This morning we left Paris for the Loire Valley. Our agenda includes two castles to visit (Chambord and Chenenceaux) and an overnight stay at the Chateau Malmont. Unlike Versailles, these castles are all considered to be pleasure palaces, not palaces of governance. They were designed as hunting lodges and entertainment centers for the royalty. Chambord was absolutely huge. Construction was started by Francios I and continued by Louis XIV (the Sun King) and was finished by the people of France for Henri, the grandson of Charles X who never actually assumed the throne or lived in the restored castle.
After touring the castle we bought some supplies that were locally made and grown. This included some farmers cheese, Saucisson, and two loaves of bread. I would have bought the Chevre but I was not sure what to do with the moldy crust! I made sandwiches for everyone with my trusty swiss army knife.
Chenenceaux was much smaller, it was built for the mistress of Henri but taken back by his wife Catherine Medici when Henri died. It is built out over the river Cher and has wonderful views. The best thing about Chenenceaux was the kitchens!
After visiting the two castles we had another 3 hours to drive to Chateaux Malmont where we stayed the night. We were really glad to have the GPS this afternoon. From the freeway the Chateaux is really in the middle of nowhere. I couldn't believe the little roads we were on were even part of the map database! We were actually a little paniced when the GPS ran out of batteries just after we got off the freeway. Luckily josh had a partially used pair from his gameboy that had enough juice to get us to the castle.
Malmont was also a hunting lodge and was much smaller than either castle we visited earlier. It was realy nice inside and they had an indoor and outdoor pool. Since the weather was quite cold (8 C) Josh took full advantage of the indoor pool which was in a barrel vaulted room that used to be the guard room. While Josh was in the pool, Kaia went for a 4 mile run and Jane rented a bike to follow behind her. The bike wasn't very good so Jane got a tougher workout than Kaia!
Our suite was two bed rooms with big high ceilings, a WC and a bathroom. Jane and I had a double bed and the kids had single beds.
The chateaux had a restaurant and a tavern. The restaurant was closed on monday nights so we ate in the tavern, which was still quite formal. The menu was three fixed price options based on how many and which courses you had (17.50 - 24 euros). In fact the wine was cheaper than the meals. That does not happen very often back home! The best quote of the day came at dinner when we were sitting at the table and Josh just blurted out: "We're in a castle!"
Jane, Kaia and I had the entree of Guinea Fowl in puff pastry, for the main course Jane had Duck, and Josh, Kaia and I had the steak. Next up was the cheese course with a variety of different cheeses and finally desert which included a small layered cake that tasted like it had a rhubarb middle. Along with the cake we each had a scoop of ice cream. We were all trying to figure out what kind of ice cream it was so we tried to ask the server, who spoke no english that we could tell. Kaia deciphered that it was green apple ice cream.
The best part of the trip is... * Dad: Chenenceaux * Mom: Chenenceaux and Chambord * Kaia: * Josh: