragged us over there for a look.

The Chinon castle

The graveyard wasn't ancient but it wasn't like any we have seen elsewhere. The French don't seem to do grass in their graveyards, the whole place was gravel over the top. Sepulchres seem to be a common theme amongst those that can afford it and the little tombs stood dotted about the place. Another common feature is that the French put little plaques on top of the graves, sort of a memento to the life of the dearly departed underneath (they could've been reading "you suck" for all the French I know but I don't think they did). You could tell the more recent or more popular people by the amount of stuff stacked on their grave.

From the graveyard we headed to the entrance of the castle. There was a trebuchet lying around so we played on that. Some of the entrance was secured away from pedestrians as archaeologists scuttled over the ground and dug their little holes. I wasn't interested in that anyway. I wanted what lay on the other side of the bridge and moat and under the massive entrance keep and clock tower.

Looking down at Chinon

The castle was the type of castle I always pictured from D&D worlds. The run-down quality gave it more of a real castle feeling than the palace of Krakow. The castle was only run-down because some other French dude wanted his chataeu to look better. There wasn't a sense of historical importance in the place but more one of dominance, probably to do with all the thick defensive walls around me. We entered the quarters where Joan of Arc met the king. We walked through towers were Knights Templars had been held and killed (and had left some old vandalism). We climbed up towers and down into the bottom of towers; places that were light and some where we used the flash and camera to make sure of what was ahead. After the walls we then went up the tower with the Joan of Arc museum. On the top you could stand by the bell and look out over the valley to enjoy the view. The bell did toll while we were in the tower but luckily we were in the floor below it at the time, not next to it on the parapets.

From the castle we went to look at the shops in Chinon but we had reached that hour where the French close everything (generally called the afternoon in the English world). By a local museum we found what were probably historical public toilets. There was a couple of squat toilets and some urinals. Squat toilets are much like long drops except no seat and you hose down the whole procelain plate you stand on to do your business. I wasn't interested in trying these devices out. After the loo we went into the museum to find it was unattended until a lady rushed in with a coffee in her hand from next door to check on us. She told us the price. Edyta wasn't interested in going in but after some negotiating encouraged just me to enter.

The museum turned out to be one full of copies of stuff from real museums. The most interesting part was going up the stairwell and through doors that I thought I wasn't meant to, until I discovered another room of exhibitions behind them. There was a nice selection of spears and halberds but not much else. Edyta was right, just another pokey museum. I returned to try to find her. She wasn't where I had left her. Fortunately she popped her head up from a chair a few metres up the road. I couldn't tell you how embarrassed I would've been if I'd lost my wife somewhere.

We then tried to wander into some of the market stores but they were all closed for the extended French lunch break. Instead we crossed the bridge to look at the town from across the river. It looked impressive. Then we wandered around some more, noting how dry the place was - it looked a lot like the Barossa Valley. We walked past a local high-school where during lunch all of the delinquents (children) seem to be allowed to leave grounds. Some took this as an opportunity to smoke outside of the school grounds and so sitting on the other side of the school fence lit up and happily spanked their lung cells. Others at least crossed the road to make out. With so many young people around Edyta and I felt uncomfortable. I hitched my pants up to my nipples and the pair of us cursed the youth as we shuffled away.

There is an island in the middle of the river that looks like a big park. We walked around it to kill time till the shops opened and found that instead of a park it is allotments of land. Local people would own some land here (there is no land in town) and grow things. Or just neglect the property. Whatever they were into.

The shops did open but there wasn't much of interest in them. I did come across a store that had a sticker proclaiming that it was an official Games Workshop stockist and could see they did the LoTR range but the store was closed for a week while the owner was on holiday. I took a photo of it to add to the gallery anyway. We continued cruising around up until a bit after dark when we'd walked as much of the town as was worth walking and retired for a our last night on French soil.

The store sells GW stuff

Jesus watches us with his stony gaze

There wasn't much on TV to report, but I did see Anthony Stuart Head (come on ----- Giles!) on another TV show on BBC Prime.