As you can probably tell from my previous posts about our trip to France, we spent a lot of time walking. This is usually our favorite way to discover a place, but this time around things were a bit more difficult. A few days before we left, Chester injured his foot—exactly how he did so is a mystery, but he woke up one day and could hardly put pressure on it. Because I’m a good wife, and I wanted to be sympathetic to his situation, I woke up at around 1 a.m. on the day we were leaving, and stubbed my toe on the oversized, plastic wheels of my suitcase, which was sitting in the middle of the bedroom floor (I blame the cat. I was trying to avoid stepping on her). We both arrived in France with slight limps (and my toe was a nice shade of purple).
But, we still managed to do everything on our agenda during those first few days of the trip. We just took things a little slower than we normally would and stopped for breaks more frequently. Chester fashioned a split for himself out of a nail file I had in my make-up bag and I just slipped off my shoe whenever we sat down. Chester was definitely in more pain than me—I seriously don’t know how he was doing it. I kept telling him what a trooper he was.
But, when we woke up in our creepy hotel on the fourth day of our trip, he was in a lot of pain. Probably because we were walking for hours and hours each day, sometimes on uneven pavements and steep hills, so his foot just couldn’t take it anymore. We decided that we would put off planned morning trip to one of the chateaus in the area in favor of a visit to the emergency room. With the amount of pain he was in and the swelling that was going on, were kind of convinced that it might be broken.
We checked the U.S. Embassy website, and it told us that Tours (which was about an hour away from where we were staying) was the closest hospital with an English speaking doctor on staff. We called though, and that did not seem to be the case—Chester spent about 30 minutes on the phone with them trying to explain the situation, and they kept thinking that he was calling to pay a bill. So, we decided to just take a chance that the local hospital in Amboise would be able to help. Since we were in a small town, we reasoned, at least maybe we wouldn’t have to wait for hours end.
It ended up being the most efficient hospital experience ever—we were in and out in less than an hour. Foot injuries seemed to be the order of the day there, as we saw two other people leaving with casts. Chester had X-rays, and the nice English speaking doctor determined that his foot was not broken, but that he had a really bad muscle strain. A nurse came in to tape his foot up, and we were sent on our way with prescriptions for anti-inflammatory pills, painkillers, and crutches.
We headed back into the center of town and had grabbed sandwiches while waiting for the pharmacy to re-open after the lunch break. We also stopped by Patisserie Bigot. This cute, family-owned café has been in business since 1913. Although the cases were filled with every type of pastry and chocolate imaginable, we zeroed in on the jumbo sized macaroons. The shell was perfectly chewy and the chocolate filling was rich, but not too sweet.
The pharmacy finally re-opened, and with crutches and “magic candy” in hand, we continued on with our plans for the rest of the day—a visit to the Chateau of Chambord. With 444 rooms, 85 staircases, and 365 chimneys, this is the largest of the 300 chateaus in the Lorie Valley. It was built by Francois I, as a hunting lodge (It also allowed him to be close to his mistress. How romantic.), but he actually stayed here for less than 40 days total. It fell into ruin for about 80 years after he died, and although his descendants undertook some restoration and expansion work, it was never fully completed. Some of the works from the Louvre, including the Mona Lisa and Venus DeMilo, were kept here for safekeeping during World War II and it was finally fully restored after that.
After our visit, we drove to our next overnight stop in Blois. This town was so confusing to drive in, as the streets were super tiny, and the names changed midway down the blocks. We overshot the Hotel de France et de Guise, where we were staying, at least two times. By the time we checked in, it was getting kind of late and we didn’t really have much time—or energy—for that matter, to explore the town. So, we just stayed close by and had dinner at a place that reminded me a little of the Penrose Diner in South Philly (another hamburger for Chester and croque monsieur for me. Nothing really memorable). We were more than happy to head back to hotel, with its comfortable bed, air conditioning, and the BBC channel on television, after that.
I did manage to get a few photos from our hotel balcony. This is definitely a town that I would like to explore a bit more on our next trip to France.
Even with our detour to the hospital, we still ended up having an awesome day. It could have been worse. At least no one lost an eye or something.