April 7th, 1998
We had breakfast this morning at the hotel restaurant. We got a really charming table with a great view of the harbor. Shortly after being seated, a stately, elderly couple entered the dining room. Andy and I were the only ones there at the time. "Madame, Monsieur" they each said as they entered the room; I'm not sure they looked at us while acknowledging us. It's customary for the French to acknowledge the room upon entering and to bid farewell to everyone when exiting. It's just that the way they did it seemed very cool. Oh, and she had her small dog with her which she proceeded to feed at their table. Anyone surprised?
These next two days were really a lot of fun. We decided to travel West towards Paris about 150 miles and stay in Saumur.
So, along the Loire we went stopping once at Challone to take advantage of the market. There we bought fresh bread, cheese, meat and fruit. Then we found a picnic spot along the water and ate sandwiches and drank Orangina. I love Orangina but to me it tastes better in France than it does here.
When we arrived in Saumur, we found the tourist office where they had brochures listing bed and breakfasts in the area. Andy and I settled for the cheapest one, which was realy a chambre d'hote - basically a room someone "rents" from their house. Promptly we phoned for availability and directions.
This little chambre d'hote was absolutely charming, and so were the couple who owned it: Mr and Mrs. Nouri.
Our room was cozy. The first thing that one notices apon entering are the little mirrors scattered throughout. They had the little "Happiness is...." characters on them that were so popular in the 70's.
Then, there was the issue with the lights. The light switches didn't make sense. One outside switch would turn on the lights across the room and inside the bathroom. A separate switch turned on lights near the entrance of the room and other parts of the room. It was really sort of comical trying to determine what lights were connected with the multiple switches.
And finally the bathroom that was adjoin to the room; it was separated only by a curtain, no door. Andy and I felt we knew each other well enough to be able to work through this one. We were correct and we even enjoyed teasing each other about it.
After we put our bags away we went downstairs and sort of wandered through the their house. We discovered an endless music collection and an array of different gadgets and other things. We stepped into the kitchen and waited for Mr. Nouri to come talk to us.
He was really quite a character; an older man with a very big white mustache. He wore wooden shoes, like the ones you see from Holland. He had two pairs: one pair for inside and one for outside. His inside shoes were painted orange and had been painted 7 times. Neither Andy nor myself were sure if he meant 7 different times or 7 coats of paint. His outside shoes were painted black. He didn't mention how many times they had been painted.
He also owned the old property across the road where he was pounding out walls and discovering secret rooms.
That first day in Saumur, Mr. Nouri sent Andy and me into the local town to see the work of a local artist who specialized in illumination. He was really quite talented and knew everything there was to know about the subject. He was very cute, too.
Andy and I then headed back to the house, we showered and went out for crepes from one of the local eateries. Always a tasty treat.