|The Loire at Amboise|
Some videos from our recent visit.
Our trip to the nearby Château de Cheverny was hijacked at the very beginning by the howling of dogs. Apparently a feature of the Château, they were five minutes from being fed when we arrived.
|Clare and myself at the Château de Cheverny|
Another famous château we drove to was Amboise. This time we didn't enter, instead walking the back streets of the town and the banks of the Loire.
Amboise is really two towns. Right next to the château - what you see in the video - it's a bustling tourist centre of bars and cafes; walk a few hundred metres and it's the usual hot, sleepy, depopulated small town typical of the Loire valley .. and of rural France in general.
And no, I have no special interest in that guy in the white shirt!
Our gite (see below) was a few kilometres to the south of Blois. We had intended to walk around the famous Château de Blois, but failed to find the entrance (!). Our afternoon was perhaps more productively used walking the banks of the Loire and around the old town and cathedral.
Was there ever a more impressive château than Chambord? It's everything you could want of a fairy-tale castle. High walls, ornate carvings, formal gardens and a moat/canal receding into the distance.
|The Château de Chambord|
The cafe is in the inner courtyard, tucked behind the outer walls and next to the high, cylindrical towers of the chateau. On the day we were there, the wind was at a certain angle and intensity so that we observed the phenomenon of vortex-shedding: sudden gusts of turbulence off the towers which could blow a cardigan off the back of a chair, or a coffee cup off the table.
Now it's time to show you the downstairs of our gite, Les Nymphéas. I'd say it was a mid-range property, perfectly adequate for the three of us.
If I were being negative I'd point to the rather tired decor and the slightly rickety state of some of the electrical items. But on the plus side, it was comfortable, spacious and convenient for the local sights.
I reserve my scorn for the Intermarché, a chain of supermarkets which achieves the near impossible of making the Co-op look good. The one at Mont-près-Chambord is completely typical.
This is one of my favourite videos. We had a local château, Villesavin, just a few kilometres south-east of Les Nymphéas, our gite. If you visit do take in the guided tour of the kitchens, which is additional to the self-guided exploration of the rest of the apartments. There are also some short, pleasant walks in the wood.
And then there is the dovecote shown in the above video.
The Château de Villesavin also had an exhibition, "The Treasures of Marriage", which Clare narrates in the following piece.
There were additional very well-done tableaux in the adjoining corridor.
I'll leave you with the baignade naturelle Mont-près-Chambord.
After 'Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe' (Manet, 1863)
When I researched Mont-près-Chambord, I had noted this public, open-air swimming centre and had rejected it as a piece of dried-out scrubland. But our gite-proprietor, M. Cormier, recommended it - and on a hot day we drove the few kilometres to take a look.
In best French tradition, the swimming pool was closed and locked up, with no indication it was ever open. The adjacent fence showed signs of abuse .. it was where the locals effected an entrance.
|Here is where the locals get in|
But we're too old for that sort of thing.
We hunkered down in the park outside, which was fine for those on throws and towels; less good for those who had to sit on the spiky stalks of mown grass!
What did we bring back from our holiday?
Well, you know, experiences .. memories .. dirty washing ... and this:
Clare's title for this picture was "A Thing of Beauty" which she claimed as a triple pun.