Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chateau de Chenonceau

Looking over the Catherine de'Medici garden toward the chateau.

 Chenonceau is considered by many to be the most beautiful chateau in France.  Built straddling the River Cher, water runs around it as well as through.  On this visit we decided to try something different; a boat ride to view the chateau from the water.

Bill enjoying his Leffe Rosie, a beer with a raspberry flavor.  We will try most anything once.

We arrived early, so had a light lunch at a campground snack bar across the road from the dock.  The majority of the patrons in the cafe were also waiting for the boat ride.  When the time came to board the boat, I gave the woman our 18 euros, but she said "Quatorze"  When I looked puzzled, the reply was since the river was lower, we would only be doing a 45 minute trip instead of 55 minutes.  Guess that's good for a discount!

Looking toward the bow of the boat.  Most of the people were French, but we heard Dutch and British English being spoken.
This damsel fly was bright blue.  I think he was speaking French.
The tour was in French, with guides main focus on the large catfish that live in the river.  He passed around pictures for all to see, with English translations.  There were some pretty good sized catfish!  Would have been perfect fried with hushpuppies and potatoes!  The water on the Cher is so clear you can see the bottom, as well as all the fish swimming by.  We saw some of those catfish  for ourselves!

No catfish, but you can see the bottom of the river.

Kayakers cooling off in the river.  They really had to paddle hard to come back upstream.

Then Chenonceau came into view.  Breathtaking!  Our boat stopped in the water for quite a while, so we could take pictures. Then the captain brought it around and stopped again at a different angle.  We were out more than 45 minutes.
Chenonceau from the water.  Who put that tree in the middle of the picture?
We then drove to the chateau to walk through the building and gardens.  It was a very hot day.  The number of tourists inside the building was staggering, especially in the kitchen area.  Too hot and humid for me!  We went upstairs, where there was more of a breeze though the hallways and rooms.

The wall paper is hand painted.

Too hot to cook, but if it wasn't this stove would do the trick!
There are two gardens named for two of the famous and powerful women who lived here; Diane de Poitier and Catherine de'Medici.  They both loved the same man, King Henri II; Diane was his mistress and Catherine his wife.  After Henri's death, Catherine tossed Diane out and took Chenonceau as her own. Catherine ruled France from here, as Regent for her son.  Catherine was also mother to five daughters, who all became queens through marriage.  Quite a powerful legacy.

Flower filled urns top the wall surrounding the garden.
Silent sentinel, keeping watch for 600 years.
Bill on the down river side of the chateau.  You can walk out the "back door" to stroll along the river and cool off.

On the property, there is also a 16th century farm, which grows all the lovely flowers for the chateau, as well fruits and vegetables used in the restaurant.   We really enjoyed this visit to Chenonceau.

In the farm's gardens, all the pathways were bordered with apple trees espaliered on a wire only 2 feet off the ground.  They were covered in fruit.  What a unique way to grow apples.

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