Saturday, June 28, 2008

Val de Loire

It was a bit of shock coming back to Paris last evening after a couple of days in the Loire Valley. Not only did we trade clear skies for gray, but we also left behind well tended fields and gardens for trash strewn streets. I don't know if there was a garbage strike while we were gone or what but things were certainly a mess. The trash trucks came down our street last night at midnight to take care of the overflowing bins and this morning the street sweepers were at work to clean up the rest of it.

But back to our trip. Twenty one years ago, my husband and I took a weeklong bicycling trip in the Loire Valley, making our way east from Angers to Orléans, followed by several days in Paris. It was a wonderful experience. This time around, our plans were more modest but no less satisfying. We rented a car and headed out on Wednesday morning. It's just two and a half hours to Chambord, where we picnicked in the forest where France's Renaissance king, François I, used to hunt. In 1987, we'd ridden by it in the driving rain. This time, the storms clouds gathered but the sun won out.

Over the next few days, we also visited Clos Lucé, the manor house in Amboise, where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last three years of his life, the chateaus at Chenonceaux and Cheverny, and an evening spectacle on the grounds of the chateau at Amboise. The kids liked watching the feeding of the hounds at Cheverny, testing out models of Leonardo's inventions, and the maze and the gardens at Chenonceaux. Top marks went to the dinners we enjoyed at our hotel in Fleuray and the pool there.

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