Saturday, January 26, 2008
Chateau & Sunshine
Having left the hustle and bustle of London and Paris far behind, we were met with a day of beautiful sun as we explored the Loire Valley. We passed through picturesque villages, seemingly ripped from travel posters, and took in a handful of the hundreds of chateau in the region. The chateau and the small villages they inhabit, are like something out of a fairy tale, complete with clock towers, turrets, and ornamented roofs.
We spent a couple hours wandering around Amboise, where Leonardo Da Vinci spent his final years, and where the current Duke of France (the man who would be king if France maintained the monarchy) lives. It's an idyllic town, with cute shops (including an amazing chocolatier), cobbled streets, and lanes so narrow it's surprising they allow cars on them (at first glance we thought the streets were limited to bikes).
The highlight of the day, however, was Chenonceau, an even more amazing Chateau. At various times, it was occupied by King Henry II, his wife Catherine de'Medici, and his mistress Diane de Poitiers. It sits quite literally on the river, with arched stands for the river to run under. The Gardens, when designed by Diane de Poitiers, were the most elaborate and contemporary in all of France.
We had just a few moments to squeeze in a quick wine tasting at the village of Vouvray. They are famous for their sweet wines, which are almost impossible to find in the U.S. Unlike many sweet wines, these ironically have savory flavor that underpins the taste. Melissa and I both agree they are unlike any wine we've ever tasted.