Châteaux de la Loire

Castles: Chambord, Clos Lucé, Chenonceau

Tour/Tasting: Goat Cheese Farm, Wine Cave

The EDUCO group went on a voyage to the Loire Valley this past weekend.  On Saturday we got up super early and met to get on the bus.  Almost everyone fell asleep instantly on the ride there.

First we went to Chambord  The castle was HUGE, even with over an hour I still don’t think I even saw half of it.  The castle was cold.  These people obviously had lots of castles, because this was not at all a winter castle.  The rooms were very bare, it almost felt like they hadn’t tried to restore it much.  We were given audio guides in French, but in a noisy castle with a mumbling audio guide you held up to your year, not much was understood by our exhausted brains.

Next we went on to Amboise.  The tour guide for the weekend took us to the wrong castle! It was pretty funny.  We eventually ended up at Clos Lucé which is a smaller castle in Amboise and where Da Vinci spent his last years.  The history was interesting and the castle was furnished in replications to resemble what it once was.. We had a tour guide for this castle, and she actually got in a fight with one of the tour guests (not from our group).  The tour guide saw this woman sitting in a chair and she said that it was forbidden to sit in the chairs.  There were signs on most of the chairs but not on this specific chair.  The woman who was sitting was obese and had a cane, she threw a temper tantrum saying she had a cane and needed to sit down, nonetheless the woman stormed out of the room.  Two minutes later, the woman came back in and yelled some more at the tour guide saying that she was unbelievable!  The basement of this castle was where Da Vinci did lots of his work.  There were expositions on many of his drawings and what he has sketched, but never invented.  There were lovely gardens surrounding the castle.  He even had a two story bridge (where the second story went no where) in his pond.

Next we went to a farm where goat cheese was made. We got to see the goats, pet them, and watch them be milked using a machine.  Then we learned about the process of making cheese in the area.  We also got to taste some local cheese.  I ended up buying a taster platter with a friend of goat cheese with different spice combinations.  I ate so much cheese from that platter that I started to get sick! I really enjoyed this experience. I liked learning about the non-city culture of France. Unfortunately some of the students in my exchange program were not as grateful for the experience.  I was embarrassed by part of our tour group who spent the whole time complaining about the smell and the farm.

We spent the night at a hotel in Amboise which had the most amazing brunch ever!!!! They had waffles (which is not a common occurrence in France) and they were like coated in sugar! They also had fresh made crêpes, eggs, bread, etc, with fresh fruit, meat, juices, coffee, tea, etc.  It was truly amazing.  Most French people eat a small breakfast so breakfast buffets are rare!

We then went to Chenonceau.  This castle was truly magical and without a doubt my favorite.  We had amazing high tech guides with ipod-touches that played video and audio for each room.  I highly suggest the audio guide at this castle!  The rooms were immaculate.  There were so many bedrooms for mistresses!  On the top floor, the bedroom was literally all black and you could barely see.  This room was used for mourning lovers past.  This castle was on water.  It actually connected two different pieces of land and at one point, it was vichy on one side and not on the other!

We had a lovely lunch at a fancy restaurant near by.  Both the previous dinner and this lunch gave the vegetarians an omelette, I think that’s the go-to main course for vegetarians in France.  Nonetheless it was a delicious mushroom omelette.  We got wine and cheese and dessert as well!

Lastly, we went to a wine cave (cellar I think would be the term in america? )  It is where wine is made and stored.  We got to learn about the process of making wine, which I had absolutely no idea about.  Afterward we got to taste some wine!  The first two were white and bubble.  They tasted pretty similar and the bubbles tickled my tongue! The second two were also white with the first being more bitter and the second more sweet.  Embarrassingly enough, my wine vocabulary is currently better in French than English!


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