July 6: In which Benny saw what he called "Another cathedral"

This morning we had food in the house, and we ate it enthusiastically. Bread, cheese, ham, fantastic nectarines, and excellent coffee. We loaded ourselves into the Peugeot with cameras, French phrasebooks, snacks, and good intentions and set off for a place that Dan had spotted on his way to Tours on his bicycle. He described it this way: "If you had kids in bathing suits and you took them there, those kids would be very happy." Dan's objectives for the day included getting us a broadband USB thinger to stick into the side of the computer, getting an iPod cable so we can listen to French lessons via podcast while in the car.

As I'm typing this, I'm listening to the children in the kitchen. They're drawing in their scrapbooks for the day, and discussing how they're going to live in France when they're grown up. Sadie told me this for the first time yesterday. She said, "When I grow up, I'm going to live in France. I'm going to look around and say, 'This is a good house,' and I'm going to live in it." I think they're having a swell time, in spite of the lack of TV and internet and their familiar toys.

Anyway, we headed down the D952 from Amboise toward Tours, driving along the Loire river. Along the right side of the road, we saw lots of little villages that were partially dug into the cliffs on the river side. A lot of these caves are used for housing wine, and many little shops were offering degustation and wine for sale. The villages were *beautiful* -- I am convinced that they compete with each other to see who can hang the most flowers, fill the most window boxes, etc. Everything seems to be blooming. Every direction you look, it's like a postcard.

The place of happy children that Dan had spotted was called "Lulu Parc" and as soon as we saw it, we knew it was going to be awesome. Lulu Parc is described in another post, but if you don't have time to read that, let me just say that Lulu Parc is heaven on earth for children -- water slides, trampolines, playground equipment, bumper boats, jumping castles, ball pits, pony rides, all for seven euros per child. We stayed for four hours, and those may be the best four hours of the children's lives thus far. While we were at Lulu Parc, Dan went on to Tours and took care of getting us the broadband thinger. Which he got.

We went back to Tours to see the cathedral and vieux Tours (old Tours). It was so cool! The first street we drove down, I said to Dan, "Wow, this looks just like the French Quarter in New Orleans!" And Dan said, "Yes, this is Old Orleans." Okay, it's not exactly Orleans but it's right down the road. We found a parking place, gasped appropriately at the cathedral, and then spent a long time trying to get back to the road we wanted to take us back to Amboise. Everything is one way, about five feet wide, and full of traffic. Meanwhile there are window boxes dangling from the second storey everywhere, and people eating out on the sidewalk. The cathedral and chauteau are in the middle of town, and all the new stuff has grown up around it. Once you get out to the more modern area, the streets are wider and easier, but all of the interesting stuff is in the old area. So it takes some fortitude, but fortunately Dan is full of fortitude. He's practically oozing it. You have to be careful not to get any on you.

Back at home, I made pasta and beef, with salad and bread for dinner. Carbing Dan up is no problem here -- the bread is so awesome you can eat it without accompaniment. The children practiced their violins and took baths, and now they're done drawing in their scrapbooks, and I'm going to put them to bed. After I get that accomplished, I'm going to try and post some of these blog posts with our shiny new broadband. Unfortunately for us, you can only get broadband access in one part of the yard. The walls are so thick here, nothing can get in -- not even the beautiful, wonderful internet that we so crave. So, I'll be out under the oak tree in the dark, risking being eaten by a wild boar so I can bring you this news. Bon nuit!

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