Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Lovely Loire Valley, France

15th July 2009 (continued)
We were greeted by Rene and Terry who were the most loveliest people ever! Not to mention the house and rooms: Gorgeous! Lauren and I headed out for a walk around the small town and it was so pretty and peaceful. I think there were a total of 2 restaurants (the expensive one, and the not so expensive one), a bakery, pharmacy and church. Not big at all, but I think I could definitely live there. I would have my own garden and grow all my own fruit + vegies and even get Terry and Rene to build me a swing, just like theirs! hehe. It would be so Belle.

Walking in the town...

A gorgeous French house

That night we had sparkling wine infused with raspberry (me), violet (Lauren) and peach (Nicole). We then had the most delish dinner ever made. 5 courses with things like orange chicken, vegetable terrine, vanilla + ice cream pudding and of course a fine selection of cheese. Oh how I love cheese. I was so full by the second course, but it was all so good that I continued to eat and ended up eating everything!

If you EVER go to the Loire Valley in France, you must MUST stay at Le Petit Clos! And then look for our entry in the guest book!

16th July 2009

After having a great nights sleep on an awesome bed, breakfast is served. Homemade French toast, homemade yoghurt, fruit, croissants, bread, pastries and coffee. What a mouthfull! After breakfast we recieved directions to our first destination: Chateau Chenonceau. Today it was Nicole's turn to drive! We headed out towards the chateau and Nicole drove perfectly down the windy French country roads, even manuvering around the dreaded round-a-bouts, which turned out to be not so bad in the end. After seeing the sign for the chateau behind a tree and turning around to go down the road, we parked the car and walked up towards the chateau. As it turned out, we actually parked on the wrong side and where we were was an exit. We were told we needed to walk 1km to the bridge, cross the bridge and then walk down to the entry. It was 40 degrees and I just wanted to go inside. Grr! So we walked the 1km to the bridge, crossed it, and then walked the 1km back towards the entry. We ended up walking through what seemed like someones field, past some carni's setting up the dodgems til eventually we found the correct entry. Walking through the tower of trees towards the chateau was amazing.

Walking through the tall trees...

Before we made it to the chateau, we went to the Maze! Nicole and I were singing "we're painting the roses red" and as we were leaving had a race out of the maze. I lost :(

The Maze

The entry to Chenonceau was breathtaking. Everything seemed so perfect. All the gardens were in immaculate condition. I just wanted to pick one of the flowers and stick it in my hair, but I resisted the urge.

First impressions

One of the gardens...

Standing infront of my new home

Chateau de Chenonceau is 'the ladies chateau' and has been home to Diane de Poiters, Catherine de' Medici, Louise of Lorraine, Louise Dupin, Marguerite Pelouze and Simone Menier. I think I should have my name to this chateau as well! We had a look around and inside was just as nice, although it was not fully furnished. We then had something to eat in the Tea Gardens and then we were off to our next stop: Chateau Du Clos Lucé.

Clos Lucé is a mansion in Amboise (connected to the Château d'Amboise by an underground passage) where Leonardo da Vinci was invited to live by Francis I and settled in 1516. He lived there for the last three years of his life, and died there on 2 May 1519.

Chateau Du Clos Lucé

We then walked up the street passed some houses built into rocks to Château d'Amboise. Here in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert adjoining the Château, Leonardo da Vinci is buried.

Houses within the rocks

Leo's grave

Saint Hubert Chapel

King Henry the II Chamber

Why are the beds so short you ask? Well it wasn't until we went to Castle Cheverny that we found out that at that time, people slept sitting up as the lying down position was reserved for the dead, and also they were afraid of swallowing their tongues.

The Chateau overlooking the town below

17th July 2009

Again it was my turn to drive, and what a day to drive! It was raining, and I think we were all wearing thongs. Well, at least our feet got a mud bath! After our lovely breakfast, we hopped in the car and I drove us to Chambord. This place was HUGE and by far my favourite of the chateaus. It had this awesome dual spiral staircase! I was on the other staircase and Nicole and Lauren on the otherside. It was pretty neat. We then ate some delicious onion soup - I must say I had a few doubts about ordering, but I am glad I did. Bonus points for the fact that it comes with cheese!

Me out the front of Chambord, my other home!

If you look hard enough, I am standing with Nicole on the footpath!

Check out the creepy guy in the back!

Nicole and Lauren on the other side of the spiral staircase

Overlooking our kingdom - hehe!

Next on the to do list was Castle Cheverny. Tintin anyone? Herge, the author of Tintin used Cheverny as inspiration for Marlingspike Hall! How cool is that. The interior was to die for and I actually took pictures of things that I will one day get Chris to make me.

Castle Cheverny

One of the tables I WILL get Chris to make me

Guess who?

That night we went to dinner at the local restaurant (the not so expensive one) which was a short 2min walk for the B&B. The meal wasn't THAT great. Nicole and I had fish which was very dry and Lauren had ordered organ meat by mistake - yup, ew! But we had cheese and red wine from Cheverny so it was all good in the end.


18th July 2009

Our last wonderful breakfast (that Lauren threw up as she ate too much) at Le Petit Clos. We packed our bags and jumped in the car and headed towards Charles De Gaulle airport were we needed to drop off the car. WHY did we choose Charles de Gualle you ask? I don't know. But it was the furthest airport we could possibly go to. Anyway, it was Nicole's turn to drive again and we were doing fine with directions until one turn off. We ended up in Antony, which we weren't supposed to, so we turned around and got back on the A6. However, we didn't realise we were going in the wrong direction until about 20mins later! We pulled up at a service station to ask for directions, but no one spoke English so we bought a French street directory. After figuring out where we were and turning around, we were back on track. Even though I get sick if I read, look down or even breath wrong in the car, I managed to direct the way back towards the airport. It was tense, but we stuck it out and everything worked out in the end.

At Le Petit Clos: Our final breakfast *tear*

To be continued...

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