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Posted By Robin & Jim

We spent about a week exploring some of the lovely towns along the Loire River, and of course sampling many Loire Valley wines along the way.  Spending two weeks in the Burgundy region spoiled us though, as we decided we liked that region's wines a bit better.  The Loire area has a large number of famous chateaus - incredible mansions and small castles built by the ultra wealthy nobles and some of the French kings.  Each one is more ornate and elaborate than the last.  Chambord (below) was one of my favorites, with a roof covered in many different spires.

chambord

Another one that we both liked was Chenonceau, set astride a small river.  It features lovely formal gardens on each side, as well a labyrinth made from sculptured hedges.

cenenceau

Chateau Usse resembled a Disney-style castle, and it was one of the very few where family members still live in part of the chateau.  It had a large chapel set off to one side, horse stables, and of course a formal French garden.

chateau usse

We saw so many chateaus in the area that we got overwhelmed - opulence overload!  But I had never been to France before and Jim hadn't been there in 50 years, so it was good that we could see so much in the time we had.

We enjoyed the large towns (small cities?): Amboise, Saumer, Tours, Chartres, Orleans - they were full of history as well as bustling with business.  The sidewalks had lovely outdoor cafes and modern light rail systems.  But all of these old French towns have narrow streets, and it was typical to see a little Postal van-let stop right in the middle of the street - blocking all traffic - to deliver a package.  The French never seemed to mind this practice - everyone just waited patiently until the Postal worker returned and drove off.

Jim, of course, enjoyed pressing his nose to the windows of the chocolatiers and patisseries - with the brightly colored and artistically decorated confections on display.

 sweet treats

Sometimes he couldn't just look in the windows, and he had to venture inside!

One of our favorite towns was Saumer - we stayed in a hotel along the river that had a courtyard facing a chateau high overhead.  The restaurants were particularly good (or maybe we were just getting better at choosing), and you have to love a chateau that has grape vines growing just outside the walls.

saumer chateau and Jim


 
2 Comment(s):
scott judy said...
Got to tour the Loire valley a while ago. Loved it. Keep going South to Provence and enjoy.
October 22, 2012 8:53 PM
 
Feily said...
Nice pictures! I got to visit those castles someday. They are not far away from Chartres!
October 22, 2012 4:21 AM
 
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