Penne 4 Your Thoughts

Penne Cole's thoughts on food, travel and more

Foreshadow: Visiting chateaux in the Loire Valley

Chateau de Chenonceau, by Penne Cole

Château de Chenonceau, by Penne Cole

In retrospect, I should have listened to the old man.

Jean-Michel, an old family friend, laughed when I told him why I’d picked a business school in a tiny French village over one in bustling London. “London is always grey and rainy. I’d rather go to France,” I told him. “Besides, you guys have better food.”

Raising his eyebrows, he told me that French weather is just as bad; he always escapes to Malaysia for the winter, unable to stand the short, bleak and drizzly winter days.

I didn’t believe him and went to France anyway, kicking off my year in France with a jaunt through the Loire Valley, on a quest to see its prettiest châteaux. The day started off perfectly, with clear blue skies and filmy white clouds providing some relief from the late summer heat.

The beautiful Chenonceau was our first stop. Several features made this my favourite château by far.

  • It’s built across a river, which means it’s got fantastic views not just of its perfectly manicured gardens, but also of the tranquil river, upon which occasional rowers can be seen. How many nobles can claim that they live on a bridge?
Chateau de Chenonceau, by Penne Cole

Chateau de Chenonceau, by Penne Cole

  • The rooms are sumptuously decorated, and every one of them has a lush bouquet of flowers, fresh from the garden.
  • It’s got a kitchen. Unlike many of the other châteaux I’ve been to, Chenonceau boasts a fully equipped kitchen, complete with rows of gleaming copper pots and an enormous fireplace for cooking. The kitchen is the heart of the home, so no château tour can be complete without a kitchen.
  • It’s got fabulously extensive kitchen gardens that not only provide all the flowers for the many beautiful bouquets in the château, but is also home to a fascinating variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Kitchen gardens at Chenonceau, by Penne Cole

Kitchen gardens at Chenonceau, by Penne Cole

We enjoy the day, slowly wandering from château to château and basking in the sunshine. By the time we reach Azay le Rideau, however, the sky has turned dark and ominous. Threatening, heavy clouds fill the sky and a few fat drops of rain splatter down.

Chateau de Azay-le-Rideau, by Penne Cole

Château de Azay-le-Rideau, by Penne Cole

Little did I know that this rain would foreshadow the rest of my time in France. Just like Jean-Michel had warned, by the time Autumn hit, the weather quickly degenerated and the days were more often than not bleak and rainy. Looks like he had the last laugh after all.

This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreshadow.

Practical information

Château de Chenonceau

As with many of the chateaux, access is easiest by car. Chenonceau is two hours’ drive from Paris and parking is free.

Opening times: The castle is open all year round, but opening times vary with the season.

Admission: Prices start at 11 Euros for adults and 8.50 Euros for children aged seven to 18. Children under seven can visit for free. Concession fares for students are also available.

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2 comments on “Foreshadow: Visiting chateaux in the Loire Valley

  1. Damien Wijerathne
    December 5, 2013

    Stunning photos…

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This entry was posted on August 8, 2013 by in Europe, France, Travel, Weekly Photo Challenge and tagged , , , .
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