Day 18

Saumur:  Mounted Police. A Donkey. Tanks. Wasps in the Pool.
Pilgrim's progress!
Don’t worry. It was a very peaceful day.

Started off the day with a trip to see Saumur, especially the central section, near the River Loire. It is a lovely little town (population about 30,000), full of quite narrow streets that suddenly expand into lovely circles and squares where the locals and visitors are to be found eating and drinking.

Today's Specials, ours on left
After walking round, we decided to have a little lunch and spotted an inviting menu at Cafe du Coin, €12.50 for salad and dessert. Well, the salad turned out to be mega, much better than the description on the board. A great plateful for each of us, plus two Coffee Gourmands and two Pineau Charente came to just over thirty euro and put an end to the prospect of dining at one of the big restaurants for that evening!

While eating on the pavement table, we saw two mounted policemen come up the street, just riding slowly along. They stopped for a while and as they did so this lady walking a large donkey, both well laden, came down the street, against the traffic.
Mega Salad, tomatoes, chicken, more added to original.
She tried to turn left but the donkey was having none of it. She had better luck when she tried right as the traffic built up. But the animal didn’t seem to like Rue St Jean either, for the duo – the lady looked like a Camino pilgrim – were soon back on main street and this time going in the same direction as the traffic.

We had parked up near the chateau and were soon back up there and headed for a nearby viewpoint. Got some great views over the Loire to the left and to the right and, just as we turned to go back to the car, who should we see but the pilgrim duo again. What a couple! After, all they had climbed all the way up with the temperature up to the thirty mark.
The wild Loire, from the heights of Saumur
Our next port of call was just outside the town, the Musée des Blindés, the museum of tanks, all of them from the 20th century and most used in the two world wars. Man’s ingenuity when it comes to destruction has to be seen to be believed.

There were familiar machines here, the Panzers, the Tigers, the Shermans, the Chieftains. We can only hope that names of this type will never be as familiar again. The men involved, especially in the second world war, were not forgotten and the likes of De Gaulle, Montgomery, Rommel and a rather pasty looking Patton were remembered. 

Chemical warfare
I didn’t think the De Gaulle model was exactly a lookalike. In fact, he looked more like Stephen Fry. The exhibition is in a huge barn type building and is quite a visit if only as reminder of those dreadful conflicts. Just look inside one of those tanks and imagine the panic as flames broke out in the heat of battle. Brave men.

We made our exit into the hot sun and headed for Chinon and agreed it was going to be the traiteur rather than the restaurant. Picked up an inviting looking chicken with lemon, saffron and black olives. We have just the wine to go with it, a 2010 by Clos de L’Epinay, a lovely fruity yet dry Vouvray with a citrusy finish.
Do you think he looks like De Gaulle?
Just had to hit the pool today. We had company. Quite a few wasps had landed there and were floating around, still alive. But we generally avoided one another, though there was one fatality on the other side. C'est la guerre!
A Sherman tank