This weekend (meaning November 7th and 8th, I wrote this a while ago) I visited the Loire Valley with IES. We left early Saturday morning and got home late Sunday night.

Chateau de SerrantSaturday we started off with Serrant, a beautiful but lesser known and private chateau.  Because it was private it is not always open to the public and might require guided tours, but I can’t be sure. It was very pretty and full of interesting details and pieces of art. Because it is private it also has an extensive collection of rare and interesting period furniture that is original to the building. Apparently the Queen of England stayed there in the 80’s, something the chateau owners are very proud of because they keep her dressing room full of pictures of how much stuff she brought and added her to the autograph wall in the library.

DSCN2622 - CopyNext we headed to Aizay-le-Rideau, which was pretty and was an unguided visit. We got lunch in town and then visited the chateau. It was interesting but didn’t have a lot to offer since it was public.  There wasn’t a lot of furniture or art in the building and no guided tour. But it had beautiful grounds providing excellent photo opps. And there was actually had a little fall color going! (You can’t see it here, but just to the right of this picture is a lone tree with bright red leaves that I took lots and lots of pictures of because I was having a little fall withdraw.

DSCN2721 - CopyWe moved on to the Chateau de Villandry to spend the sunset at the gardens. The gardens were very pretty, even in November. There were some grapevines (I hear the grapes were good but I didn’t care for them), lots of interesting vegetables (including pumpkins!), a maze, a playground (obviously where we spent most of our time) and even a few flowers.

We spent the night in Tours and played a lot of cards, which was really fun because I didn’t know any card games, but now I do!

DSCN2818 - CopyThe next morning we left nice and early for Ambroise, which was one of the more striking chateaux since it was part of a medieval fortress. The picture doesn’t do justice to what a castle Ambroise really is.  There are walls and gates surrounding the entire complex and holding it above the city. Unfortunately much of it has been destroyed and only a small part of the original building remains standing, mostly from the Renaissance era. However it had a lot of history to offer, including the fact that DaVinci spent the end of his life there. After the tour we grabbed lunch and headed to Chenonceau.

DSCN2892 - Copy Finally, Chenonceau was probably the most famous chateau we visited. It is known for its many arches spanning the river. It was very pretty, both inside and out, and retained a lot of its original flooring (which I was practically drooling over) and other interesting details. Unfortunately the facade was undergoing construction (as you can see on the right) but this view was still pretty. We had a lot of time there so we spent a good chunk of it exploring the huge grounds, which included a vegetable garden, some donkeys, gardens, a maze and some woods. Since it was freezing and everyone was finished early we left early to go back to Nantes.

When we got home we got some pasta for dinner at Mezzo, which is one of our favorite fast-food restaurants, and went home to catch up on sleep before classes today (aka Monday November 9th…)!

Sorry for the late post, but that’s what you get when the “draft” feature is available and I forget about it!

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