We got up early today as Chambord (which is in the Loire Valley) is a 4 hour drive on the fast road from Cognac. We skipped breakfast and were off by 9 am. A very early start for us. I walked to the free parking lot, got some cash from the ATM on the way and then proceeded to take about 15 minutes to get back to the hotel. 5 minute walk 15 minute drive. Thank you one way streets, but I got there on my own with out Jerry’s navigation skills. We loaded up the car and were off. It was a very uneventful drive, drove through much farm land 45 minutes on a slow road to get to the AutoRoute then just drove fast 150 km an hour average. We ate on the fly stopping at a rest area (in Chicago they are gas plazas) in Oregon they are Truck stops. Stopped one more time for gas and where in Chambord by 1:30 make great time and gave us hours to tour the chateaux.
Our hotel for the night is on the grounds of the Chateaux de Chambord, I mean it is literally a stones through from the
entrance. We checked in, but not with out having a small issue, which in no way reflects on the hotel, but does reflect on Booking.com. The booking.com website said that all rooms have a view of the chateaux, great a two star hotel with a view of the largest chateaux in the Loire valley (You have probably notice that I spell chateaux inconsistently, one is French one is American) sign me up. I checked in and they gave me the key to check the room out, It was more akin to the servant’s quarters than a room with a view. After we got our luggage in the room and Jerry agreed that it was not what we wanted, I went back to the front desk, and explained that the website said that all rooms have a view, many language issues later, we were given a room with an actual view of the chateaux, and Maria there is a bed just waiting for you, as it is a triple. (brief aside: As I blog this entry, Jerry is currently doing laundry in the sink, we simply don’t have the time to stop at a Laundromat and they don’t have a fluff
and fold, New Yorkers you know what I mean, in this village. Laundry has to be done as we are at the critical point of yes no underwear and I am not that French.) Ok where was I. The hotel while a 2 star, and I do understand why, could be so much more. It is the only hotel near the chateaux, it is the only restaurant near the chateaux, but it is only a two star, because it needs serious renovation. One comment on Trip advisor was that the rooms are tired, girl they aren’t tired they are exhausted. The entire hotel needs a 6 month trip to the Spa. This is my dream location for a hotel and restaurant (but all of my friends know that if I ever say I want to buy a hotel or motel etc, they are suppose to shoot me on the spot, Rockaway Beach is not forgotten). Any way, we ended up with a great room and a great view. The room wasn’t clean yet but they told us to storage our bags there as it would not interfere with the maids.
We stored our bags, and headed first for the
It spirals in both directions, there are actual two staircases in one.
stables, hoping to book a carriage ride through the estate. However, it was lunch time, might as well be siesta in Spain, and no one was at the stable booking desk. There was also a three bus tour of some sort having lunch in the shadows of the stables. While we waited for someone to show up, all I thought about is how Shari, my youngest sister, would be in heaven here in the stables. There were 8 beautiful horses, which you could rent and have free reign to ride over the entire 80 hectare estate (whatever a hectare is?) (Jerry is not hanging the laundry though out the room.)
We gave up on booking the carriage ride and headed to our self guided tour (well I did buy one audio tour) of the Chateaux. There is just to much to say, Architecturally it is a wonder, Jerry took so may pictures the camera battery almost gave out. He was in fact in architecture and design heaven. It was also very detailed, there was much period furniture, and if he was writing this he would go on for pages. All I can really say, is this:
is a must stop
2) Spend the night at the hotel, but be sure to request a room with a view, do not rely on any booking website to get you the best room, only the best priced room.
3) Give your self three hours for just the chateaux, much more if you want to ride horses, view the estate, etc.
4) Even though there is a great light show at night starting in June, avoid the crowds come in May, less crowed, but still a lot of tourist and school tours.
5) Once you have seen this chateau you probably don’t need to see any of the others in the Valley, but it is what the Loire is all about. First Real Wine Thirty
After spending 2 maybe 3 hours in the châteaux, and trust me after 1 and ½ hours I was overwhelmed, my mind shut down. It is like cathedrals, your brain can really only handle so much. We sat down to our first wine-thirty. There was a self sever bar next to our hotel, so our first bottle of wine was a Loire Valley Rose, at first taste, I must
say it tasted like a rosé beer, but later it tasted much better. The second bottle was a Sauvignon blanc. Both were nice and cold. We just sat at the tables and watched the tourist go by. And tourist, Chinese, Japanese, French, German, Russian, Polish, Italian, Spanish, USA, Israeli’s, I heard so many different languages my head was spinning.
After wine thirty, we went to the room and Jerry began the laundry, as previously stated. We are about ready to go down to dinner; this is being written contemporaneously but won’t be posted until tomorrow as there is no Wi-Fi here.
Dinner was very good but since I ordered sea food we had to make sure there were no clams in it. That proved to be more difficult. I said that I was allergic to clams in French and pointed to the word to make sure there was not misunderstanding. She assumed me that what I wanted had no clams, but then she came back pointed at what I didn’t ordered and asked if I was allergic to that. It was scallops and told her that no just clams were my problem, but that then tried to explain
that wasn’t what I ordered. I ended up being very confused about if my dish did or did not have clams and if she had the right order at all. Jerry finally went to the kitchen and everything I got straightened out, what I ordered did not have clams, all was well. I really need to learn French.
After dinner we walked the grounds and took some pictures then headed off to bed. Chambord is our one and only stop in the Loire Valley, unless we decide to make a visit to Chartres on our way back to Paris. Tomorrow we head to Normandy for two nights and two different cities. First stop Mont-St. Michel. TODAY’S EATS Lunch:
On the fly jamon and cheese baguettes while we drove. Dinner:
Jerry had: Entrée, Carpaccio of beets, yes beets, with a mescaline salad and goat cheese creamed cheese; Plat, Grilled pheasant with a wine sauce; Dessert, 3 chocolates, and truffle, macron and chocolate mousse. I had: Entrée, Wild boar in puff pastry; Plat, Crab Ravioli with Shrimp Scampi all in a butter cream sauce; Dessert, Chambord Soufflé glace with chocolate sauce (Very light vanilla ice cream with a
The entrance and mote
Is that how you spell mote? I don't have one, so I don't know.
Chambord sauce poured over it severed with a side of chocolate sauce).
We started with a Cocktail Chambord (Champagne and Chambord) and had a bottle of Cuvee Prestige, Bourgueil Domaine Des Chesnaies 2008. WINE THIRITY
Cuvée Prestige, Les Savandieres Rose de Loire, 2011
Sauvignon, Vin De Pay, Vale de Loire, 2010. RIEVIEWS: Chambord:
If you only have time for one chateau in the Loire Valley, make it this one. Plan a full day for the visit if you want to tour both the estate and the chateaux. Spend the night. Hotel Restaurant Le Grand St Michel:
A good 2 star hotel, that yes could use some serious updating, but great value and you can’t beat the location. Pay the extra Euros for a room with a view, and make sure to request it at time of booking, not matter how you book, directly or travel website. Parking is free. DAILY TIPS
Do your research on hotels; do not rely on hotels.com, booking.com, etc. to tell you everything you need to know. Booking.com said every room had a view, this is not true, you need to make sure you ask for a
Carriage of Henri V
It was never used and he never became king.
view. Check the hotel website out and Fodor’s (but Fodor’s does not do a good job updating their information even on their website.) If all else fails and you really want a certain room, don’t book on line unless it is directly with the hotel (even that can fail) instead call and suffer the language difference to get what you want.
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