Here, we have arrived at Chateau de Chambord, which was the most magnificent of all the castles we visited. It was really incredible. It was built as a hunting lodge, and wasn’t often inhabited - though my favorite part of the tour were the rooms of Louis XIV (of course). The liquor Chambord, named after the chateau, is used to make a Kir Royale, which is Chambord liquor and champagne. Outside of the Chateau, there was a small market selling regional products, which had an undertone of meat-y, hunting products as it was a hunting lodge. We got a picnic lunch here, and then took a long bus ride back to Grenoble.
That night, we went out to dinner in the city of Tours. Some of the buildings had this German feel to them, and I really liked it.
The next morning, we headed to Chateau de Chambord, and stopped on the way to photograph a Chateau that we passed - it exhibits different historical eras through its architecture, which shows just how long these incredible castles took to build.
After wine tasting, we headed to Chateau de Chenonceau, my favorite (so far) of the places we visited this weekend. This Chateau stands over the Loire river, literally over it, and was home to both Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici. My favorite part of this Chateau, besides its beautiful layout and over-the-river structure, was the kitchens. We also found Catherine de Medici’s symbol, two intertwined C’s, and decided that Chanel and Cartier must have derived their symbols from this sign of royalty and power. Who knows if that’s right, but I think there might be something to it!
After the beautiful gardens of Villandry, we went wine tasting - we got a tour of the wine-making process, learning particularly how to make bubbly wine (only called Champagne if from the Champagne region!). It was so interesting! We had a light lunch, salad and regional goat cheese and meat spread, and tasted the wines - one bubbly, one white and one red.
Next, we visited the gardens of Villandry - these were incredible, and the grounds were huge. My favorite part was a very large vegetable garden, laid out beautifully - the colors were amazing!
On Sunday, we started by visiting Chateau D’Azay-le-Rideau, the smallest of the Chateaus we saw but very charming.
This weekend was my favorite group trip of the semester, and one of my favorite trips in general - we went to the Loire Valley to visit beautiful French castles! We stayed in a hotel in Tours, which is a central Loire location, and took our bus to the castles. On the way to Tours, we stopped in Bourges, to see the Cathedral Saint-Etienne (Stephens), and take a much needed walking break (the bus ride was 8 hours from Grenoble to Tours).