We spent the weekend in and around Cholet. There is an oriental garden there that you can visit in the evening so we decided to stay the Saturday night. The drive down in the morning was uneventful, stopping off at a McDonalds for a much-needed coffee when we got off the motorway. Mac's is the only place I have found in France that makes a reliably good cappuccino.
On to Cholet town centre that was modern, French and functional, with
lunch in an excellent seafood restaurant off the main square. Strongly
recommended, called "L'écailler" should you ever find yourself in Cholet
and in want of a lunch. You wouldn't look twice at it walking past but
the food was excellent. 18 euros a head for 2 courses, plus a glass of wine
for both of us, coffee for me and a crème brulée for Anita.
The gardens open in the afternoon. I can sometimes find oriental
gardens to be a bit over-fussy, too manicured, leaving me feeling
constrained and frustrated. Not this one. Many wonderful vistas along a
watercourse, designed to reflect the stages of a person's life. Here's some pictures.
I also liked the way you could buy an annual ticket for 27 euros - ideal for locals.
At some time, lack of energy, health or finance might mean I will one
day be living without a garden of my own, and a season ticket like that
seems to me to be an ideal way of enjoying a garden without the effort.
After the afternoon opening, you can come back later on in the evening
at dusk for a night-time visit. To kill the time we soaked up the local
French culture and got deeper into the oriental atmosphere with an
all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet and karaoke at the Panda Wok. But the
late visit was very worthwhile, the atmosphere in the garden is
completely different, quite serene. We were all given little Chinese lanterns to walk
around with, to light the way, and haiku poems were posted around to give us something
to think about. And Venus was amazingly bright (see