For Sarah’s birthday, we decided to get out of town and go to the Loire Valley. We woke up very early to make the first train to Tours, so we could figure out where we should be going!
When we arrived in Tours, it was pretty early and chilly, but we found l’Office de Tourisme and sought out information for activities. We ended up getting an almost private ride to Amboise, and then Chenonceau. I know pictures aren’t the same as being there, especially not mine, but I will do my best to explain:
Amboise was the first settlement of the Celtic Turones tribe, which gave Touraine it’s name. They gradually built the fortifications overlooking the River Loire.
1431: Louis d’Amboise had to give up the Château to Charles VII after plotting against his favorite, La Trémouille.
1470: Future King Charles VIII, is born at the Château.
1516: Leonardo da Vinci was invited to join the court at Amboise. He spent his time drawing and teaching, with a focus on urban planning and building of canals. He was very close to the King, and when he died, he was buried according to his wishes in the Chapel of the Château.
Henri IV’s court left the Loire Valley favoring Paris. At this point, the Château was just a stopping point for Bourbon kings. Much of the castle has suffered from deliberate demolition, and now only 1/5 of the original structure has survived.
Château de Chenonceau
Patrick, our driver, came to pick us up and take us to Chenonceau. In the information we received on the ride, we learned that the Château was built by Thomas Bohier and his wife Katherine Briçonnet on the site of a fortified castle and mill belonging to the Marques family in the 16th century. They kept only the Marques Tower, and restored the structure. The well, next to the tower also remains.
King Henri II donated Chenonceau to his favorite, Diane de Portiers, in 1547. She designed many of the gardens on the property, as well as building the famous bridgeover the River Cher.
After the death of her husband, Henri II, Catherine de Medici removed Diane. She made the gardens even more spectacular, and increased the hight of the gallery over the bridge, organizing amazing parties. Here is a picture of Sarah enjoying the views of the River Cher. 🙂
The kitchens were in the first two bases of the bridge, and they went on and on. More copper pots than I even knew there were shapes for. The biggest bottle rack I have ever seen. I had to stand on a step to take this picture, and even then it wouldn’t fit into the screen completely.
Louise of Lorraine spent her time at the Château after the death of her husband, Henri III in 1589. In mourning, wearing all white, as ordered by court, she was mostly forgotten. She spent her time devoted to charity and prayer, and when she died, this marked the end of royal presence at the Château.
Patrick picked us up and took us to Tours.
He set us off in the right direction to find some lunch and do a little wine tasting. First we had some pastries and a couple chocolates to fortify us for our walk. We sat and ate them in the square in front of the Cathédrale Saint-Gatien.
We found a great little pizza spot located in the middle of a square, with one great waiter, and one grouch. Each had a pizza, and split some wine, and then as it was part of the prix-fixe, we both had some dessert. 🙂
Then we went walking to find some more local wine. Unfortunately, as it was Monday, many things were closed, so we did some exploring.
After that, we were headed on a good lead to a well known wine shop! But once again, we found a lovely square, sat and had a glass of Chinon, and then visited the bakery across the square, of course! Ended up bringing a very hearty boule home with us! (Delicious for breakfast…)