Since it was our last day in France, we decided to go for one more adventure — to see the cathedral in Orléans, about 64 miles from our hotel in Tours. We checked out of the hotel, ate a quick breakfast and were on our way by 8:40 am. Then the fun began.
Always when we go into a new city for the first time, we look for the sign “Centre Ville,” with the hope that we can find the Office of Tourism and get a map. Many of the signs are confusing by being placed in what we think are awkward angles, and when we enter roundabouts, we never know quite where we’ll end up. Road construction presents another challenge. Our experience in getting to Orléans was just about typical — we missed exits, got lost easily and had to turn round umpteen times. Thank God for roundabouts! We must have gone through at least 100 of them on our trip.
Like most other cathedrals, St Croix at Orléans was undergoing renovation. It is a Gothic structure with high ceilings, stained glass windows in the front and a large pipe organ at the back.
We stopped briefly at the St Paterne church mistaking it for the cathedral, but decided the ceiling wasn’t high enough and the organ was out for renovation.
After leaving Orléans, the real fun began. I had booked a lunch reservation at Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron over the internet before we left on our trip. It is the place where the recipe for the famous apple dessert, tarte tatin, was accidentally created by the Tatin sisters around the turn of the century. Many years ago, there was a French restaurant in Kapahulu called “Café de l’Isle” which published their recipe for tarte tatin in the newspaper. I’ve made this recipe many, many times and I wanted to taste the original.
In order to get to the restaurant, we had to leave Orléans and find highway A-71. I cannot tell you how many times we passed the entrance and were completely boggled by all the signs in the roundabout. We got ourselves going in the wrong direction and had to find a roundabout to reverse — sometimes 20 km away!
It was a miracle that we finally arrived ten minutes before our reservation, and it had taken us an hour and forty minutes to drive about 20 miles. But oh! what a special meal for our last repast in France. The hotel and the meal were super elegant, as was the decor of the dining room, and the artful presentation of the food. And the tarte tatin was simply delicious. It was fitting end to a fantastic trip.
La belle France — the music, the food, the churches, the flowers — we loved it all!