|Another pretty easy ride today – a mere 32 kms, which enabled us to spend some time “chateauing”.
The first chateau we visited is one of the grandest in all of France: Chambord., a world heritage site – not bad for a hunting lodge! The chateau was enormous – 77 staircases and 282 fireplaces, and grounds that encompassed 5400 hectares. The chateau was envisioned by Francis I, but it was Henry II and Louis XIV who finished it. It is, not surprisingly, very symmetrical. Beautiful on the outside, but cavernous, cold and stark on the inside. It had a very unique double spiral staircase, which somewhat justified us having to pay twice the usual admission fee, since some idiot lost our first batch of tickets…. Was surprised that there were no Versailles like gardens – they have let almost all of the original gardens become overgrown.
Had a great picnic lunch, and then an easy ride into Blois (population 50,000). Once again the trail was well marked and paved for the most part. An interesting ride through a unique forest – it looked like something out of Lord of the Rings. We were on the lookout for wild boars, but Al was the wildest thing we encountered…. We also saw our first grapes out of the bottle – a series of very small vineyards between Chambord and Blois
We visited our second chateau in Blois – the Royal Chateau - home of 7 kings and 10 queens. “Unassuming” from the outside, but amazing on the inside. Was surprised to learn that this is where all the royalty stayed before the Louvre became more prominent. It would appear the Louvre was the Paris home, Blois was the country home, and Chamord was the hunting lodge….Likely the home of the soap opera of the 1600s – lots of love, intrigue and assassinations.
Our first choice for dinner was full, so we ended up at a brasserie called La Trouvaille (“The Treasure”) and soon became entrenched. Several bottles of wine later (another Cabernet France, but this time much more full bodied, and a dry white from Cheverny – Romorantin – never heard of it before – we got a bid adventurous and tried some interesting meals – sea bass, frog legs and escargot, tripe (yuck!), some kind of meat that could have been horse, although Bruce denies it.
All in all a very good day – lots of sun, our first two chateaus, and our first vineyards, Things I learned I wish I hadn’t – Judy’s Ipad is named “Precious”. Tragedy struck this evening, creating unparalleled trauma – Precious is locked in the safe, and a “malfunction” means Judy can’t have access until 8:00 a.m.
A few gems about Blois: In 1429, Joan of Arc made Blois her base of operations for the relief of Orléans. She rode the thirty-five miles to Blois to relieve Orléans. After his captivity in England, Charles of Orléans in 1440 took up his residence in the château, where in 1462 his son, afterwards Louis XII, was born. In the 16th century Blois was often the resort of the French court. The Treaty of Blois, which temporarily halted the Italian Wars, was signed there in 1504–1505.
Blois was occupied during World War II by the German army, which took the city on 18 June 1940. The city was liberated by American soldiers during the last two weeks of August 1944. On both occasions, the city withstood several days of bombing.