Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Blois, Blois, Blois

We arrived in the Loire Valley on Sunday in the rain. It didn’t bode well for our cycling trip but we tried not to dwell on it. We managed to give the car back to the salesman in Paris. He promised to try to sell it for us before we leave but said if he couldn’t he’ll buy it back. We’re not too worried. Tom in particular felt a lot less responsibility for the four bicycles than for the car.

While wandering around Blois the first evening, we came across a lovely manor and Tom stopped to take a picture. A few minutes later, two windows opened and two large gold dragon’s heads slowly emerged followed by another dragon’s heads from three more windows. This was probably one of the more surprising things to emerge from a manor on our trip. Eventually two claws and a tail also stuck out the window and strange music played. Rhys captured it on film. Apparently, the manor was a House of Magic and this was not an uncommon occurrence. The house is in honour of hometown boy, Robert-Houdin, the magician Houdini got his name from.

Less surprising was the Blois Chateau. It was built by Francois I, a French king whose emblem is a salamander. Back in the day, it was believed that the salamander could be reborn from flame. I’m not sure anyone ever tried this as there would have been many fried salamanders if they had. However, it tickled my funnybone to think of a king who thought of himself as a salamander. Of course, the other king who worked on the castle, Henri, had a porcupine as his emblem. Apparently, the fiercer animals had all been taken. So, the castle walls are filled with royal salamanders and porcupines. The best thing about the castle being worked on by Henri was that his first initial is H. This means the floors were tiled in H tiles, the walls were covered in H fabric and the fireplace mantles were plastered in fancy H emblems. My kind of place.