After our big day out to Mont Saint Michel yesterday we were not really disappointed that the forecast for today was rain in the morning and drier in the afternoon. That gave us permission to lie in a bit later this morning and enjoy the sound of the gentle rain on the skylights. It was approaching 8:00 am by the time we were all up and eating breakfast.
The morning was spent relaxing and working on whatever projects we had in train. I finished processing my photos from yesterday, discarding duplicates and failed shots to reduce more than 130 to fewer than 80 that I uploaded to Flickr before resuming some reading. Majella read and worked on her artwork. Pauline stitched and John tinkered on his computer.
After lunch we decided that the sky was lightening sufficiently to justify an excursion. Majella checked on the permaculture garden that Jane had discovered lay along the road to Hénon but it opens only on selected days and then only in the morning so it was out. We headed for Moncontour, hoping to be able to do some of the walking tour that we had put off several times to avoid wet weather. We also hoped to find the mystery château that we had been seeing from the road just beyond Trédaniel. We had tried a couple times going up the back road into Moncontour but had not managed to locate it so far.
We entered Moncontour by the lower gate and wound our way up to the square in front of the church of Saint Mathurin and then around to the square by the supermarket where we parked. From there we walked back to the main street and down the stairs through the wall to the main road below the town. What rain fell was light and did not really bother us. The stairs were steep but not dangerously slippery and we enjoyed a snack of blackberries from the canes that hung by the bottom of the stairs. We were a bit disappointed that our path had not actually taken us onto the ramparts but wandered up the road and returned to the other level via the stairs near the boulangerie where we needed to buy bread. Our path also took us by the bank where we needed to use the ATM before we reentered the square by the church and walked to its rear to see the Hôtel de Ville.
Beyond that we explored the garden below the lower gate dedicated to the countries of Europe. It was mostly trees with a few flowers but gave us a good view over the lower part of the town. From there we walked back up toward town by the road we had driven in on. Along the way we chanced upon Le Théâtre du Costume, an attraction that Majella had hoped to see at some point. It was open so we paid our entrance and enjoyed the display of models in French costumes of the ages. Many of the displays featured kings and queens or emperors of France but there was one room given over to a display of life in a château for all ranks of people. The entire thing is the work of a single elderly woman who has worked on it in her retirement since 2002. She was happy to talk about the displays and her techniques. As we exited, Majella noticed a banner hanging over the street that she and Pauline thought might well be their coat of arms with thimbles, scissors and thread.
After a little more than an hour exploring Moncontour we were ready to sit and enjoy a beverage. We headed for Le Contre Temps, a bar that claimed a view over the ramparts. We found seats in the outside area and left Pauline in charge while we went to order. The bar had no food but the barman was happy for Majella to fetch what we wanted from the patisserie around the corner and eat that in the bar. John and I ordered hot chocolates for Majella and Pauline, beer for me and red wine for John. As those were being prepared, John noticed a bottle of Armagnac on the shelf and decided he had to try that in honour of a friend with Armagnac as his surname. By the time Majella returned, Pauline had moved us inside to avoid smokers who had comandeered the outside area. We shared the mixed pastries Majella had procured.
The pastries were good enough that we acquired some more on the way back to the car to have for dessert tonight. We completed some quick shopping in the supermarket and then headed out of town. On our way in we had looked for the location of the mystery château and decided that it was actually in the hills beyond Moncontour. We drove in that direction and not far out of town found the château hidden behind trees by the roadside. We were able to get a good view of a gatehouse but the rest of the estate was mostly hidden by large trees. We have so far not been able to find a name for the estate.
We had planned to visit Mont Bel Air, the highest point in the region and home to the chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, on our way back to Trébry. I could not bring it up on the car GPS so we used Maps.me on my phone. It got us there but via some back roads, including a stretch of unpaved track. The church is small and simple but clearly well used and appreciated by those who have left plaques of thanks for favours granted.
We were home in Trébry soon after 4:00 pm with time to relax before drinks and dinner. Majella made fried rice and that was followed with the pastries and the remnants of the rum and raisin icecream. Our plan for tomorrow is to visit the Loire valley wine region, about 200 km away, so it will be another early start and a long day.