The drive from Paris to Loire Valley on the Autoroute mostly covered territory suitable for farming, with large flat green pastures and crops. However, when we left the Autoroute and entered the Loire Valley, it was quite different.
We traveled along a winding river road in a rich riparian valley that led us deeper and deeper into the Loire--a hilly sort of region with craggy walls on one side of the narrow two-lane road and the river on the other. We immediately noticed "cave homes," which had been built into the side of hills, some of which were quite elegant and other very rustic. We learned that when taxes became too high for citizens to buy homes, centuries ago, the French who refused to pay the high taxes found a way around it by digging caves into hillsides and hence exempting themselves from land tax--after all, a cave was not considered a land "residence" and the tax collectors didn't quite know what to do about it, so didn't levy the owners. To date, these homes still exist and we imagined that they must be cool in the summer and warm during winter months and most probably provide a smaller carbon footprint than a traditional land residence.
We drove to Luyres, France where we found the turn off for Domaine de Beauvois, a place Doug found on the internet that boasted a beautiful country setting with an elegant restaurant. The grounds, pool area and gardens were indeed beautiful and the interior of the once-private residence was elegantly furnished with fine french antiques and highly polished wood was visible throughout the interior of the structure. We dined there, since it was sort of remote, and had a five-star meal in the dining room. There was a nice lounge decorated in french provincial and the bartender even knew how to make an American Tanqueray Martini! The domaine was also smack dab in the midst of the castle/chateau region, convenient for our tour. Though expensive, we were delighted with this find and we'd return without a second thought if we were to revisit the region.
We were only an hour or two outside of Paris, yet it was an entirely different world there in the Val de Loire. We checked in and immediately lit out to explore the region, having arrived before lunch. We tried to avoid the big commercially advertised castles and sought out, instead, small villages with smaller less visited castles. This turned out to be a good idea as we had less traffic and virtually no tourists to contend with.
We traveled first to a small village called Langeais. The village was void of people, other than a few locals and perhaps a couple of families. We toured the castle without any company and dined at a small sidewalk brasserie, enjoying the delicious light lunch prepared by the chef while sipping on some crisp white wine. It was delightful and we spent several hours there.
Since it was getting late, we postponed our other adventures until the next morning. We then drove to a larger castle called Chateau des Dames Chenonceau. Built in 1500's, it has a long recorded history. We were pleased to have chosen this particular castle because the neatl sculped gardens and grounds were gorgeous as was the interior. Because it is built across a river, the river gives back a complete reflection of the beautiful architecture of the structure. It is quite amazing and I suggest you click on the link provided to learn a bit of the history surrounding it. It can take nearly an entire day to fully appreciate this chateau and it's gardens, but we moved through quickly so that we could drive on to see a couple of smaller castles in the region.
Amboise is a thriving small village and noted for being the place where Leonardo di Vinci died. There is a large chateau here to examine as well as a lovely small village with narrow streets lined with pots overflowing with flowers or containing shade trees. The village was immaculately clean and we watched as a village gardener moved his water wagon along the narrow street, stopping at each planter and dousing the plants with a good soaking of water.
We stopped at a small sidewalk cafe where we enjoyed a delicious pizza, then walked to the chocolatier's shop to drool over all her beautiful hand dipped chocolates screaming to be bought. She had a knack, as it was the best chocolate we'd had and believe me we gravitate to the French chocolatiers!
We drove through other small villages, taking back roads back toward Paris arriving at the periphery at rush hour. Doug is never intimidated by driving in Europe (thankfully!) and he maneuvered us right back into the 15e and safely into the garage at our apartment. What a lovely side trip during our stay in Paris.
That's it folks. This was the end of our wine cruise and Paris adventure. It was a memorable trip and we hope you've enjoyed following our blog. Hopefully it will inspire you to get out there and see the world and meet the people. We are totally and completely absorbed by the French and we'll have many more adventures to share with you, so stay tuned!
Don't forget to comment, if you wish. I love hearing from my readers. Au revoir until next time and be sure to enjoy the pictures below.
The Quaint Castle Village Of Amboise
A Chat With The Chocolatier of Amboise
Amboise Gardener With His Water Truck
Chenonceau, Chateau des Dames Built Across The Cher River
M'ladies Chamber, Chenonceau Chateau
The Amazing Bedroom Inside The Chateau des Dames, Chenonceau
The Road To Chateau des Dames, Chenonceau
Castle Entrance Looking Down On Langeais
Roof Tops Of Langeais Taken From Castle Grounds
The Pleasure Of Walking Through A Rosemary Garden Is Indescribable!
Joy In France Is Finding A Great Restaurant Open During Rest Period!
Langeais France. Can You Tell It's The Afternoon Rest Period?
Bored With Their Castle Tour, These Brothers Entertain Themselves
Brasserie In Langeais, France
Lovely Village of Langeais In The Castle Region Of The Loire Valley
Entrance To A Castle in Langeais, France
Narrow Streets Of Civray de Touraine, France
Country French Desiged Suite At Domaine de Beauvois
Walking Trails At The Domaine de Beauvois Where We Stayed
Outside Dining At Domaine de Beauvois, Luyres, France
The Remarkable Cave Houses Of The Loire Valley
This Convenient Sign On The Highway Leads Us To Our Domaine
A Quiet Domaine (Hotel) In Luyres (Loire Valley)
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