This was our last morning in Montsereau. We were up by 6am and went out about 7am to find breakfast. We’d forgotten to notify the hotel we would be eating there and after our first experience there didn’t really regret that.
It was 47 degrees this morning. You can see the mist from the cold coming off the river.
We went to the same place as the prior morning for coffee and got pastries from two doors down. After a couple of coffees, we made our way back to the hotel, finished packing and checked out. We were on the road by 8:15 just like we wanted to be. After a stop for gas, we got to our destination right about 10am.
Chateau de Chenonceau was originally built in the 1200s. It was torched as punishment for an act of sedition then rebuilt in the 1430s. It was sold again due to debt and bought in the early 1500s by Thomas Bohier and his wife Katherine Briconnet. They tore much of it down and started over, loving to entertain nobility, including King Francois I, who later seized it from the son for unpaid debts. It passed to his son, Henri II, who then gave it to his favorite mistress, Diane de Potiers, who happily turned it over to Queen Catherine de Medici upon the King’s death.
There’s a lovely long walk leading up to it.
It’s very castley.
Although I admit at this moment, I was shocked and a little disappointed that the front tower wasn’t connected. That’s left over from the one built in the 1300s.
One of the most unique things about this castle is the entire thing is built over a river, the Cher. Quite a construction feat for those times.
There’s a beautiful chapel just off the entrance. The windows are modern, done in 1954.
This long gallery Medici added. Being from Florence, she was inspired by Ponte Vecchio.
It had what was considered a very modern kitchen for its time.
King Louis XIV had a room here because, apparently, he had a room everywhere! I’ve lost count now. He got around.
Same wing as the earlier gallery but one floor up.
A beautiful mantle at the beginning of that gallery.
Looking back across the front from the balcony.
The main gardens.
If the gardens above were 12 o’clock, this would be about 4 o’clock from where I was standing then.
The galleries we were in earlier extending behind the castle. And you can really see here how the whole thing is over the river.
The angle view of the gardens.
We left here about 11:30 or so, moving on to the next stop of the day, the Royal Chateau in the city of Blois. Blois was a major arts center in the 1400s, and when Francois I became King, he established his first court here.
We stopped for lunch at a little place outside the castle, sitting under those umbrellas. That’s a part of the castle there in the back on the left.
We split a ham, cheese and mushroom crepe with salad, and fries.
This castle doesn’t look like much from the outside, very untypical in that and other ways.
The other thing that makes this untypical is it had 4 wings centered around a single courtyard, each built in a different architectural style. In the above photo you have Renaissance, specifically Italian, built between 1515-1519 by Francois I. Notice the outdoor staircase which I don’t believe I’ve ever seen, and we loved. On the left is French Classicism, built between 1635-1638 by Gaston of Orleans.
This is the Flamboyant wing, built by Louis XIII between 1498-1508. At the very left edge of this photo, you see a small part of the small portion of the castle that’s Gothic from the 13th century.
A lot of the first few rooms are dedicated to the castle history and restoration.
From the inside of that outside staircase. Prety cool.
One of the King’s halls.
The other end of that hall.
You can definitely see the Italian in this hall, and that harpsichord. It was made in 1572.
The rest of that same hall.
Another cool indoor/outdoor space.
You can see the town just beyond the castle. Unlike the others that were on grand estates, this is literally the center of town.
Some pretty vases. We would love one for our living room!
Another huge hall, this built in the 1200s, in the Gothic portion of the castle.
This is the staircase in the French Classicism wing. Really beautiful.
The ceiling in the staircase.
We were done here about 2:30pm. It took us about 90 minutes to get to our next stop, where we will be staying for the next 2 nights, because of some construction detours. The town is Salbris, population about 5000.
The place is Chateau de Rivaulde. The first castle was built here in 1524, but this version is practically modern, built in 1902. It’s had an interesting occupancy history, including single families, summer camps, and turned into condos at one point. Ash’s current guess is it’s a senior living facility. He found it on Airbnb.
This is the living room. I’m sitting at that desk to the left of the window as I type.
This is the view out that window. (Except of course it’s dark at the moment!)
The fireplace just to the left as you walk in.
The bedroom in the corner. There’s a window facing the same front lawn…
…and another facing a little patio below and lots of yard out back.
Random aside: I’m impressed by how fast the Wi-Fi is here, much faster than the prior 2 places. At the last stay, we gave up and just used our cell phones as a hot spot.
I tried to explore but there’s not much to see. In our wing there’s just a staircase with its own entrance from the front. This is through the front door. All of the doors have mirrors on them and are locked so you don’t get any sense of the rest of the house. Bummer.
But the staircase is great!
The back of the house.
Nothing but open field behind it.
Looking back up at our bedroom window which we left open, top right.
Paul made himself at home quite quickly.
Ash had an online bridge game at 5pm. I ran up to the supermarket to pick up a few things, then came back and worked on the blog while he finished his bridge game. We left around 7:30pm to go to dinner at a hotel on the other side of town (all of about a 10-minute drive).
Domaine de Valaudran, another grand house turned hotel.
The amuse bouche was gazpacho.
I had the snails as my first course, in a pea soup again. That seems to be a theme for this trip. But it was wonderful.
Ash had a cold crab bisque.
Ash’s main was scallops.
I had the veal, this was wonderful.
You got to pick the cheeses you wanted for the cheese course, which Ash got but I passed on.
Ash had souffle for dessert.
I couldn’t really tell what this was going to be from the description – in English even – but it was like a Napolean. Crisp wafers between layers of caramelized pecans and something like a vanilla pudding. Cold cooked pears on one side and a pear sorbet on the other.
Ash spent most of his dinner dealing with a guest issue in San Francisco (where he runs an Airbnb if you didn’t know). But it’s all been resolved now so at least he’ll be able to sleep in peace. When we weren’t talking about that, we were talking about Chateau de Chambord where we will go tomorrow, our last stop on the castle run. Should be a great one.
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