Sept 07, 2012. Angers and Finding my Remote Ancestor in Chinon, France

Before launching into blogging about Sept 07, I need to post something that was left out from the Sept 6th post.  When we were having our dessert and coffee at the Restaurant Le Printinia, my brother was goofing around with as we filmed a “3D coffee” to pay homage to the hilarious “Dr Tongue 3D” movies on SCTV’s “Monster Chiller Horror Theater”.

Dr. Tongue’s 3D House of Coffee
Jean Pierre and his 3D Coffee

Ok, fun’s over, back to our trip visiting Angers in the Loire Valley.  I have to love the name of a place like Angers, especially when English people try to pronounce it.   For the rest of us that speak French and can say it correctly, Angers, Maine-et-Loire was our first stop of the day.  We did a brief walk around of the Château Angers, which as you can see below was closed for some restoration work.

Founded in the 9th century by the Counts of Anjou, was expanded to its current size in the 13th century. It is located on a rocky ridge overhanging the river Maine. Now open to the public, the Château d’Angers is home of the Apocalypse Tapestry.  In 1562, Catherine de’ Medici had the castle restored as a powerful fortress, but, her son, Henry III, reduced the height of the towers and had the towers and walls stripped of their embattlements; Henry III used the castle stones to build streets and develop the village of Angers.  Today, owned by the City of Angers, the massive, austere castle has been converted to a museum housing the oldest and largest collection of medieval tapestries in the world, with the 14th century “Apocalypse Tapestry” as one of its priceless treasures. As a tribute to its fortitude, the castle has never been taken by any invading force in history.

There was so much to see inside and unfortunately, we were allowed in.  Frankly, a place like this deserves at least half a day to explore and given the way our tour was in perpetual “fast forward” mode, we would not have had the opportunity to do the Chateau justice.  Looks like I’ll have to go back to France some time again, which is fine by me!

Chateau Angers, Angers, Maine-et-Loire, France
Gardening inside Chateau Angers

When in France, one expects to visit one or more wineries and sample the local fare.  In our case, there was only one winery we visited, the relatively common Veuve Amiot, which is famous for its line of sparkling wines made using the Methode Champagnois.   I sampled some of their Brut Sec and liked it, in fact, I bought a bottle of their white and rose.  Again, visiting more wineries is another reason to revisit France sometime soon.  If I had the cash and the time, I’d leave right away.

Home of Veuve Amiot Winery, Saumur, Maine-et-Loire, France
Jean Pierre and Raymond Faucher at Veuve Amiot
Jean Pierre and Raymond Faucher at Veuve Amiot

After I did my best to consume as much wine as possible in a short time, we went back to the bus to make our way to the so-called “Cinderella Castle”,  Château d’Ussé in Rigny-Ussé, Indre-et-Loire.  It was case of yet another “drive by shooting” with the tour group.  Because of the brevity of our visit, I won’t take up a lot of space here.  So, I invite you explore the aforementioned link as well as the wikipedia entry for Château d’Ussé.

Château d’Ussé in Rigny-Ussé, Indre-et-Loire

In my opinion, the best part of the Insight tour was spending two nights in the wonderful Château de Marçay in Chinon, Indre-et-Loire.  Sure, the idea of staying in a chateau is appealing, but this place was special and for me it struck a deep chord.   Everything about it I loved, from the vineyards, to the stables and building itself.   I also really enjoyed talking to Manuel, the Norman bar tender.  It was also my first time trying Absinthe and I’m a convert now.  Too bad you cannot buy the really strong stuff in Canada.  Frickin’ nanny state of Ontario we live in.

Château de Marçay in Chinon, Indre-et-Loire, France
The Vineyards of Château de Marçay

I am convinced that I found my long lost ancestor, or at least a damn good facsimile of me, at Château de Marçay.   My long lost progenitor is no less than Rene de Bastarnay, the original Lord of the Château.  Take a look at the photo below, it’s almost a dead ringer for ME!  Damn, I was born 443 years too late.  Deep down I’d love to be an aristocrat, have a vineyard, horses and ruthlessly exploit peasants.

Rene de Bastarnay : Rob Faucher in a past life.

Rene de Bastarnay

After many more glasses of Absinthe enjoyed at the castle, one our last night we had a wonderful dinner inside Chateau Marcay.   I don’t remember what we had, because the Absinthe got ahold of me (but it was good).

Dinner at Chateau Marcay.

As always, here are the rest of the day’s photos to peruse.   Stay tuned for Sept 8th.

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