It was a lovely spring in Loire Valley, the Garden of France, the Cradle of the French Language, Vallée de la Loire…
My trip started at Avis rent-a-car in Paris (Rent a car! It’s the best way to explore Loire). Driving on the right lane of the road was quite frightening, as I hadn’t done it for years. After 2 hours trying-not-to-kill-ourselves driving, I and my girlfriend reached Loire Valley and checked in at a beautiful small châteaux, Chateau de la Villaine, for 120 euro per night. It is owned by a retired Dutch couple, Joke and Adrian (She’s not a joke, call her Yo-ke). What you get is worth every euro you spend. Good hospitality, nice room, beautiful chateau, huge surrounding land, plus delicious cookies with your afternoon tea. Life is good in Loire.
If you wish to add 35 euro per person, you then can have dinner at the chateau. Joke is an excellent cook. And the food is of course French. We decided to have it once, together with another two guests from South Africa. It was such a nice dinner and Adrian never stopped pouring the wine.
Loire Valley is famous for its wine. You will find many wineries along the way, and feel free to stop by and taste the wine. I tried it once in Touraine, and found its rosé exceptional. I am not a wine expert, but I love having my every meal with wine, especially whenever I travel to Europe. But remember not to drink and drive, unless you are willing to drive 35 km/hr along the country road.
The main attraction is the châteaux. Numbering more than 300 in the area, there are several unbelievably big ones that you have to see. I decided to go to Chateau d’Azay le Rideau, Chambord, Chenonceau, Ussé, and Amboise. I like Chateau de Amboise the most. It is up on the hill with amazing view to its surrounding town. I also learned that Leonardo da Vinci lived, worked and was buried here, under the Chapel of Saint-Hubert, adjoining the Château, which had been built in 1491–96. His house, which is located in the nearby Clos Lucé (it’s a lovely house! I wish a photographer like me can afford it), connected to the château by an underground passage.
It must have been nice to be a French nobles, I thought, as some of the châteaux (with hundreds of rooms) were even only for summer holidays, or a gift for their wives (as long as you have a hundred servants to take care of you and your property).
I would also suggest you to go to the small towns in the area, like Loches, to feel its local atmosphere. Go to the street markets, town squares or just walk exploring the city.
Last but not least, the food (I love eating and I can talk about food for hours. But since it is a photo/design blog, I’m sure it’s not your best interest 😀 ). For food lovers, French might be the best. For food lovers who also love arts, French is definitely the best. It will satisfy not only your tongue, but also your eyes (and ears, as the waiters/waitresses sound very sexy). Bon appétit!