Travel & Life Digest

Romantic Loire - Chateau Villandry

Visiting the Loire valley in spring is pure heaven.
You'd think that after a couple of visits to the chateaux, everything starts looking alike and once you've seen one of them, you've seen them all.
Not quite!

Chateau de Chambord is the big, impressive, decadent one.
Chateau de Chenonceau is the historic one, stretching over river Cher. 
Chateau De Langeais is a family, military fortress.

And after all that, Chateau Villandry felt like the romantic home - the relatable one.

The difference between Chateau de Villandry and all other chateaux in the area  is that this one is approachable.

There is no long driveway to get up to it, no moats, rivers or extended grounds to walk through.
It is right there, down the main road from the centre of the town and a row of gorgeous restaurants. You look out of the windows, across the manicured gardens and you are still part of the village, part of life.

It's a honey-coloured building that feels like a large home, a very large home but a home nevertheless. The interiors are dotted with black and white floors, smoothed over the years, with dips and small slopes to show that people have used this space.

This is why Chateau Villandry is relatable.  

Andalusian-style Love Gardens
The Kitchen Garden

The Andalusian Love Gardens...
Tender Love {top right}- hearts surrounded by masks that used to be worn at balls to conceal the face, enabling potential lovers to engage in conversation.

Passionate Love {bottom right} - hearts broken out of passion, entangled to form a maze, further evoking the dance and whirlwind of passion.

Tragic Love {top left} - blades of daggers and swords used in duels caused by amorous rivalry.

Flighty Love {bottom left} - fans symbolise the fickleness of the sentiments, amongst them horns represent betrayed love and in the centre love letters and sweet notes exchanged by lovers.
The UNESCO-protected view...
Once you climb up to the third floor of the chateau and follow the tiny staircase that leads up the tower, you find yourself amongst the spikey rooftops. That in itself is a beautiful feeling, a sense of freedom, surrounded by architectural art.
The view in front of the chateau is endless green on various levels, you don't immediately spot the rivers that meet straight ahead: the Loire and the Cher. The bloodline of the Loire Valley that travels all the way to the Atlantic. The whole stretch of the two rivers is protected by UNESCO, hence nothing can obstruct it. We stood on this rooftop taking in the green surroundings, the cheerful village and the gorgeous, manicured gardens. What a spot.

When we left the chateau we used the map to follow the road along river Cher.
It's a cobbled-stoned path and if you've ever read Hector Malot's 'Sans Famille' as a child, the story will come flooding back, about oxen carts dragging river boats upstream - hence the wide cobbled roads on he sides of the river. And while you daydream and carry on along the quiet river Cher, there is the Loire, the two rivers joining up in a wide, noisy expansion.

Smiles, sunglasses, hugs, strolling in the gardens, "ooohs" and "aaaahs" all around - a good day in the Loire!

View from the chateau rooftops - you cannot really spot the two rivers running in parallel, which is why you must follow along river Cher by car or on bike.
`The village surrounds the gardens - one of my favourite pictures


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