It’s time for a Summer holidays road trip! I spent last week exploring chateaux and their amazing gardens (so in other words I was pretending to be a princess… And I loved it).
We drove west for 7 hours to the very pretty Loire Valley, in the middle of France. The first chateau we visited was only a few minutes drive away from Fresnes (the tiny little village we stayed in) which is in the centre of France. Cheverny Chateau had very pretty gardens and a delicious vegetable garden plus I really liked that it’s exterior was symmetric. Do you think having things even and symmetrical makes things look prettier or is it just me being a perfectionist?
Anyway after Cheverny we headed towards to Amboise to see the markets, have lunch, visit another castle and explore gardens dedicated to Leonardo Da Vinci (who lived part of his life in this area) but we had a minor detour on the way because we spotted some sunflowers fields. YAY!!! We past so many fields full of them while we were driving along the highway, but this time we were traveling on a little country road so we could easily pull over and spend some time taking photos. I was so happy. It was just a sweet little moment in time. I actually think it’s impossible not to smile when you see thousands of those big, pretty, yellow blooms.
As if flowers, castles, markets, gardens etc weren’t enough for one day we had a spectacular afternoon adventure planned… A sunset Hot Air Balloon ride!!! Floating above the world is such a lovely experience. It’s certainly something I will remember forever.
During our time in the Loire Valley we also visited the following chateaux…
Chambord, which is one of the biggest castles in this area with over 400 rooms and 80 staircases – ridiculous right?!
Chaumont sur Loire. I loved this chateau because it really looked like it was from a fairytale. Plus the gardens of this property were incredible. Each year they run a International Garden Festival where designers create their own interpretation of a specific theme (this year it was the seven deadly sins) and most of them include great sculptures too. I really enjoyed strolling through these works of art.
Chenonceau Chateau. It was actually one I had researched previously (yes I know that sounds rather grandma-ish but I found it’s history amazing!!). It was an overcast day so unfortunately I didn’t get the prettiest photos but it’s built on a river (who thinks of building a castle on a river?) and we visited it by boat again the next day. The castle was used in the First World War as a hospital and due to it’s location on the river in the Second World War it was be used as a passage to a safe zone from the Germans. It’s privately owned by a family who had one the first chocolate producing companies in France. Chenonceau has an incredible interior (certainly not my style but I appreciate the grandness of it all). It’s kitchen was amazing and it had a great vegetable and herb garden and of course a very pretty flower garden too. And just because I’m obsessed with flowers that I am I should add the chateau employes two florists full time just to create the floral arrangements that are displayed throughout the chateau. Sounds pretty perfect to me- clearly this castle was one of my faves!
Villandry. This Chateau was more about the gardens than the castle itself. I understand gardens and castles aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but I’m pretty sure everyone would think these gardens are pretty spectacular. The upkeep on these must be so very time consuming! I was happy to read that this chateau has started going green and they have great systems in place for irrigation, weeding and fertilising.
One day we even visited a zoo. I can honestly say it was something I NEVER imagined I would do in France although we all enjoyed it, especially the girls as they love animals. Seeing Koala’s and Kangaroos was by far the strangest moment of my trip so far. (Btw it’s also very strange to be able to take Faya [the girls golden retriever] into a zoo. The leopards were quite confused).
And that sums up my experiences in the Loire Valley. It’s somewhere I would have never traveled myself… Honestly I didn’t even really know about it until a few months ago but I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to see it all. Pretending to be a princess has been a lovely part of my French adventure. x