Yesterday in Brasseaux, we walked first to see the Saturday market. We expected to find fruits and vegetables. Instead we found antiques and pseudo-antiques. We walked through, saw some interesting old furniture, asked about a carving tool and left.
It was good timing. We arrived at Cheverny, the smallest of the Chateaux we saw, just as it opened. With pre-bought tickets, we were able to get our pics without people. It was neat in that it has been opened to the public since 1922...one of the first to do so. It is furnished in 17th century style. It has some hanging tapestries, lots of portraits, beautiful floors and ceilings, a Louis the XIII staircade with sculpted square columns carved into flowers and fruits. The Chateau seems narrow and long. It rises white out of green lawns, beautiful trees....giant redwoods, ancient cedars, limes, oranges and others. Apparently the thing to do here is to go see the hundreds of French hunting dogs fed at 5p. We did not do this.
From here we went to Blois on the Loire River. This is an old medieval town....the main trading center of the area since the 1200's. Seven kings are said to have resided here. It is a smaller Chateau....Royal Chateau. Inside is displayed cornices and capitols from periods past along with statues saved from various renovations in the past. On the 2nd floor are some bedrooms of kings and queens. It had a spiral staircase...on the outside open to the inside at the landings. It had a courtyard with cobblestones. It is opposing on the cliffs overlooking the city between two churches. Beautiful work horses toured people around the old city.
We had a thick delicious courgette potage across from the castle in a little tastefully decorated outdoor restaurant that appeared to have been a cobblestoned single car park.
From here we crossed the river and drove on paved country lanes to Chenonceaux. This uniquely situated Chateau sits astride the Cher River. And it was the busiest....with buses, cars and people. It has again beautiful gardens, some with fountains, some with mazes. We found this Chateau sparsely furnished. The kitchens had copper pots, ancient fireplaces and old tables and cutting boards. We found Louis XIV's drawing room and Catherine de Medici's bedroom interesting. The history of the Chateau is shown in the hall. The ceilings of painted and wood panelling were of interest. Again lots of portraits, tapestries and beautiful flower arrangements. The setting is the most spectacular part.
Finding a place to stay proved to be a challenge on this busy holiday weekend. We left Chenonceaux with its 'complet' hotels and B & B's and drove along the Cher River toward Tours. We stopped at what seemed a small place, Saint Martin Le Beau, when we saw a hotel. We wound through the narrow streets to Le Pigeonnier, a small hotel. We took their last chambre. To our surprise we were offered a glass of white wine as a welcome.
Madame's husband Richard is a Viticulteur. He has a 'cave'.....filled with different kinds of wine....15,000 bottles. The temperature is always 14 degrees in the cave. It has been whitewashed....although it appeared long ago. The wine is sold under the Mont Loius name. Only a few wines bear the name Pigeonnier. We were offered a wine tasting and sampled several.
From here we went to Le Pigeonnier for dinner. It is run by the sister-in-law. Service was painfully slow and the meals not exceptional. The company, a Belgian couple, were great. We met at the hotel, toured the cave and sampled wine together. When they found us sitting alone, they welcomec us to their table. Conversation flowed while we waited for food.
Today, we were up early and took the motorways cross country from Tours to Pyla-sur-Mer just south of Bordeaux. Here we went to see a huge sand dune that is moving inland at 4.5 m a year. Dune du Pilat. It is very touristy. Lots of kiosks selling things, people everywhere....including the dune. It has steps up it. It is a summer tourist area.
Just back from this area we have stopped at an Attica hotel....Ahs. Nothing special. We got one of the last rooms.