Chateaux, Cheese & Napolean

Trip Start Jul 27, 2009
Trip End Aug 19, 2009

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Flag of France  , Centre,
Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In my last email I talked about our car, Napolean, but not too much about the highlights of the Loire Valley...  We visited the Chateau of Villandry which is actually more famous for its spectacular Gardens.  There was an Ornamental Garden portraying 4 different types of love (tender, passionate, fickle and tragic), the Water Garden, and the Sun Garden.  The Sun Garden had 2 areas, the 'Cloud Room' which had a blue and white colour theme and the 'Sun Room' in which the plants were predominantly yellow and orange.  The Aromatic Garden had an enormous array of the healthiest herbs I have ever seen and the Vegetable Garden dates to the Middle Ages when the Abbey Monks preferred to lay out their vegetables in geometric shapes.  Villandry was completed in 1536, the last of the great chateaux to be built on the banks of the Loire during the Renaissance period.

Also on the Thursday afternoon, we visited the Chateau D'Usse (C15-16), which is said to have inspired the French author Charles Perrault to write the fairytale 'Sleeping Beauty'.  It is very striking and set against a lush forest backdrop.  The Chateau D'Usse is still privately owned and inhabited - I'm not sure how its occupants find their way in and out through the hoards of tourists?!

The next day we visited another couple of Chateaux after leaving late morning (somebody didn't set the alarm properly...).  Pat explored Chateau de Chambord and I paid almost 50 Euro (AUD 100ish) for a salad, glass of wine and tea with lemon... Really, I was paying for the privilege of being able to use Pat's laptop with an uninterrupted view of Chambord!  

We visited Chateau de Chenonceau (C16) in the afternoon and were confronted by thousands of tourists, even at 4.30 Luckily by 6pm the crowds were starting to diminish (the Chateau opens until 8pm in Summer), allowing us to better appreciate its treasures.  In fact, sunset was at about 9.30pm, after which the sky retains serene blue/purple hue which seems to characterise European Summer.  I am struggling with the lack of sunlight on return to Melbourne!
On our last night in France, we had dinner at La Chanceliere in Montbazon, the village near our Chateau.  It was recommended by one of Yvonne's (our Travel Agent) clients but unfortunately the oyster ravioli is a winter speciality.  Nevertheless, the food was superb.
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