A Travellerspoint blog

July 2007

Château d' Azay-le-Rideau

sunny 20 °C

After leaving Villandry we drove over to another nearby village to visit Château d' Azay-le-Rideau, completed in 1527 and built on a small island near the banks of the Indre River with its foundation rising straight out of the water. Here's an aerial shot to show how it sits in the river.

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After floating back down to earth, we parked the car in a VERY crowded lot about a half mile away from the chateau and walked through a portion of the village. This fellow caught my eye as he lay sprawled on the front step of what is perhaps his master's or mistresses' shop, looking relaxed and unconcerned with tourists streaming past.

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But first, our stomachs were ready for lunch so we decided to enjoy a midday repast at this restaurant/cafe not far from the entrance to the chateau. The restaurant portion is inside the ivy-covered building, while a nice outdoor cafe is underneath the trees and umbrellas you see in the photo below.

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We opted to dine in the outdoor cafe to take advantage of the beautiful day and nice weather. After I took a couple of pictures of Cindy and her mom at the table, a woman seated at a table behind us offered to take a picture of all of us.

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After a very enjoyable lunch, we left the cafe and walked about a quarter-mile to the entrance of Château d' Azay-le-Rideau.

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Here, Cindy and her mom stand at the entrance, listening to the audio guides that help you learn the rich history of the chateau.

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This is from the courtyard looking to the right side of the chateau.

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And this is from the bridge (see aerial shot) looking back toward the courtyard and chateau.

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One of many bedrooms in the chateau.
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Here, Cindy and her mom are in one of the rooms where the lord of the chateau would hold court or entertain honored guests.

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One of many beautiful fireplaces throughout the chateau.
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Here is a view of the courtyard from the third floor.

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All too soon it was time to take our leave of Château d' Azay-le-Rideau and return to our cottage so we could begin packing everything up in preparation for our departure early the next morning. Later in the evening we drove into Loches for dinner, then returned to the cottage and retired for the night. Our time in France would come to an end the next day when we boarded our flight to return to the U.S., but we had two weeks of photos, videos, and wonderful memories to bring home with us.

We hope you've enjoyed traveling with us by way of this blog and thank you for reading along.

Au revoir!!

Posted by WorldQuest 06:10 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

Château de Villandry

sunny 20 °C

Friday morning; our last full day in the French countryside, indeed in the country of France itself. I find myself torn between the desire to find a way to remain in this beautiful country and the desire to return home to the U.S. I am glad that Cindy and I decided to do the whirlwind tour of Paris during the first week and spend the second week at a more relaxed pace here in the Loire Valley, where it has been peaceful, calming and restful.

We have scheduled our final 2 chateaus to visit for this day, since they are within a very short driving distance of each other. We still need to get an early start and make sure that we leave early enough to arrive at the first stop just as it is opening to the public. This is a plan that has worked well at the other chateaus we have visited, as the tour buses typically start arriving about an hour after opening, so we get a head start on beating the crowds that will swarm in later.

Château de Villandry was completed back in 1536 and was the last of the chateaus built in the Loire Valley during the Renaissance.

Here's an aerial shot of the estate.

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And a video of when we first arrived.

Cindy and her mom in the courtyard.
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One of many dining rooms.

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Cindy and her mom looking out a second floor room of the chateau to part of the garden.

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One of many bedrooms.
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Those winding staircases that seem to be in every building ever constructed in France.

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Up on the roof there was cat. We assume it walked up the stairs as there didn't appear to be any other way for it to get there.

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Looking out over part of the gardens.

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Looking back and down to the courtyard.
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What is it they say about cats and curiosity?

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Our feline friend up on the edge of the battlements on the roof. Thankfully she never indulged her apparent desire to try and leap to the next roof and instead let me take her down off the edge and carry her over to the stairs where she walked down to the first floor.

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Down off the roof and on one of the walkways that overlooks the gardens, Cindy and her mom pose for a picture.

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Looks like we accidentally took a picture of some homeless guy.

