Loire Valley: Château de Chenonceau

Loire Valley: Château de Chenonceau

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Rollicking Road Trip Through France: Chapter 1

Road Trip through France: Initial Observations

Hopefully you have been following the much more frequent updates of our trip on Instagram. It has been so busy over the last week that I am only now getting to the posts. Before we get to our first stop of Château de Chenonceau, some initial observations about our road trip in France:

  • I am taking way too many pictures. I am now swimming — more like drowning — in photos and have been struggling with how to organize them for posts. So I’ve given up on having a great plan, as it’s more important that I record this and share before I forget the details. Also, I think I need to invest in a better lens.
  • The worst French accent I’ve heard now (and much worse than ours) is the GPS-lady on Google Maps. It is painful hearing her say the names of these French streets.
  • This trip is magic. Yesterday was such a crazy and surprising day. I can’t wait to tell you about it, and that has compelled me to try and get through the days leading up to it.
  • A road trip is not a road trip without road trip snacks. This trip has beauty and indulgences and delights around every corner, but buying junk food and coke at stops along the way is the best treat. It’s hard to describe the glee I feel about this. But why, oh why, aren’t there more Sonics in the world? Isn’t that something we can all rally around?
  • It is pretty easy to drive through France, which is consistent with what we’ve heard. But there are some weird things you have to get used to: very small roads in and among the small villages, the insane love affair with roundabouts this country has, and the awkwardness of having to get out of your car to open and close a gate when parking.
  • Paris is not France. I knew this, but am getting reminded of that every day.
  • Getting out of Paris has already been fabulous for our French. Our skills are getting a workout. Which is more than I can say for the rest of us.

First Stop: Château de Chenonceau

We picked up our rental car Monday morning, and headed out of Paris about 11am. It was a fairly dreary day. Our first stop in the Loire Valley was Château de Chenonceau. In general, for the remainder of the road trip series, you have to keep in mind that this isn’t the most beautiful season for these places. It’s not sunny, and the gardens aren’t bursting with flowers and color, but it’s also not bursting with people so S is loving it. But, these grayish skies make this château in particular look a little more dramatic and foreboding.

This  château was built in the 1500s. It is beautiful and one of our favorites from this portion of the trip (and perhaps yours – you be the judge after you see the rest). Walking up to it, it looks like it belongs in a fairy tale.

It has an interesting history. The two most notable things for us were:

  • It has a history of women that heavily influenced the construction and development of the place over the years
  • The château straddles the river Cher. In WWII, the river was the line of demarcation between German-occupied France and the “free” side and the château was used to smuggle individuals to the free side.

Enjoy this first stop. More to come…

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