Chateaux Charmants

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Europe » France
September 26th 2008
Published: June 26th 2017
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I have been without WiFi for five days now!!!!
On Monday we drove from Paris through Orleans to Blois. After lunch there and seeing the chateau from the outside we made our way to our beautiful small hotel on the Loire in a small village called St Dye. This was our base for the next 3 days. It has wonderful views and, more importantly a fabulous restaurant which is listed in Michelin!!
On Tuesday we drove to Chambord which is the largest chateaux in the Loire. It has over 400 rooms and dates from the 14th century. We toured through the castle which has some of the original rooms set up.Although it is huge, or maybe because of that it is more impersonal. After lunchin the gardens of Chambord, we went to Cheverny. This is a more intimate chateau as it has been a family home up until 20 years ago. It is set in large parklands and is beautifully furnished and presented.This was an inspiration for a castle in the Tin-Tin comics. Our final stop for the day was at Chenonceau. This is simply enchanting, a fairytale palace stretching over the river with two wonderful towers. Inside it is beautifully presented, with wonderful flower arrangements and the rooms set up as for the 16th century when Catherine of Medici lived here.One of the most interesting sections are the kitchens, complete with copper pots and pans. It was expanded when the chateau was used by the military as a hospital in WW1. The gardens are also lovely.

The second day in the Loire was just as interesting.
We set out after breakfast heading to Amboise, a town with its own Chateau Royal.
Stopped at a roadside "cave" for a taste of the local Touraine region wine. We chatted to the winemaker who spoke great English and offered us generous tasting. Bought a couple of his offerings. After a short look at Amboise we went on to Aze-le Rideau. This is a lovely castle on the Indre river with those very French round towers . It is again furnished and set up like a family home. It has pretty grounds with major water features.
After this we drove to Chateau Ussé. This is definitely a Fairy tale castle as it is supposed to have inspired the writer of Sleeping Beauty. They have the story displayed in the rooms of one of the towers using mannequins etc. Very effective, especially for children. The rest of the castle is also impressive as they show it as it was in the 1920s when the family lived there. It also has a beautiful French garden, well set out, overlooking the river. Very pretty.
Our final stop for the day was at Villandry. Here the gardens are the winner!! The castle itself is interesting and well presented but the gardens are stunning. There are over 10 hectares of garden. The chateua itself was completed in 1536 and has certainly been updated and renovated over the centuries. However, in 1906 the chateau was bought by a Joachim Carvallo whose passion was designing gardens and he set about restoring the park to its glory. There are very formal French gardens with intricate designs as well as a water garden, a herb garden and a kitchen garden which uses a number of vegetables and fruits in contrasting colours and patterns to make a magnificent display. We really enjoyed our stroll around there.
We went into Blois that night for a Pizza meal as we had had too much of a good thing!!!


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