We’re in Thierry’s House!

(Cute house in Clères)

We’ve arrived at a town called Château Thierry, I don’t think it’s our Thierry… unless he’s keeping his Château in France a secret? We haven’t seen the actual Château yet, we don’t know what size it is or even if it’s still standing.

(Tiny library in Clères)

The aire on the other hand is great. There’s little hedges around the pitches (€7) and electricity (€2) and there’s even a toilet and shower. It’s located right beside the river (which might be where the biting insects live…)

(Bullrushes in a picnic park in Clères. Yes, there’s a park with picnic tables, some covered. Plus, very well kept and supplied toilets! Thank you, France!)

And there’s free WiFi! Well sort of. If you stand by the fence near the McDonalds you can have their WiFi for free! Yes it’s beside a very fancy McDonalds with colorful art on the walls, book shelves with books and comfy armchairs with sockets to charge your devices! We bought a coffee and even that was good. Denis has his eye on a blue cheese and bacon burger for dinner. Don’t judge us…

(Flowers everywhere in Clères)

There’s a cycle path beside the river so I may head in this afternoon if it gets a bit cooler. (Oh forgot to tell you, the weather had been magnificent since we started moving south. In fact a little too magnificent – we’re roasted in the middle of the day, but the up side of that is we’re making tonnes of electricity!) Unfortunately, the town itself doesn’t get a great score with reviewers so I’m not promising pictures, fortunately, I still have some left over from beautiful Clères.

Powered by the sun and McDonald’s WiFi from Thierry’s Château, Mairead.

Galette, Butterfly and Bee

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(This crêpere has had a licence to trade since 1941 – that was during the second world war!)

It’s Sunday and a travel day for us. We are still on route to see Nancy and have arrived in another pretty aire. I tell you about it tomorrow but I have photos to share from yesterday for now. It was lunch time when we left the zoo so we decided to do what the French do – have lunch. By that I mean have our main meal in the middle of the day and since we had saved on the cost of entry to the zoo we were practically getting that for free too… does it show that I never did accountancy?

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(I love the blue)

The cafe I called into on the previous day was also a crepére so we stopped there and had a look at the menu. One of the galettes (which is a wholemeal flour savoury pancake) that caught my eye was called La Bray Normandie with apple, Neufchâtel, ham and mushrooms. I wondered aloud what Neufchâtel might be and a young girl sitting at the table beside us told me! I couldn’t help overhearing, it’s a cheese, local to Normandy and it’s produced in the shape of a heart! I love hearts!

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(Here’s the butterfly)

Our translator was from Bulgaria with perfect English and as far as I would recognise, perfect French. She has been living and working in Paris for the past five years. She and her boyfriend love this area of Normandy are were on a visit for the weekend. She described Neufchâtel cheese saying it was like camembert but not as strong and when her lunch came she offered a taste of her boyfriends cheese sauce because it was camembert… and it was good. Her boyfriend was French (and very generous with his chips and cheese sauce) and had visited Connemara. He loved it and of course we told them how much we loved France.

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(…and a bee)

And when my galette arrived it was the best I’ve ever had. The apple was slightly mushy and brown and it worked perfectly with the cheese and ham and mushrooms and the pancake itself wasn’t too dry or too thick, it was just right. I didn’t stop eating until there was nothing left on my plate.. so no picture. (Reminder to self: take a pause to savour your lunch.)

I’ll be looking out for that Neufchâtel in the shape of a heart, Mairead.

The beautiful animal park in Cléres

(The pink Flamingos and some random ducks)

I mentioned yesterday that there is a zoo here in Cléres and today we went on a visit. As it’s France, of course this would not be an ordinary zoo, this is a beautiful compact bird and animal park in the grounds of a château with it’s own Gothic castle and the remains of a medieval keep. And one more thing to thank France for – there was no entry charge today! Don’t know why. The zoo was set up over 100 years ago by Monsieur Jean Delacour. Seemingly he was a famous ornithologist (had to look it up: interested in birds) who worked for zoos around Europe and the US. His family was rich so… he got a château and started taking care of birds and animals.

(Even without the animals this is a beautiful park)

The majority of the birds and animals run (or waddle or bounce) free in the unfenced paddocks and seem unafraid of the humans who are very well-behaved walking along the paths and staying off the grass. Well they were mostly unafraid but I got in the way of three young antelopes, called black bucks, who were trying to cross a bridge and they looked very worried. I stayed very still and eventually they bounced off on their way. It really looked like they bounced, you know like when sheep jump over fences in cartoons?

(I have no idea what this guy is called, but he was munching away at bugs on his tree trunk when I took this. He’s about the size of a hamster with a long tail)

My favourite animal was the Red Panda, which looks like a cross between a fox and a teddy bear. Like the black and white Panda the red one has an extra bone in it’s wrist that helps it grab bamboo shoots making it adorable… A close second favourite was the Emu, his feathers look like hair with a parting running down the center of his back while his feet are very prehistoric looking.

(Here’s the Red Panda, can you see how he holds the bamboo branch? Awww!)

Up at the château there’s a pretty garden filled with flowers that I love. As I was taking picture after picture of blooms, one nicer than the next a butterfly caught my eye. He was perched on a big flower head and didn’t notice me walk round and round getting shots of him. I must have been there for 10 minutes and he was still there when we left.

(This is a terrible shot but I wanted you to see how strange it looks… it’s part of the Emu’s foot – two of his three toes to be precise. His entire foot is about the size of my hand)

I’ll send you the flower and butterfly pictures tomorrow,  Mairead.