Quelle différence!!! After the calm of the Dordogne, Tours is a vibrant bustling city. My accommodation is fine but definitely in the grittier part of town. I arrived early in the evening after having driven from Sarlat and stopping off at Chateau Milandes and Brantôme.
Chateau Milandes is a 15th century castle with magnificent Gothic features and is a great example of Renaissance architecture. It has become known worldwide thanks to Joséphine Baker the American-born French entertainer, activist, and French Resistance agent. Josephine travelled to France in 1925 and she became an instant success with Parisians for her erotic dancing, and for appearing practically nude onstage in her show “Revue Nègre”.
During the Second World War she was recruited by The French Free Forces. During her work with the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s, she began adopting children, forming a family she often referred to as "The Rainbow Tribe". During her time at Chateau Milandes she had a tendency to overspend and was defrauded by unscrupulous contractors making her pay the same bills many times over – this and her limitless generosity – pushed her into heavy debt. I spent the morning touring the Chateau and its wonderful gardens before setting off for Brantôme.
Brantôme is an attractive town near the northern edge of the Dordogne department, sometimes known as the Venice of the Dordogne (slight exaggeration strictly speaking) - the town has a nice mix of medieval and renaissance architecture.
My accommodation was in a bedsit in modern block of flats, perfect for the couple of days I was spending in Tours, and was on a fairly busy road lined with linden trees - the flowers produce the most wonderful aroma. The apartment had large windows and shutters which were electrically operated; obviously something the owner was very proud of as he demonstrated them to me. I opened all the windows, closed the shutters and the apartment was wonderfully cool and filled with the most fantastic scent from the trees’ flowers. Internet access in the apartment was down and I had no chance to research Tours so I walked to a supermarket I had passed on the way and bought a few essentials and something for my tea. It was getting late when I got back and being about a 30 minute walk from the centre, I decided to leave exploring the city until the next day.
The glorious sunny weather continued and I walked along some residential streets and along the beautiful tree lined Boulevard Béranger to the centre of the city. I paid a visit to the wonderfully gothic Cathédrale Saint-Gatien and walked along the banks of The Loire before heading back towards the apartment and a stroll around the Botanic Gardens which were nearby. I found a little café at the top of my road and spent the evening there with the locals.