This could also be called ‘Eight Castles in Two Days’!
How did you commit to such madness you ask? Well, actually we booked for a full day, 4 castle tour yesterday and a 1/2 day 2 castle one today. With some relaxing time left in Tours this arvo.
However, we arrived this mng (Thurs 5/5) at our rendezvous point and the tour organiser; tall, dark, handsome and speaking English with a strong, movie-character like accent suggested we should do another full day and he would give us a whopping 2 Euro ($3!) discount. C, all weak at the knees – Oui! End of story…
Have we yet mentioned at how clever we have been in surrendering the object of death and having tour guides takes us to our next ports of call? If not, I should have. We had mad ‘tour’ drivers roaring up narrow streets, dicing with death regularly and taking routes that would have made JP blanche with fear – but were we concerned? Mais non!
The funniest sight was roaring past a small, obviously hire car, with the driver clinging to the centre line, his knuckles clenched white upon the steering wheel and his wife clutching anxiously an open map that obscured the windscreen. We laughed so much snot ran out our nose!
Wed 4/5: Now, down to tours. We visited Close Luce where Leonardo Da Vinci lived. It was a beautiful ‘little’ house really. Would happily live there. He was one bright boy that Leonardo. Allan Smith we’d have never dragged you out of the basement – there were heaps of his inventions there, you’d have loved it!
Then on to Amboise. Well they are only a few hundred metres apart actually. Leonardo had the ear of some wise King who built him a house just down from his palace type place. What we are discovering is that history is all about who has the reigns of power.
The bloke who was in charge when Leonardo was around was obviously canny and he encouraged L in his studies and experiments. His Castley place was huge. Then a few centuries later along comes another guy who decides to make some money by pulling down TWO THIRDS(!!!!) of Amboise and selling it for building material to the locals!!!! Aarrgghhhh.
That’s what years of inbreeding and a lack of education can do for you. Enough! Anyway, it wasn’t a bad place at all and gave you magnificent views down into the town of Amboise and the Loire river flowing by. Have fantastic photos we can bore you with when we get home.
Then Chambord – that’s a photo of it above. Great place with 365 chimneys! Plus an amazing double helix staircase – which was designed by our new best friend Leonardo. It was disorienting seeing someone through a window in the staircase as if they are just a few rungs below you – but you have no idea how to get to where they are. It did my head in.
Finished up at Chenonceau, another beautiful, small place with a fantastic garden. Some reno’s going on, so not at it’s best. But still good. Huge gallery where they held parties etc (60 metres long!) which extended out over the river and was supported by a fantastic arch structure like a real bridge. They held parties there.
The photo below (if all goes to plan) is of Chenonceau. The bit sticking out to the left with the arches under it is the gallery.
Thurs 5/5: Today we visited Azay Le Rideau, Villandry, Usse and Langeais. I am so castled out I can’t remember much of it (it’s the ABC tour of France!). But some general points:
Villandry is magnificent, still privately owned, immaculately kept and with gardens that are probably the best of their type in the world. Brian King, did Ange say you had to do the same when you got back home? C is making unveiled threats to me!
There’s a photo of just one section of the veggie garden below:
Our host, Steve, in Brionne informed us that in the Revolution most of the castles were ransacked. The local peasants came in said ”ere, I’ll ‘ave a bit of that.’ and did. So now, when you visit a castle most of the rooms are almost empty and what furniture is there is predominantly reproduction.
Villandry, again, is an exception. But take Usse. A beautiful castle from the outside, looking like a fairy princess castle. In fact, they promote it as the castle of Sleeping Beauty. And it is gorgeous, not bad inside either. However, it looks like they’ve hired a failed apprentice from Madame Tussaud’s to stuff the interior with bad models all making up scenes from the fairy story. Ho hum.
And what ancient stuff they did have all came from overseas! Most of it from India! Think 18th Century Chickenfeed and you get the idea. Still, it’s a gorgeous castle and I’ll end with a photo of it: