Château Chenonceau, A Real Life Fairytale

We’ve reached that time.  This is my last post about my trip to France.  But I’ve saved the best for last.  Château Chenonceau was my absolute favorite place we visited!  And I think it’s going to be on an upcoming episode of The Amazing Race, which I’m super excited about!  It’s one of my goals in life to go places featured on that show.

My visit to the Château happened on the most perfect day!  The sun was shining.  The sky was blue.  The grass and trees were green.  The air was the perfect, crisp fall temperature, although our tour guide Cindy thought it was a little cold for her liking.  She found it interesting that I described it as a “crisp” day.  I guess she hadn’t heard that English expression before.

Château Chenonceau is a magical place!  When you arrive at the Château grounds, you walk down a lovely, long, tree lined path and eventually the Château comes into view.  And it is breathtaking!  White walls and a blue roof with turrets, spanning across the river.

It feels like you’ve stepped into a fairytale.  A very different castle than Carcassonne, which conjured up images of knights and battle sieges.  Château Chenonceau is more dainty, and reminiscent of princesses and white knights.  Although I suppose the Château isn’t really a castle at all, and more of an elaborate manor house.  It’s still somewhere that I could picture Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty living.

I found the history of the Château really interesting.  King Henry II gave it to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers.  When King Henry died in a jousting match, his widow, Catherine de’ Medici kicked Diane out and claimed Chenonceau as her own.  Later, during the Second World War, the river that its situated on separated Occupied France from Free France, and people would pretend to be going to visit the Château, but really cross over to the freedom on the other side.

Diane’s Garden

Looking at old furniture inside didn’t really do much for me, although I did find the kitchens downstairs pretty interesting.  What I loved most about the Château were its grounds!  I loved how beautiful the outside of the Château was, in its picture perfect setting on the river.  And I loved Catherine’s garden with its beautiful pink flowers.

Catherine’s Garden

You can also explore a sixteenth century farm, complete with vegetable garden.  I absolutely loved this garden!  There was row upon row of vegetables: fresh herbs, kale and different lettuces, green peppers, egg plants, and giant pumpkins.  It made me want to have a garden like that so I could pick produce and eat garden fresh vegetables all the time.  And there were many beautiful flowers in the garden as well.

Château Chenonceau is such a wonderful place!  It’s made me want to visit the many other châteaux that are sprinkled throughout the Loire Valley, which is home to over 300 of them.  But that would be a whole other trip on its own.  If you’re making a trip to France, I highly suggest you include a visit to Château Chenonceau so you can enjoy its beauty and wonder yourself.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about my trip to France.  I’m glad I got to share it with you.  It also gave me an opportunity to re-live it, which is always fun!

There’s something about traveling that makes me love life a little more.  It’s like the more beautiful places I see, the more I appreciate them, and the more I appreciate the beauty that’s found close to home.

Bonjour Tout Le Monde!

I may be home from vacation, but I think my body is still on France time.

The good news?  You can be really productive when you get up at 5am.  It gave me some time to get caught up on my yoga “om” work.

Once again, Michael and I spent twice as long getting to our destination as anticipated.  We barely made it to Montreal due to fog, then had to run through the Montreal airport to make our connection, only to sit on the plane for an hour and be told that the engine didn’t work, so we wouldn’t be flying to Paris until the next day.

I will say this, Air Canada handled the situation way better than the United fiasco when we were trying to get to Hawaii.  A representative was waiting to give us a hotel and meal vouchers once we got off the plane (and cleared customs even though we hadn’t even left the country!).

Instead of making it to Paris Sunday morning and joining our coach tour Sunday evening as planned, we arrived in Paris Monday morning and missed meeting up with the tour, as they had left Paris and were on their way to Burgundy for a wine tasting.  Fortunately, while being stranded in Montreal, we were able to touch base with our tour director, Cindy, who gave us instructions on how to meet up with the tour in Lyon via train from Paris.

I was really disappointed to miss out on that first day in Paris, Burgundy, and initially meeting the rest of our group.  The good news is I discovered how easy it is to travel around Europe by train.  Maybe next time Michael and I will do Europe on our own.

Anyway, despite the initial hassle, the trip was awesome!

We went on Trafalgar’s Best of France tour.  I’ll discuss more about what I like about coach tours in future, but for now I will say that I really enjoyed visiting so many areas in France in only two weeks without having to figure out the logistics.  I really feel like I got a good overview of the country.

The tour took us on a big loop of the country.  We started and ended in Paris and visited the following cities:

Lyon

Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere

Avignon

Papal Palace

Monaco

Nice

St-Paul-de-Vence

Corniche Drive

Eze

Arles

Cafe de Nuit that Vincent van Gogh painted

Carcassonne

Lordes

Basilica on top of St. Bernadette’s Grotto

Biarrtiz

La Rhune

St-Jean-de-Luz

Bordeaux

Libourne

St. Elmion

Chateau Chenonoceau

Tours

Mont St. Michel

Omaha Beach

Giverny

Monet’s House and Garden

Versailles

Paris

I ended up enjoying France more than I thought I would.  I wasn’t sure what to expect and I wasn’t exactly sure what French food was besides frog legs and escargots (neither of which we ended up eating).  I figured there was no way I would like it as much as I liked Italy last year.  To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what France had to offer besides the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the French Riviera.

Ironically, those weren’t my favorite parts!

I absolutely LOVED Chateau Chenonceau and Versailles!  Picture perfect and beautiful gardens!

And we got to stay within the city walls of Carcassonne in a medieval city!

Biarrtiz and St. Jean de Luz surprised me with their beaches right next door to the cutest Basque towns.  I found both places much more charming than Nice, which surprised me because I thought Nice would be my favorite place.

Normandy’s Omaha Beach stunned me with its beauty.  Who could believe that a place so beautiful witnessed such horrors sixty-eight years ago?

And the food!  Since we were on a tour, there were a lot of included dinners, and I didn’t always get to pick what I wanted, which can sometimes be tricky for me, since I am a little “choosy,” shall we say.  But what I liked, I absolutely LOVED!  Baguettes with every meal, croissants for breakfast, nougat and caramels (and Haribos) for a snack, the best cheeses, quiche, delicious ravioli in Nice, the tastiest arugula ever, and the best onion soup I’ve ever had!

Because France is so beautiful that I took so many pictures, I’m going to devote a full post to each of my favorite sites.  I can’t wait to share them with you!