Sunday, 23 May 2010

Loire Valley

Last weekend we headed up to the Loire Valley, south of Paris in France. From Nyon this is quite a long trip and we only arrived in Orleans in the evening.

This meant we headed practically straight out from our hotel to find some dinner, which we intended to be something relatively cheap and quick but which ended up being a large and heavy dinner of Loire cuisine that seemed to keep us feeling over-full for the remainder of the weekend.

At one point I picked up a Loire cookbook in a tourist shop and read the nutritionist advice in the front cover - it recommended that the meat, butter, and cream-heavy food was not a healthy diet for normal people.

The next day we headed out to see some castles - the Loire valley being rich in castles as it is with its food.

We started with Chambord, which is a dangerous way to start a weekend of castle-watching because it may well be the most impressive of the whole area. In fact it did not start life as a castle but was actually built as a hunting lodge. The castle is surrounded by forest that was bright green at this time of year.

After a "snack" of fresh bread with goats cheese and foie de cerf we moved on to Blois, which is a town with another impressive castle, although this one is built in the town and evolved over many centuries making it an architectural mixed bag.

The next day we started at Chaumont, with a fairytale castle and some pretty gardens that looked over the Loire valley.

Then we moved on to Chenonceau, an amazing castle built out over the river and surrounded by forest. We had lunch there and took an audio tour, learning the interesting history of the castle and the people who lived within it.

We finished up at Tours, one of the major cities of the region, which has a well preserved old town where we had dinner at a creperie in the main square - finishing with sweet crepes served with Chantilly cream.

On our last day we wandered around Orleans, visiting the rebuild house of Jean of Arc, before moving on back in the direction of Switzerland.

We stopped at one more castle at Sully-sur-Loire, which we'd saved for the last day because it was roughly on the way home, and found we were really lucky with our timing because there was also a medieval faire being held.

It was fascinating seeing all these people dressed up in period costumes and living out of tents of the age, even if there was some strange sights, like "American Indians" and WWII soldiers mixing with medieval knights. Everyone seemed to be having fun and getting along just fine regardless!

The castle itself was also quite interesting and we took ourselves on a tour around it but soon we were feeling the pressure of time to finish the drive back to Switzerland.

In the end we got back home with no troubles, having not really encountered any problems or traffic, but we were happy to have given ourselves time to recover after quite an exhausting and busy trip!

1 comment:

Elisa @ Globetrotting in Heels said...

WOW! That looks fantastic! I love castles and anything medieval - your last shots remind me of when we went to the Medieval fair in upstate New York, so fun!

This looks like a fantastic trip. Thank you for sharing the photos!