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Published: June 29th 2013
I was sorry to leave Bordeaux. There seemed to be so much to see that was unavailable to us on this trip. An excuse for a return, if we needed one. Today would feature another 300km ride north, with a non-remarkable pit-stop or two, heading for Tours.
The Chateau Chenonceau straddles the Cher River, near the town of Chenonceaux, about 30km east of Tours. Dating to the 1400's, it was the private residence of a wealthy miller but over the course of history came into the possession of royalty. Cindy detailed some of the amusing, amorous escapades of some of the royals which led to various chatelaines and other occupants over the centuries. Simply put, it served as the personal residence of five French queens, including infamous Catherine de Medici, with whose affections one was best not to toy.
There is really no other word that fits in describing Chenonceau - beyond beautiful, spectacular and amazing, it is just stunning.
The palace is bracketed on the north bank of the Cher by three enormous, colourful gardens, with fountains and moats incorporated into the intricate landscaping. The gardens were blanketed with acres of spring flowers and colourful shrubbery, all started in greenhouses and nurseries on site. The gardens themselves are cloistered by deep forests.
The Chateau is ivory white. Protected on the north by several guard towers, it actually spans the entire Cher River, a distance, including moats, of over 600 yards. Its main hallway, “the Gallery” runs the full length of the structure and below it are six arches of varying size through which the river flows. Above the gallery are two floors of ballrooms, bedrooms, and whatnots. By purchase of admission to the grounds one is “free” to wander through much of the building, “free” being qualified by the press of human flesh that choke the rooms and passageways. Better to stay outside.
We enjoyed a leisurely lunch on a terrace, under the bright spring sunshine.
For dinner we headed to the town of Beaumont-en-Véron, about 30km west of Tours. Cindy had promised something special for Trafalgar’s “Be My Guest” supper and we were not disappointed.
Le Manoir de la Giraudiere is a 300 year old farm house that has been turned into an “Hotel de Charme” by its current owner. This woman, whose name I forget, originally bought the place with her husband to run as a farm. She greeted us on our arrival and her graciousness and warmth swept most off their feet. Tamara, who was celebrating her birthday this day, was the first but not the last to exclaim “I love this woman!”
After an aperitif on the terrace we were led to the dining room which appeared to be a renovated stable. It was cosy and charming. Our excellent main course was “osso bucco” and was created from products and livestock raised right on this farm. At dessert, Tamara was delighted with a chocolate torte topped by a sparkler, and renditions of “Happy Birthday” in French and English.
The men’s toilet was located beside a hay-filled manger. Great place – the hotel, not just the toilet.
We spent that night at the Mercure Tours Nord Hotel, in Tours.
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