For the first week of my trip, my firend Judy joined me in visiting 11 chateaux in the Loire. When (not if) you go to France, the Loire should be on your list of “must-sees”. The architecture is stunning and each chateau is unique in its own way whether it be the landscaping, the gardens, the interior design, or the architecture. On this trip (Judy’s first and my fifth to the Loire), we visited:
Chateau de Chenonceau
Chateau de Bourdaisiere
As well as:
Chateau de Valencay,Chateau Valmer, and Chateau d’Amboise
We didn’t count:
Chateau Nitray-we drove there but it was closed until June
Chateau de Blois-we stayed in the town but were chateau’d out by the end of our trip
Chateau whose name is unknown-we saw a beautiful one along the river but have no idea what it was called.
Chateau de Chantilly-after I dropped Judy off at the airport i went to see this Chateau where they filmed “A View To A Kill”, so in total, I saw 12!
On average we saw two chateaux a day and at Chenonceau and Chambord, two of the the most popular, we spent 5 hours at each. There was just so much to see. Besides doing a tour of the inside of the chateau, we oten spent a lot of time walking around the grounds. In the chateau we would get the audio tour and found the history fascinating. Many of the chateaux were built in the 1500s and are owned and maintained by the government. Few can afford to keep up these sites. There is so much to repair and maintain, including the magnificient gardens.
There are many unique experiences that many of the chateaux provide such as:
- renting bicycles, boats,golf carts
- taking a ride in a horse-drawn carriage
While most of the tours are in French, there are audio guides and printed English guides that can assist you. Sometimes the audio guide is extra (ie. 4 Euros) or included in the cost of the ticket (ranging from 7-12 Euros).
Even our first hotel, Le Manoir de Guepiere, located just NE of Amboise orginated in the 1500s however, it had been recently renovated. Poor Judy was severely allergic to mould (?) in the room, so after two nights she retreated to the games room to sleep and finallly got a few night’s sleep.
It was breakfast in this Manoir and the gite we stayed in in Blois (La Maison du Carrior) that overwhelmed us. I have always heard that the French do not each much breakfast; however, you would never know based on what we were served. Even the last morning, when we had to leave early, our hostess served use coffee, toasted brioche, little cakes, strawberries, fromage blanc and some other breakfast item that I can only describe as decadent. I think Judy said I was groaning. It was like whipped cdream with caramel in the bottom and sprinkles of brown sugar on top. For breakfast!!!
My next post will likely be about the unique features of some of the chateaux and possibly about the foods we devoured. Yes, we drank wine too.
I am now in Luxembourg gardens in Paris, having a picnic lunch. Many others are out doing the same. This is the life: true bliss!