Châteaux in the Loire Valley
May 2, 2017
|We spent the day chateaux-ing. This region of France was the political hotbed back in the XV to the XVIIth centuries. Therefore the in-crowd built these lovely castles and their beautiful grounds. Much more open and less fortified than the earlier castles, when one was under constant threat of being overrun by Vikings or perhaps just unfriendly neighbors. Nowadays, they are overrun with tourists instead.
The chateau nearest to our hotel was sadly undergoing extensive refurbishment, which made it difficult to see the actual chateau. Then we were off to Usse; said to be the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty fable. Here they call it Beauty and the Sleeping Woods. The encroaching forest was indeed somewhat sinister, but the wax dioramas of the story line were a bit kitschy.
Villandry is a wonderful chateau completed in 1526 with beautifully restored renaissance gardens; very Italianate, with lots of boxwood hedges with artfully sculptured designs. Even the vegetable garden is beautifully groomed and arranged by color. No weed or bug would dare to show it's face there, I am sure.
I had no idea that Prince Charming woke up Princess Aurora by setting up a laser show, and presumably laying down a sic beat. At least, that's what I gathered from the wax figures at chateau Usse. Aside from that, I spent the day photobombing Whitney and worrying about the weather.
We managed to still get in 3 chateaux today despite the lack of breakfast options in this sleepy town. Our hotel seems to be the only place open at 8:30am... Anyways, Azay-le-Rideau Chateau (3 doors down from our hotel) was renovating half the exterior which was very upsetting (see photo). It was the tiniest of chateaux we've been to thus far. I think it could have fit in the entry room of Versailles!
The Chateau d'Usse was very cute, the Aurora section in the tower was a bit out there with all the plastic figurines. They had mannequins throughout showcasing women's clothing from various time periods. To be honest, the rest of the rooms are all starting to look the same with various architecture changes. We did explore a cool cave where they use to manufacture wine right in the cliff side! Tom thinks we need this at home now ;-)
Chateau Villandry was an average size with very large gardens comparatively. We did not make it to all of them as the weather was very ominous and we were growing tired. The symmetry was mesmerizing though. Tomorrow our plan is to hit the Chateau Cheverny - the one with the hunting fox hounds on our way back to Paris to drop off the car and meet with the family one last time.