Loire Valley And A Chateau Or Two.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Where I stayed
Hotel La Sauldraie Salbris
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of France  , Centre,
Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Travelling through the Loire Valley, you have to close your eyes to modern day traffic and conveniences and then you can transport yourself to a truly remarkable and elegant era of the 15th century when the French Aristocrats had their country getaway perched on a hill in this gorgeous valley.
Lovely woods surround the chateaux (plural for chateau) with wide gravel paths leading to no nonsense iron gates and even sometimes a moat. Gnarled Grape vines are in the cleared areas and at this time of year, hang heavy with purple fruit. You can just imagine an elegant carriage, pulled by handsome well bred horses sweeping down the path bringing the upper class French to their chateau for the Summer months.The Italian, Leonardo da Vinci even had a hand in decorating and adding his inventions for the rich. His final resting place is Amboise in the Loire Valley.

We spent a full day visiting these elegant French masterpieces with astounding and extravagant architecture. As we drove along it became an exercise in chateau spotting. They pepper the countryside in all shapes and sizes, some still lived in, and some now turned over to the tourism market to be swooned over. We stopped at some to see inside but mostly we viewed and photographed from afar. 

We viewed our last chateau at 7.00pm then set about finding a bed for the night which proved extremely difficult. At each village we came to, we asked and all accommodation was full. Finally around 8.30pm we followed a sign and found the most wonderful accommodation and French dining experience. The hotel had one room left and were serving dinner still. Not just any dinner mind you. We had stumbled on to a hotel owned by (we surmised) a very famous retired chef (Chef Benoit) and we got the impression that most of the other diners had come particularly for his set menu with wine (degustation menu). Tired from a long day of travelling and bickering (yes, driving and navigating in France makes us bicker!) we perked up for our French dining experience. Fortunately we had a camera with us to record the meal so, take our word for it, it was amazing.

After a good night sleep we got on the road again and arrived at our next sightseeing city of Bourges. Here we saw the magnificent Saint-Etienne Gothic Cathedral, built between 1195 and 1199. The surrounding old city comprises buildings from the 15th century that are still in use today as shops and houses.

On the road again, and we are quite excited as we are now heading South and towards the little village of Pensol where we are to re-unite with our good friends Phil and Linda and take a mini break from travelling long kilometres every day.   

Footnote: The Loire Valley between Sully-Sur-Loire and Chalonnes and Bourges Cathedral are UNESCO World Heritage listed. 
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