Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chateaux: Langeais, Usse, Villandry

We awoke to a cooler day; nice but it looked like it could rain at any minute all day long. But, we didn’t have the rain…just a very pleasant day for touring Chateaux and their gardens.

We headed west of Tours along the North bank of the Lorie River. The first few photos are of homes that are built into the side of the mountain. This area has a very soft rock called tufa and they literally live in the side of the hills. Look closely and you will see what looks like a brown patch…that’s the grassy side of the hill above their homes.

We arrived at our first destination about 10:30 am; the Chateau of Langeais. Outside of the drawbridge we saw a bicycle built for four plus a small trailer for their gear. We discovered that it belonged to a family from Australia and they shipped the bike in two large boxes from home and will be traveling for two months this summer in Europe with their two young children around the age of ten.

Langeais’ claim to fame is that the arranged marriage between Charles VII of England and the fourteen year old Duchess Anne of Bretagne to unite the northwestern part of France with England was held here. They have mannequins that represent the wedding party. The Chateaux is well preserved and has many interesting features. One of the guides is dressed as Anne de Bretagne…but her tour was in French so we didn’t stay with them. Outside above the gardens is a large wall; the only remaining portion of the dungeon for the castle. The back has a wooden staircase that allowed us to climb to the top for photos. Something interesting inside of the Chateau was the flickering candles in the dining room. Very real but definitely electric….must remember to look them up on the Internet.

Back to the small roads; this one was primarily for bicycles….it is very popular in the summer to bicycle through the Lorie Valle to see all the different Chateaux. Very narrow when a car approached but we managed and found it a very interesting path for our drive. Note the wonderful sunflowers I was able to photograph up close because we were able to stop along the way with very few autos on this route.

We arrived at Chateau Usse before noon and Jim got a bit of a shock when he found out the cost to tour this Chateau. I think his words were that it would buy him a nice dinner of Canard! If you want to visit the Chateaux; plan to break open your bank as none of them are very cheap….this one is the most expensive of the day at 13 Euros each.

Known as the sleeping beauty castle because of all the turrets; they have created many scenes with mannequins’ of various periods plus in the Tower they have recreated scenes of the fairy tales. Very nice and the Chateau is well preserved. But, as Rick Steves says….stop for a photo shot and past on this pricey pearl! But, we’ve taken the photo three times and I decided I wanted to go in this trip.

Before starting out for the next one we ate a picnic lunch in the car; then off to the East towards Tours for the Chateau and Gardens of Villandry. We’ve been here many times and decided early that we’d only do the gardens. Soon after entering we met Bill and Judy from Tarpon Springs Florida; not far from my sisters who live just south of them. We toured the gardens together sharing travel tips and then from the top of the gardens they headed into the Chateau while we headed over to the Sun Garden and the Maze before finishing in the vegetable gardens.

This is really a special place and one to put on your not to miss list when in the Lorie Valle. We headed out after saying goodbye to the carp in the lake…plus one huge gold fish….fun to tease them to get them to open their mouths for food! We headed East for Tours to see the Cathedrale of St. Gatien that dates back to the year 338…that’s really old!

We’re back at the hotel now…enjoyed our picnic dinner especially since we stopped at a grocery store for a “cold” beer to share and some ham and cheese for sandwiches. Life is good and tomorrow we will see several more Chateaux. Till then…a bientot….

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