Monthly Archives: October 2010

My, what big houses you have!

So we headed off from the sleepy towns of Beynac, Sarlat and the town above, La Roque (the rock – notice where the town is built into the hill), and made our way to visit a few chateaus we had read about in our guide book.    We chose three chateaus to visit – Chenonceau, Chambord and Cheverny.

This is Chenonceau.  It used to belong to King Henry II’s mistress and when he died, his irritated wife, Queen Catherine de Medici kicked the mistress out and took over residency, adding beautiful gardens and the hall that you see extending over the water and into the hunting grounds.  The great hall was used during the war as a make-shift hospital for wounded soldiers who would fish out of the windows while laying in their beds.  Good story, tell it again!

Catherine’s Gardens

Obviously, I loved this chair/wallpaper combo.  This was a reading room in the castle.

Look at this stove!  Downstairs in the maids’ quarters.  All cooking was done downstairs and brought up for service.  All the copper are original pieces from the 1500s

The king’s quarters.  I love the light streaming in.

Did a funky effect to this but it kinda grew on me.  This was the path from the castle back to the parking lot.

We moved on from seeing Chenonceau to the lovely town of Amboise.  Amboise is a pretty little town with a huge castle in the center of town.  This castle was designed with the help of Da Vinci.  Yeah.

We stopped for dinner at a fun place that specialized in various crepes and galettes, both savory and sweet.  So for the main, we got a galette (a buckwheat thin pancake) filled with ham, cheese, onions and cream sauce:

And the town specialized in cider, so of course,

One of our favorite dishes over the two weeks: a crepe with salted caramel sauce and fresh whipped cream.

One of my favorite things about our trip was the places we stayed.  In Amboise, we stayed in a hotel called La Blason – it was a girls’ boarding school in 1400!  1400!  I can’t believe how old that is and that girls were actually in school.  This was the hallway – kinda creeps, but very cool.

And before we left, we had to stop by Bigot – a wonderful chocolate shop that also had mondo sized macaroons.  Heaven!  We got a pistachio filled with pistachio cream and a caramel filled with fleur de sel caramel cream.  Holy Moly.

Hey fleur de sel caramel macaroon.  Wanna make out?

We headed to Chambord – THE most intense, impressive castle EVER.  440 rooms!  Every single room had a chimney, no matter how small the room, belonging to king or maid.  It was incredible.  Just look at that skyline!

In the center of the castle is a masterfully crafted double-winding staircase.  So the people going up never pass the people going down.  It was mind-boggling.

Looking up the staircase center:

The outside of the staircase (one of about 4 just like it!)

Okay, TONS of pics of this place, but boring to those who weren’t there, so we move on to the last chateau on the tour, Cheverny.  What’s cool about this place is that it’s the most decorated inside AND the family STILL lives on the third floor!  Also, there are 70 hunting dogs that get fed at 5p.m. every afternoon and it’s crazy to witness.  Video posted below!

inside Cheverny’s immaculately decorated interior.  Pretty sure no one else can say their grandfather’s portrait was done by RENOIR!  What?  I know.

The meat for the dogs

The doggies waiting for their tasty steak dinner
The chaos ensues.

That night we drove on to Mont St. Michele.  We got to our crazy hotel pretty late, our hostess wasn’t pleased and said, “Je tres fatigue”  Yeah, so are we, missy.  Anyway, we checked in and drove down to Mont St. Michele where we took some night shots of this incredible place.  Why this isn’t a Wonder of the World, I will never know.  They first started building the original chapel in 800, and slowly added on over the next 400 years.  It became a Mecca of sorts and was used as a hub for pilgrims coming from surrounding countries.  It’s a chapel, but has turned into a small city with hotels, restaurants, streets, shops, all stacked up the hill and below the old chapel.  We wandered around and really enjoyed the history and the architecture and just the sheer age of this thing.  Definitely one of my favorite stops on our trip.

Mont St. Michele at night.

The view from our hotel, about a mile away

sorry, I can’t get enough of this place.  It was cloudy and windy during the day we went up and I thought it added to the magic and charm.

Inside one of the sanctuaries.  There was a sign that said, “light a candle for someone you are praying for”  So naturally, I lit one for my Case.

on the way up

heading up to the main church

someone praying

one of my favorite shots.  At the very top of the chapel there was a garden and these columns surrounded it.  This is peering inside.

I am going to skip posting about one of the worst meals I had in France.  The pics will be up on Facebook later and I’m sure you’ll see it (it will be at the end of the set.)

Up next: Normandy beaches and Honfleur!


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