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Cindy and her mom walking through the tree-lined path.

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Here's a shot from the middle of the garden looking toward the castle. The black arrow is pointing to where we stood on the roof earlier.

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Cindy and her mom walking through the grape arbor.

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Walking down one of the stone stairways in the garden.

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A shot from the far end of the garden looking back to the castle.

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I had so much fun with my new camera. Here is just one of dozens of shots I took with birds, bees and butterflies flitting or landing on the flowers in this beautiful garden. Look at the detail and how you can see the bee pollinating the flower!

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Cindy and her mom at the "wall of roses".

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As we were leaving, I took this shot of the castle with the sun peeking over the top.

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As we were leaving crowds were arriving and gathering around the area which served as an entrance and exit. Cindy and her mom wanted to stop into the gift shop (which was, of course conveniently located by the exit) and I decided to use the opportunity to avail myself of the restroom facilities. I walked into the men's room and, taking note that there were no urinals on the wall, stepped into a stall and closed the door. Once again, I was struck by the differences in French toilets, as this one had no seat to sit on. Fortunately, I didn't need to sit. I could hear female voices in the restroom and assumed as I was in a unisex bathroom. I had heard of them but had not been in one as of yet. I finished my "business" and stepped out of the stall and stepped to the sink to wash my hands, only to find several women staring at me. It then hit me that it wasn't a unisex bathroom, it was the ladies bathroom. I washed my hands quickly and got out of there as fast as I could, walking past the entrance to the men's room that I had missed right next door.

By now it was about 11am. We left to drive to the next village to see our final castle of our French adventure.

Next post: Château d' Azay-le-Rideau

Posted by WorldQuest 13:13 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (3)

Château de Chambord

NOT the French Black Raspberry Liqueur in the Pretty Bottle

overcast 20 °C

Thursday morning as we prepared to leave the cottage, Cindy's mom discovered she was not feeling well and decided she would remain at the cottage recuperating rather than go to Château de Chambord with us. I was a little uneasy about leaving her alone while Cindy and I were 90 minutes away, so we left one of our cell phones with her and called a few times while we were gone to check in on her.

So much so that she probably got tired of us calling her, lol.

Chambord is the largest of the Loire Valley castles, but it was never more than a hunting lodge. King François I (remember him from Château de Amboise?) built the castle in the style of French Renaissance architecture that blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Italian structures and design input by the great Leonardo da Vinci.

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Riders display their equine skills around the castle and in special shows each day.

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Cindy in front of Château de Chambord.

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Leonardo da Vinci designed this very special staircase in the shape of what we recognize today as the double-helix of human DNA. The fact that it is double allows you to see someone else on the other staircase, but without ever meeting him. Some speculate that this allowed the king to go up and down without meeting his servants.

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Looking up the inside of the double staircase.

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Cindy and I, each on a different staircase, taking photos of each other.

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One of the outside courtyards.

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Water drain spouts shaped like gargoyles.

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Intricate ceiling design in one of the hallways. Aren't you glad you didn't have to dust that?

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Here we are on the uppermost floor after walking up the spiral staircase.

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Looking out over the grounds and the hunting forest.

Cindy with the horse field in the background.

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Cindy with the hunting grounds in the background.

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Walking back downstairs in another section of the castle, we found the room where they bring parts of the castle that are deteriorating from age and weather and attempt to restore them. It was a pretty cool section and I'm still not entirely sure we were supposed to be there, but it was fun to see.

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As we were leaving I spotted another drain spout on the ground floor with the gargoyle design.

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After leaving the castle, we enjoyed a nice lunch at an outdoor cafe at the entrance and did a little shopping at the outdoor market that was also nearby.

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I couldn't leave without taking a giant leap into the air above the castle to get this aerial shot.

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We drove back to the cottage to find Cindy's mom feeling much better and enjoyed a nice dinner out later in the evening.

Next post: Château de Villandry and Château d' Azay-le-Rideau

Posted by WorldQuest 18:46 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

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