Travel & Life Digest

Roadtripping around the Loire - Chateau De Chenonceau

Chateau de Chenonceau was the reason we decided to take a trip to the Loire Valley. 
For me it's always been this romantic destination, with its' arches stretching over river Cher, sat amongst bright green forestry - the stuff of fairy tales.
Yet, on this rainy April day, I couldn't be more miserable - we had driven all the way from London to experience the charming Loire chateaux and the weather couldn't have been more uninviting, cold and windy; not ideal for our outdoors Easter expedition.
Wellies on, wrapped in warm coats, umbrellas underarm, we set off. The rain was constant and made the day feel sad during our drive through the little villages.
We picked the toll-free route from Tours on purpose, in an attempt to see as much of the countryside as possible. Remember, all motorways in France have tolls, so pick wisely.

Eventually, the rain stopped and as we drove into the Chateau entrance the sun came out!
My wise husband looked at me and said "we wouldn't have had these amazing colours to photograph, if it hadn't rained"...where did this little insightful comment come from? 
The dramatic tree-lined long drive leading up to the gardens and Chateau
The old stables that housed a hospital in WWII
You can't spot the chateau from the entrance.
But you start getting a sense of the importance and history of this place with every step down the long, tree-lined walk. Imagine the commotion and excitement that Henry II of France would have caused, when he'd ride down this driveway with his Court, to visit Diane de Poitiers, who lived here. Imagine her heart flickering at the sight!

One Chateau. Two gardens. Two women tied with the history of this place.
Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers; the wife and the mistress.

Catherine de Medici ruled France from a tiny room in the Chateau, overlooking the Cher.
What a place!

Diane's Garden
Catherine's Garden

Time for tea in the Orangerie...bring on the pastries

On the left of the Chateau, Diane's garden: utterly symmetrical, with sharp-looking flowerbeds.
On the right of the Chateau, Catherine's garden: greener, fuller, featuring impressive water fountains, somehow warmer.

We spent more than an hour wondering around the gardens, always returning to the edge, to lean over and look at river Cher flowing through the arches that hold up this elegant structure.
I'll be honest: I was so mesmerised by the colours around the gardens and the amazing blue sky that I really didn't want to go inside.
We stopped at the Orangery instead for tea and cakes, that gave us time to take in all of the sunny images around the grounds.

View of the spot where the original watermill was built

The Ballroom, stretching over river Cher
Afternoon light, over the Cher
Window in the Green Study, where from Catherine De Medici ruled over France  
The main part of the Chateau was built at the site of a pre-existing water mill, hence, it's not one of the largest Chateaux in the area.
Some of the fireplaces were lit though and that gave the whole place a more "real" feeling.
The ball room stretches over the entire width of the river and with a dozen windows on each side it feels like you are on a boat, hovering over the Cher.
Catherine de Medici built over the arches, originally used for promenading from shore to shore, in order to create a space suitable for the French Court to gather.

What a glorious day. We left happy, smiling and looking forward to a well-deserved dinner...on to Loches!


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