ABOARD RENAISSANCE-I have a new definition of bliss: sitting on deck as the Renaissance slowly slides through the Loire countryside, watching as we hit our first lock of the day, then returning to the cabin for Chef Luke’s blueberry pancakes before hitting the deck again for more observation of the French way of life.
Spring is springing here, with fresh green leaves sprouting, the many flowering trees laden with pink and white blossoms and the greenswards filled with tiny buttercups and daisies. After an hour of no sounds other than birdsong, the interruption of traffic on the road above is a rude intrusion.
After lunch and wines, we add to that intrusion, piling in the van and heading for the glories of Fountainebleau, home to kings and royals for eight centuries. Entering through the cobblestoned Adieu Court added a touch of sadness for it is here that Napoleon I said farewell to his troops and headed into exile.
We only saw a few dozen of its 1,500-plus rooms, but they were glorious indeed, and an evocative tour of French decorative arts and tastes through the centuries. Anne of Austria’s bedchamber was particularly grand, the Renaissance styled ballroom of Francois I (completed by his son, Henri II ) was a taste pleaser and Napoleon’s bedroom surprisingly modern in feel.
By the time we reached Trinity Chapel, our senses were crammed with new impressions and our legs ached. Not enough to keep us away from a quick walk around the medieval town of Moret sur Loing, headquarters for the Impressionist painter Alfred Sisley.
We strolled along the riverside, entered the narrow, fortified gates and lingered in Notre Dame de la Nativity, a bulwark for centuries of believers.
One thing we were not believers in – cobblestones, a chore to walk on. It lacks quaintness and charm but give me asphalt.
It was both a relief and a joy to return to another one of Chef Luke’s superb dinners, ham with mozzarella and salmon with red pepper sauce.
April 20, 2015
Photos by Judy Wells