The Valley of Unfortunate Events

We were waiting in line at the toll booth, watching the couple in front of us struggle mightily to pay their toll. Unfortunately for them, they were on a motorcycle in steady rain and wind. And unfortunately, once they finally figured out how to pay, they spent too long getting back on the bike, and the toll gate landed on the dash, pinning the bike in place. I’d be lying if I said we hadn’t been amused. And so began our own series of mishaps in the Loire Valley.

See, sometimes EU machines decide they don’t like the taste of our US plastic cards, even now that we’ve finally advanced into the chip and pin era. So that happened, and we had both our ticket and our card, in different turns, quite literally spat out of the machine and somewhere onto the puddle-laden ground below. Quite a scene was made before making our way to a third booth that thankfully accepted cash…

Did I mention the rain? Apparently, Central France had been hammered by rain in the days leading up to our visit, and it was showing zero sign of stopping. What this means for the ultra low, ultra flat Loire Valley is flooding. What this also means is that our planned chateau tours were going to be canceled until the next day. With only a minor incident of driving on the wrong side of the road in town, we made it to our hotel without floating away.

Raincoats engaged, we went tromping around the city, taking in sights such as the brown, swollen Loire River and the enjoyably walkable Ambois downtown. On days like this, you take in the experience by sampling a city’s food and beverage scene and then calling it a night.

Day 2, and the overcast sky had at least stopped leaking aside from an occasional shower. We departed, with flood warnings from the hotel, and went to Chateau de Chenonceaux, a beautiful mansion, hundreds of years old, that spans another swollen river. Externally, it is one of the most photogenic of the region, and even mud-colored river strained to detract from the mansion’s impressive facade.

From there, we left for Chambord, and hour away. We should have taken a cue from the various closed roads and minor flooding that we drove through en route, because we arrived to find it inaccessible due to flooding. We did, at least, have a chance to gape at its imposing size and castle-like beauty. But, feeling defeated by Mother Nature, we decided to head back to our home base for further exploration.

In just a few short hours, we head to a train station in Tours, though it is not confirmed that our train will be there. Labor unrest has led to canceled trains, so only time will tell. We’ll find our way back to Paris somehow, I’m sure…

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