Leaving Amboise

Our last day and I’ll be sad to say goodbye to Steve as he leaves tomorrow.

Today we went to the BIG one – Chambord – a giant of a Chateau. Rather too large and certainly too cold. Even the owners – over the years a few kings and assorted relatives – decided to only spend a minimum of nights there. One said there were too many mozzies in summer and it was too cold in winter. Despite its beautiful grounds and imposing size I tend to agree.
We also visited Boise – a rather nice town on the river Loire further upstream from Amboise.
Then in the afternoon went to Cheverny – a modest , by comparison , chateau still owned by the same family. It’s rather beautiful and practical and I could imagine living there. Apparently the family still live on the upper level, but I think that’s a bit of a story as the place is open 365 days a year and they would never be able to escape the tourists or let their 3 children run around on the lawn. Again the gardens are lovely but with tourists all over it would be a little difficult to ride your bike around if you were a kid!

Our last evening, we visited Chantal, the owner of our little house, known as ” the little blue door”  anyone coming to this area I recommend you stay here. The views across the river to the castle are magic.

Tomorrow we are up early – for us , as we have been sleeping in till around 9 each day. I hope the Harrison’s are not going to rush out each day from our Paris flat before at least 10!

Keep the emails coming , as I like to get the news. 

From Amboise to Villandry

Wednesday and Thursday

We woke to rain but crossed our fingers and set off for Villandry. I was very keen to see it after hearing all about it from ADFAS and Margaret. The sun came out and we arrived at this beautiful chateau in a pretty little town. Most of the tourists have gone for the season so parking and entrance is easy. 

We started in the garden and walked and walked . The woods, formal gardens, herb and vegetable gardens and the maze all beautifully laid out. The plans for the veggies is at each garden square so you can easily identify what is growing . The colours and types are carefully set out making it so inviting to see. The veggies are used in the cafe at the side of the chateau which is a nice touch and the usual shop is also a treat as it’s a garden shop. 
Inside the chateau the story of the owners unfolded and as is usually the case an American inheritance helped set up the recovery of the chateau. It’s a good story and the family films of their family weddings etc give it a really personal touch. There were even family photos around which make it more a home. Wonderful experience
After our baguette we headed off to Chinon for another experience  this time a fortress. Very well done with a lot of short dramatisations which for me brought the history alive. These places area amazing in their history – the stories of kings queens, mistresses, illegitimate children all make great reading. Even a re-enactment of Joan of Arc’s visit to Chinon. 
We climbed all the towers and the veiws over the grey and white houses of the town and the green vineyards were the reward! I’d like a euro for all the steps climbed this holiday! Starting back in Lerici where we had 90 steps up to our apartment! (are you reading this Pat?). The steps are doing their bit to make sure I don’t completely turn to mush. And the knee is holding up! 
We got back to our little “blue door” house and prepared for dinner. Another coup de la champagne? 
More rain but we know it will clear so off we go to the chateau where Leonardo da Vinci spent his last 3 years.  It is a small  chateau with the most beautiful garden. His bedroom looks towards Amboise castle which is opposite our little house. 
Chenonceaux. Oh. What a fairy tale place. Long tree-lined walk towards the chateaux  which is perched over the water – looking like a hand or piano keys across the river. The gardens are magnificent and Francois 1 who had it built had fine taste. His 2 wives and mistress all had wonderful bedrooms and the kitchen staff must have loved their part of the house. 
What I have noticed in all the chateau are the flowers. They have the most wonderful  flower arrangements in all the rooms. I have found myself taking photos of the flowers more than the furnishings! They are all colours to suit the colours in the room. Catherine de Medici his second wife had a huge display of red roses in her rather red bedroom. Ginetta , you would love it.