Judy's Journal - Day 7
Wednesday, September 19th


Up late to prepare for our day – at 8:00 instead of 7:00. Pretty quiet last nite, but with the window closed it was hard to hear the cars on the busy street below.

            To breakfast at our hotel – 7.50€ each. Much different than our last hotel. 1 basket w/1 croissant, 1 hunk of bread, & one chocolate square lite roll for each of us. There is an orange juice machine & hot water for tea but we have to use our own tea bags! No fruit, cereal, etc. Not as good as the last place.

            Off to downtown to buy a newspaper & Deb & Don a few groceries.

            At breakfast we met an interesting American couple from near Aspen, Colorado. He was a computer geek & gave Deb an idea how to connect to the internet, which she keeps getting bumped off of.

            To our car. On the way we meet an interesting English couple in front of the hotel. He’s driving in France w/ his steering wheel on the right. Used to own a vineyard near Villandry.

            We drive to Chambord, northeast of Amboise. We drive along the Loire. Landscapes slight diff. than near Villandry.


the expansive Chambord

on Chambord's parapet


double-helix staircase, da Vinci inspired?

cave dwelling in Amboise (even more frequent in Loire)


           We arrive at Chambord after about an hour of driving. Park & walk to the Chateau which is HUGE! It is a cool, slightly breezy but sunny day – 50’s in the am, low 60’s during the day & 40’s at nite.

            Chambord was started by Francois I in the 1500s. Never completed before he died, changed, redone, refurbished by many diff. kings & royalty & wealthy people. Much not furnished. 400 rooms & we saw 80. There are 284, not 365, fireplaces as we had heard previously. Double curved staircase, supp. designed by da Vinci. Also a chapel, Francois and his queen’s apartments, apartments set up for king Louis & many ptgs. & tapestries. Chateau surrounded by much acreage (larger than Paris) used for hunting. Still filled w/ animals because the acreage is fenced. During WW2, France’s valuable art came thru here or was stored here so it couldn’t be stolen by the Nazis. Chateau owned by the state since the 30’s.

            We take a break in the middle to have lunch at the café at the chateau. Quiche & pastry.

            Afterwards we head to a winery, which is actually a cooperative of many grape producers who join in their crops together & make wine. We tasted bubbly, white & red. Shared our tasting w/ an English couple, the male who had lived in Boulder, CO for 4 years. Some people came in with large plastic containers, filled them w/ the wine “base” & will take it home, add yeast etc & make their own wine. Also, tomorrow starts their harvest. In Jan of 2012, they had an extended period of heavy cold & lost 80% of their crops of grapes/vines. Felt guilty but bought no wine.

            Deb is still exhausted & didn’t do the tasting w/ us. Tim saw her limping at the chateau & later she doesn’t go to dinner w/ us, but stays home to rest. The cold she has exhausts her too. Luckily, Don’s cold is much better. Tim still coughs from time to time.

            Back at 5:30 & we go to D & D’s new room (They switched to a bigger one), & have wine including a Clermont (bubbly) we had bought on our1st stop. It’s top explodes off & overflows all over the desk & floor. (The hotel had chilled it for us.) What a mess & luckily the cork didn’t hit Tim.

            Noel sent us an email w/ an attachment from the NY Times – an editorial from a conservative commentator criticizing Romney. We read it and enjoy it tremendously. We surely hope Romney keeps screwing up his campaign! Then an email back to Noel.

            Don & Tim & I go for dinner. Again, Deb too tired. We stop first & buy her some cheese & bread for later.

            We go to “Epicerie” on Place de Chateau. Recomm. by hotel, Rich Steves, etc. Typical French food. Very busy place. We sit inside cause it is cold. Me – escargots, lamb shank, cheeses & macaroon w/ caramel sauce & pudding! Tim – lamb shank & crème brûlée; Don – foie gras, tripe (andouette sausage, which I must admit I thought was awful! Don is very adventurous but didn’t eat but half) & white choc. w/ apricot filling & sauce. Delicious! Best meal yet - 108€ for all 3. Nice atmosphere, service & timing.

            A walk to the bridge, recomm. by many to view the chateau at nite, but no lights on castle. Very cool evening (40°), rushing water of Loire below bridge.

            Back of our room to get warm & rest.