Author Archives: Ed Dechant

Chinon and Fontevraud

Chinon Tower

The tower

Above it all

View from the top

DeMoley marks on the prison wall

Streets of Chinon

Chinon’s streets

Chinon rests on the river Vienne close to its confluence with the Loire.  In addition to its visual charm, it has historical significance.

Joan of Arc came here in 1429 inspiring Charles VII to fight to regain his kindom.

The English monarch, Richard The Lionheart, was born and died here.

Jacque deMolay, the 23rd and last Grand Master of the Knight’s Templar, was imprisoned.  He was later executed on order of the King Philip IV of France who sought to avoid paying the debt the king owed the Knights. This Chateau or fortress is almost completely destroyed; however, enough of it remains to be interesting.  De Molay, scratched his name on the walls of the tower room where he and several of his knights were imprisoned prior to their death in Paris.  The castle buildings command a magnificent view of the river and village below. The town’s charm is its up and down stairs along side beautiful buildings.  Our lunch in an historic building consisted of veal stew with vegetables: 14.50 eu each).

bodies of two English kings and Eleanor of Aquitaine


The Abby’s white stone interior

Later , we drove to the Abby of Fontevraud.  The Abby consists of a group of buildings all very large including a church which itself is huge.  The church’s white stone interior is light and inviting despite its enormity.   In the center, just short of the nave are the bodies of two English kings and Eleanor of Aquitaine.  One of the sarcophagus contains the bones of Richard III with his Lion’s heart presumably.  King John’s heart was supposedly brought here as well. The Abby fell into ruin over time and was used as a prison until 1962 when restoration began.  The priory has been converted into a 50 room luxury hotel while maintaining an outward appearance as a place which fits into the Abby overall plan (

Our evening meal at L’Etape Gournande, Domaine de la Giraudiere ( a wonderful goat farm in Villendry.  Dinner was excellent with quatre chaud toasts with cheese topped with rillon and or crystallized ginger on top of a salade vert avec hazelnuts (an enormous portion). Also the meal offered sweetbreads with turnips and a salade vert with hazelnuts.  Later came guinea fowl roasted with swiss chard, spinach, mushroom and confit de canard baked with potatoes and served with an adornment of small pieces of ham. For dessert came une gateau chocolate comme grand-mere and a cupcake sized chocolate cake, very hot with a molten center, surrounded by vanilla ice cream, some white raisins, a tuille with almonds and sesame seeds, beautiful decorative shapes in delicious chocolate.  Total price for two with wine 56 eu.

Paris 1960

This acrylic was rendered from a photo I shot in April in Paris in 1960.  The museums were empty except for a few guards.  At the top of the grand staircase leading into the Louvre sat the Winged Victory.  Not far away hung the Mona Lisa.  Neither art was protected from vandalism.  I don’t remember any entrance fee.  As far as crowds, there were none.

Cooking in Airbnbs

Second floor, Central Market

Cooking in 10 kitchens in over 4 weeks is a challenge: (1) moving food around which means carrying it; (2) keeping it cold; (3) Or, shopping for only what you need for the next meal; (4) Not having staples: in Italy, we are not seeing pepper. I wonder why. (5) an odd assortment of cooking utensils: (6) not much for stirring sauté pans; (7) No hot pads, or only those rubber things that look like fingertip mittens but are very awkward to use; (8) Preparing without spices means I should have brought a supply of spices that I use; (9) The most frustrating happens at each meal. Where is the “you name it”? Did I see a small pan here or was that yesterday? (10) Opening every single drawer to find the grater which I know is somewhere. Or was that yesterday too? (11) Is there a toaster here? Do the appliances work?? Has the owner turned off the power to the unit; or, after calling the host, we learn: “sorry, it doesn’t work.” (12) Then as we are happily heading back to our apartment, we must stop and remember what it is we need for the next meal that day, and, oh! Breakfast too. I had hoped for a tea pot occasionally here but only rarely do I get one. You just have to make do.  Of course, if you are in Florence, you can shop at the Central Market (shown).  This grand bazaar on three floors has an unending array of food both take out and ready to eat.

First floor, Central Market

Second Floor, Central Market

Staying in a gites or using Airbnb in France

Our gites in Vallandry

In France, an option exists for short stays called Gites (; for instance, this gites, is just $45.00 per day.  These cottages in the country are examined and certified by the French government.  Airbnb doesn’t inspect any of the lodgings they list.  With Airbnb you’re on your own.  With the gites program, you can search for the level of comfort and amenities you need.  Payment is sent to the French government.  Of course, many of the Airbnb’s are quite fine; you just take the word of those who have commented on the unit.  The gites option mainly is in a country setting.  Recently however, these offerings have been extended to some cities.  All gites have full kitchens not so for some Airbnbs.  Although you can find rates for both in the $100 per night range, the gites often have a one week minimum.

Inside the gites