Our Family

Our Family

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Chenonceau, You are so Beautiful

After two busy, eventful days at the tour, we wanted something that we could do just for the afternoon.  We decided on Chenonceau, a chateau on the Cher River.  Another quick trip from our gite, we were there in a couple of hours. 

According to Rick Steves, Chenonceau was rated 3 triangles (out of three) and was the only one rated so high, so we were super excited to get there.  If Amboise was only 1 triangle, and Chenonceau was 3, we were sure it would be beautiful.

We spent a leisurely morning at home, enjoying croissants and coffee then headed to chenonceau late morning.  

On the way, we saw a tree farm.  I was obsessed with these little farms.  They were trees all lined up in rows.  We finally asked what they were after seeing them everywhere.  They are tree farms that they use to make matches.  They were seriously all lined up in rows.  I just LOVE rows of trees. 
Onto Chenonceau, let me just tell you, the pictures won't do it justice, it was simply breathtaking.  Some quick history for you, Chenonceau is the beaut of the Loire.  The 16th-century palace was built over the Cher River.  As the third most visited chateau in France, this one was built for pleasure, not for defensive purposes.   It was nicknamed "the chateau of the ladies."  Diane de Poitiers,  King Henry II's mistress, added the arched bridge over the Cher.  Catherine de Medicis, King Henry II's wife, kicked Diane out and added the 3-story structure over the bridge.  Catherine turned Chenonceau into the place to see and be seen by the aristocrats of the time. 

Also on the grounds of the chateau is a wax museum with clothing and figures of the time, beautiful gardens and cafe/restaurant.  So the pictures don't do it justice, like I said earlier, but here they are.  The place was really just spectacular. 

 The tree lined walkway leading up the chateau.  I love tree lined roads or sidewalks.   Look how the sun just comes through the trees.  I'm already hooked and we haven't even seen the palace.
 On the walkway up to the chateau, there was a little area on the side with a bush maze.  Dad and Ange were playing around in the maze.
 They made it to the center of the maze.
 I made it too.  At the arbor in the center of the maze.
 Ange playing around again.
 Ange had the camera, at some columns at the end of the maze.
 Dad kicked our butt getting out of the maze.  He's checking his watch to see how long it took us to get out.
 Da, da-da, daaaa (sung like a prince entering).  Such a beautiful palace.
 The chateau was rebuilt in the 16th century and this mill was the only thing kept from the original building.
 Enjoying the view over the river.
 Look at this flower.  It's crazy.  I've never seen anything so unique.  The rooms were filled with all sorts of beautiful flowers.  The windows were open and the flowers smelled so good.  In the winter, all the fireplaces have fires.  The palace still smelled of burning wood.
 Overlooking the addition by Catherine above the arched bridge over the Cher River.
 On a balcony overlooking one of the gardens.
 Dad and Kelly.
 The chapel in the chateau.
In the huge kitchen.
 Look at that fireplace.  Imagine that lit and used for heating the chateau in the winter.  That'd be a big fire!
From the garden, looking at the chateau.
 One of the gardens.
 Underneath a vine of grapes on the river.
 Another tree lined road.  You know how I love them.
 An artistic shot of the mill with a beautiful flower.
 The lavender was so fragrant.
 Getting some shade.  This was probably the hottest day, at about 85 degrees, while we were in France.
 The cafe.
 Andrew entering the wax museum.  The glass doors slammed shut after you put in your ticket, so he didn't want to get caught so he ran through them.  That, or he was super excited to see the wax figures. :o)
 An open window in the wax museum.
 Dad looking at the figures.
 Taking a break after the wax museum.
 Look at those beautiful hydrangeas.  The flowers there were incredible.
 There was a huge vegetable garden.  These were all the peppers.  It made me really excited to get home and check on my garden.

Blois, Blois, Blois

After Chenonceau, we headed to Blois (said Blah-reread the title just above again).  So, now you know how we feel about Blois--blah, blah, blah.  Similar to Vouvray, Blois was kind of a waste of time. 

With 47,000 people, Blois was one of the bigger cities we saw.  The chateau towered right over the center of town and was pretty impressive.  We went to a cafe and had a drink then headed out because we were not very impressed.  While in Blois, we experienced your stereotypical French person.  For the most part, most French people were pretty nice about us trying to speak French and talk with them.  Well, not in Blois.  The waiter wanted nothing to do with us and was very rude as we tried to be nice and order in French.  Our French is not very good, I'll be the first to admit it, but we tried, that's all you can ask for right?!?  We had our cocktails, then headed out.  We were tired, hot and hungry, and probably shouldn't have stopped here--but we did, so here are a couple of pictures.

The Chateau in the center of town.
 Stairs leading up to the chateau.
 Taking a break on our walk in Blois.

That concludes our day in Chenonceau (and Blois).  Overall, it was simply beautiful and I would recommend it to anyone traveling in the Loire Valley.  

Next up: Wine Tasting

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