Judy's Journal - Day 6
Tuesday, September 18th


Up with our usual time & pattern. Breakfast & then for a small walk to the river Cher. We paid our bill at Villandry - 525€ - 4 nites, 2 dinners, 4 breakfast, stamps – Bar Le Columbien. Walk to the Cher, passed gardens w/o houses. Rental gardens. River is shallow & moves rather quickly.

            Into our car before 10:00 & head east towards Amboise. We stop in the town of Chenonceaux & park the car to visit the Chateau Chenonceau, one of the stars of the chateaus of the Loire. (called the women’s chateau bec. 5 strong, free-minded women lived here.) It is approached by a long tree lined (sycamore) path. We opt for the iPod to accompany our tour. Chateau was built in 1500’s along the River Cher. Added on by Henry II’s mistress who lived there. As soon as he died at the age of 40 (from a jousting stab), Henry’s wife Catherine de Medici kicked her out & moved in herself. Catherine added on the rooms across the Cher, which the Mistress had started but not finished. They wanted to hunt on the other side. Catherine (the mother of 4 kings & Mary Queen of Scots, etc.), turned it even more into a party palace. She was a contemporary of Queen Elizabeth in England. Palace contains many beautifully decorated rooms including ceilings, paintings, tapestries & furniture which were moved from place to place as the king traveled. Huge fireplaces, carvings & great views from windows. House also contains a kitchen from the Middle Ages w/ butchering room, larder, room for servants to eat in. Many copper pots, early refrigerator, etc. Huge fireplace to cook in including rotisseries with counter balancing weight roped outside the window. There is also an area where goods could be lifted from the river into the chateau. The servant called the Cher “Diana’s Bath,” because Henry’s mistress, Diana de Pointiers, swam/washed in the river. There are also two formal gardens – the one made by Diana & one by Catherine. Also caryotids & a labyrinth made by Catherine. An overall impressive place. Fantastic flower arrangements in each room.  An interesting fact:  During WWII, one side of the chateau was in Nazi controlled France, the other half in Vichy France.


Chenonceau, spanning the Cher River

Catherine's Garden, at Chenonceau


Tim & Judy, Chenonceau

the evening dining site


            I took photographs in the beginning of our visit & as we got into the house. Then the camera chip went bad & wouldn’t allow any more photos. Quite a disappointment. Problem removed about 6 hrs. later when I put a new chip in. But many photos missed. I’ll have to get them from Deb. Some are on my phone.

            Lunch at cafeteria on grounds of Chateau. Even the French café food is good. Beef stew/Beef Bourginoin & the first banana since we left home. Tap water. Deb a hamburger. Afterwards, I buy a bag in the gift shop for 5 Euros.

            Back to the car on this cloudy cool day (65° maybe) & off to Amboise. We arrive in Amboise after driving thru more picturesque towns. GPS takes thru very narrow streets after we miss a turn. Don has to get out & direct or we would have definitely scraped the sides of the car. Very hairy.

            We get to our hotel – Hotel de Blason in Amboise, which was built in the 1500’s & is a white stuccoed timbered bldg. We are given two neighboring rooms on the top (3rd floor). There is no elevator & very winding narrow staircases. Our rooms are very small, with a bathroom like you’d have on a boat. Hard work to carry up the bags. Tim asks for another larger room, but they are completely full. Maybe tomorrow. We unpack, walk thru the charming town to the TI bureau, where we get recomm. for Chateaux tours & wine tasting places. Off to Place du Chateau where we find the recommended winery & samples, bubbly, white, rose & red wine.

            Deb & Don return to the hotel. Deb is exhausted. & her foot is hurting & tired. Tim & I stop at the grocery store for a few things. Then back to the hotel to have some wine & plan our next two days.

            Out to dinner, but not till late. We end up at a Rick Steves recomm. place – Anne de Bretagne -- & have another good meal. Me & Deb – tom. & mozz. salad, spaghetti napolinaise, dessert of apple tart; Don – cider, crepe w/veggies, choc. crepe; Tim – lamb w/pot. & green beans & outrageously good French choc. mousse cake w/English sauce. Not home till 10:00. Too late to eat but very good.

            We agree to sleep a bit later tomorrow & then go off to bed.

            Neat to be in Amboise, where Leonardo da Vinci. Spent the last 3 years of his life (1416-19) as the court engineer & painter for Charles I, the King of France. Our hotel (1508) bldg. was built when he lived here & he walked many of these streets