This might be one of the most beautiful posts I’ve done (out of 274 according to WordPress!). Not that I had anything to do with it. The scenery around here is just gorgeous.
We both got up about 5:30am. This was the view out our window around 6am.
Breakfast isn’t until 8am so we took Paul out for a long-ish walk. And were greeted with more beauty along the way.
We came across a little place open at 7am so stopped for some coffee…
…and sat outside enjoying the fresh air. No smokers around, yay! That’s the dark side to all this lovely outdoor seating over here.
I mentioned the very narrow street in yesterday’s entry so decided to include a photo of it. And it’s not even one way. Thankfully we haven’t encountered anyone else on it yet as we’ve gone up and down.
A lovely snippet of river between two buildings as we walked back to the hotel up that street.
Breakfast was in caves. Literally. Caves built into the hillside of the hotel.
We left around 8:45am, headed to our first stop of the day, Chateau de Villandry. It’s about a 30 minute drive east along the river.
Chateau de Villandry was first built in the 1600s for the minister of finance of King Francois I. In 1906, it was purchased by a Spaniard and his American heiress wife, Dr. Joachim Carvallo and Ann Coleman, and they restored it to its former glory and improved on the garden. While the house is gorgeous, this stop is really all about the gardens.
The front of the house.
The courtyard. I love that brick on the ground. You toured the house entering on the right, the gardens on the left. We didn’t follow instructions and did the gardens first.
You enter the house and move upstairs to be dumped onto this path which hovers around the gardens. See the landing over there on the right? That’s where I took the next photo.
Spectacular. These rival Versailles and I think I actually like them better.
There are many different sections with many different looks.
A variety of fountains all over.
A maze of course.
There are also herb and vegetable gardens – cabbages in this photo.
This was past the herb garden, I loved the look of this.
The house was pretty simple as these things go, which made it sort of endearing – like you could see yourself living here. The Carvallos raised 6 kids here and the estate is still in the family, run by one of the great-grandchildren. (Or is it great-great? I forget…)
Beautiful dining room.
And an art gallery! Ash and I joke (often) about needing a house big enough for a gallery.
At the end of the gallery was this room with an incredible ceiling.
This was the top of the tower. There was a sign posted as you entered the stairs: “Difficult ascent and descent. Priority to the descent.” Meaning: enter at your own risk. For sure, it was the most catawampus staircase I’ve ever climbed.
But we made it. See that little slit in the wall to the left of the door?
This is the view into the courtyard from there.
We left there after 11am and made a stop at a little shop in the village for a small bite to eat. The breakfast at the hotel was pretty simple and we didn’t eat a ton.
The next stop was Chateau d’Usse. It dates back to the 11th century, but much of the version that remains today was built in the 1600.s Charles Perrault, who wrote the best known version of Sleeping Beauty, spent some time here and this castle was his inspiration for that telling.
It was literally magical as we approached it, especially with all of the children around.
There are lovely gardens built across the front of it, on the right there.
Because you’d be disappointed if he didn’t….
I do love this photo of Ash.
This is looking back at the road that led up to it. When we first turned onto it and I saw this in the distance I literally gasped.
The courtyard. As we were walking into it I may have gotten choked up a bit, can’t even explain why. Everything about this environment was just so breathtaking.
That new wing which you can identify on the far right by the change in architecture is occupied by the current residents. Ownership last changed hands in 1883, when Count Bertrand de Blacas inherited it from descendants of the Duchess of Duras, who’d had it since 1807. It has remained in the Blacas family ever since, currently occupied by the Duke.
The turret and tower on the left side does a whole Sleeping Beauty thing which was so for the kids but surprisingly fun.
The rooms are decked out in images from the story.
And of course there’s a prince at the end. You can see the whole thing here if you’re interested.
I just loved the colors in the flowers at the entrance.
This was actually on the other side of the castle. I refrained from taking too many photos since so much of this stuff starts to look alike. But this was unique: the little cubby the nobleperson sat in and was carried around the village in. They called it a sedan.
We do love dining rooms and this was beautiful and elegant.
The King’s Bedroom, named because Louis XIV would stay here when visiting, as well as other royalty from other places. The last royalty to stay here was an Emperor from Ethiopia, in 1971.
If you’ve read a bunch about castles, you know the major ones all have their own chapels. This was built in the late 1800s.
Simple but pretty.
It was after 1pm when we were done and we were ready for lunch. We walked a little bit into the town and had lunch at the hotel restaurant.
I loved the dishes here.
Ash started with lentils….
….and I had a salad. That tower thing is layers of apple, beets and goat cheese.
We both had the chicken, in a lovely gravy with balsamic mushrooms and a teeny egg soufflé. Wonderful.
We were sitting at that window on the right. I noticed people outside taking photos of the restaurant and I thought “I didn’t think it was that remarkable” and then I realized it wasn’t the building they were interested in. And then they all got in it and drove away! Must’ve been a special limousine service or something. (Hey, Pat – what kind of car is that?)
We skipped a big dessert but had coffees and shortbread cookies.
We got back to the room after 3pm. Ash took Paul out for a long walk. I got a nap in and started working on the blog. There were a lot of photos so I kept culling to get them down a reasonable number. Finished up until this point about 6pm. We will head out to dinner – just across the street – around 7.
A photo of Paul which Ash took on their afternoon walk by the river.
We went across the street – sidewalk really, it’s so narrow – to the restaurant we made reservations at earlier. When we pulled up from our earlier excursion – the parking lot here is the same as the hotel – they were setting up outside and we asked if we could get a table for tonight. They said they were full. Ash let them know we were guests of the hotel and then suddenly they had a table if we could come early, which was fine with us. Dinner is later in Europe than at home – not unusual for some to eat as late as 9pm. We were just fine with 7. (At home 5:30pm is not unusual!)
Ash had scallops for his first course.
I had a split pea soup with some bacon. As in yesterday’s meal, didn’t really have any idea what to expect. I knew I didn’t want salmon or foie gras so other than the scallops this was the only choice. We’d figured out it was soup just weren’t sure what. It was delicious. Good thing I love peas.
Ash had the fish which was pike and he said it was great.
I had the beef which had a great flavor but had a lot of fat and gristle. That said, it wasn’t an expensive meal so I’m not that surprised.
Ash had a lovely chocolate thing for dessert.
Mine was a spice cake with vanilla frosting, some whipped cream and a madeleine.
We got back to the room a little after 9pm to take Paul out one more time.
There’s a garden just past the restaurant we hadn’t noticed before.
The sun was just starting to set behind the castle.
I let Ash and Paul walk some more and came back up to finish the blog and secure tickets for 2 of the remaining castles we have planned, one for tomorrow and one for Thursday. And there’s one more we will probably go to, plus the one we are staying at tomorrow and Thursday night. This show is going to keep getting better so if you’re enjoying it, be sure to come back. The best is yet to come.
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