|Shortly after leaving Azay de Rideau we came across a “bonus” chateau, not on the official tour - Chateau De La Chatonniere. Unfortunately it was not yet open, but it was still a bit of a find...
Our second stop was the Chateau D’Uss – an almost magical castle that borders the Chinon forest. It was built in the 15th and 16th centuries on the foundation of an 11th century fortress (built by a Viking). The writer Charles Perrault stayed here sometime during the 17th century – inspired by the romantic features of the chateu, he wrote “Sleeping Beauty”. Neither the inside of the chateau nor the gardens were particularly special (we are now becoming chateau critics!), but it is nestled right next to the forest, and looks spectacular as you pedal up to the entrance. It reminded me of the castle in Disneyland. The chateau also had a very nice chapel and an interesting wine cave. (The caves are the perfect temperature for storing wine.) This estate saw fit to dress up some manequins and place them throughout the chateau and caves – not quite sure they acheived what they wanted to . . .
We had lunch just across from the street from the chateau in order to sit out a thundershower, then treked on through a couple of villages, many farms (sunflowers seems to be the main crop), a few vineyards, and a long stretch in a forest near the Loire. Was interesting to see a “planted” forest – all of the trees (a good 40 feet + high) aligned with perfect symetry.
Just before arriving in Chinon we stopped at another wine cave that was 300 years old and had 700 barrels of wine. The best feature was it’s name: Cave Monplaisir.
It was a relatively uneventful 47 km ride today. Once again we experienced mountain like weather, lots of costume changes (Al is now sporting a pink do rag) and a couple of “Saskatchewan Hills” – cycling into strong winds.
Chinon is well known for its Cabernet Franc – many of the reds we have been tasting are from vineyards in this area. It overlooks the Vienne river, and it was here where Joan of Arc transformed from a peasant girl to a warrior-saint.
There was some sort of celebration going on in the town square from the moment we arrived until the wee hours of the morning – alot of people wearing wearing funny hats or with strange hair; street performers; food and wine vendors, etc. It was one big, long party (which didn’t make for a great night sleep, since hour hotel is right on the square!) We also saw two wedding processions earlier in the afternoon.
The chateau in Chinon is really a fortress consisting of three castles – it’s on top of a steep hill and afforded amazing views of the valley below. It has been extensively restored and proved very interesting.
Nest stop: Saumur.