Montmorillon, Town of the written word, and the kindness of strangers.

Montmorillon

Funny old day this one. We’d decided not to set off too early, as we couldn’t access the chateau we were staying in until 4.00pm, so we were just having a quick sweep round with the hoover, when a large black plastic tank appeared in front of the kitchen window on the back of a flat-bed trailer. Typically, the chap we have engaged to put in our new fosse had arrived to commence work, thinking we arrived back today, rather than left today. No matter, he is set to return soon to start the job but it gave us quite the start to our little holiday!

Car loaded up, and away we went, having decided to stop off at Montmorillon on the way. Also known as the Town of the written word, this picturesque medieval town is crammed to the gills with book shops, many with their own specialities, from Erotica to Sci Fi, from kids books to gastronomy, it’s all here. There were shops selling calligraphy supplies, artwork and pottery, and a beautiful 11th century church which was under restoration so sadly, we couldn’t go inside. We arrived in the 12-2.00pm dead zone where everything was closed for lunch, but this did afford us the privilege of being able to wander the narrow cobbled streets alone, with just the sounds of laughter and the occasional clink of glassware from a bustling riverside restaurant.

The bridge itself gives you a fantastic panoramic view, and there is a rose garden and a typewriter museum which reminded me of an episode of Alan Partridge where he mentions Longstanton Spice museum…… As you meander, there are ceramic tiles set amongst the cobbles depicting a Jack of Hearts, the emblem of Etienne de Vignolles, a loyal knight who served Jeanne d’Arc and fought alongside her at Orleans. He is also referred to as La Hire, and the Jack of Hearts is still referred to by this nickname today. You can follow these to do a tourist trail if you so desire.

The Jack of Hearts

Unexpectedly, we also had an excellent curry in the town square. Always embrace a good paneer masala in France when one presents itself (which is pretty much never!). Then back on the road with still a good chunk of our journey still ahead of us.

One of the many specialist shops

We have a fully electric car, and this is the first time we’ve driven it a sizeable distance. Usually we charge at home, and as our car has a 450km radius, it’s rare that we charge it more than once or twice a month. So, knowing we had a full charge, and we needed to travel about 370km, we thought we’d be fine, until we could plug in at Puy du Fou the next morning. As we started to get closer to destination, our once healthy KM difference began to diverge. Where we should have had plenty of km to spare on arrival, we were starting to lose them at a slightly alarming rate. We didn’t want to risk running out of power, so we looked up our closest charging point, and pulled off into the services. There was a wall of electric charging points, but we’ve never had to charge away from home before, so we started to figure it out. They had inbuilt charging cables, one rapid charge, one less so. We plugged in the rapid charge cable, scanned the QR code on the machine, paid, and awaited the car to commence charging. Despite initially saying it was connected, the cable couldn’t seem to talk to the car. We disconnected it, and plugged in the slower charging cable, which after several attempts, and continuing to input our payment details several times, did begin to work. It was incredibly slow however, and to have made a significant difference would have meant being there for hours. Then a gentlemen that was charging his Tesla alongside our car told us to move our car over to one of the other different charging devices and explained it would be much better for our car. We dutifully thanked him, and re-connected our car. Try as we might we had the same problem, with the cable/payment meaning the cable wouldn’t connect and commence charging. This kindly chap, dutifully swiped his pre-registered card, and charging commenced as if by magic. It was the equivalent of him paying for our petrol. We had to beg him to take 20 euros from us which he kept refusing, but what a generous thing for him to to do. With the rapid charger we were away within about 20 minutes and with way over 50% of the battery charged, allowing for our onward journey without any more concerns. Isn’t it nice to have your faith in human nature restored!

Next time, our first ever night in a chateaux.

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