A Day in the 16th Century

Tuesday, June 15 – Chenonceau: We woke early to have breakfast at the hotel and be ready at the door of Chambord at 9am. We spent the first half-hour sharing the chateau with six others! It’s an enormous place with many well-furnished rooms and the famous spiral staircase perhaps designed by Leonardo when he was living nearby at Amboise. We had seen it before (Cheverny as well) but this time was a great improvement. Cool with sun and no crowds! Here it is from the terrace of our hotel (the chateau, and hotel, sit in a hunting park as large as the city of Paris!):

After two hours we left, headed to Cheverny, a smaller chateau (of the early 17th century) in the same family since the beginning (they still live on the fourth floor!). The interiors were the very best, all Louis XIII, with the occasional slip (here a 19th century solid oak sideboard in the dining room).

It was then time for lunch, and since we had made dinner reservations for tonight at our hotel, we opted for a picnic to eat up the half rotisserie chicken we’d bought in the Marais in Paris. (Did I mention the fabulous electric cooler we bought to keep things (like beer) cold? See “Accumulated Wisdom” page for the details.) We decided that the grounds of our third chateau of the day (Fougeres-sur-Bievre) would be perfect, but there wasn’t a grocery in sight. Deb inquired of the local barkeeper who sent us off to the second village over where there was a fine medium-sized hypermarket (rather enormous for its location in the middle of nowhere). We bought some washed greens in a bag, some strawberries, a tube of mayonnaise, and the usual daily stuff and repaired back to the chateau to make lunch. Here’s Deb dashing to get out of the picture:

Cutting up shallots for the salad dressing; our lunch table:

Fixing strawberries (the same aerosol whipped cream still in the cooler):

Dessert was some fine chocolate from a famous chocolatier whose factory-showroom we passed:

By now, it’s 3:30p and we tour the small chateau, built as a military fortification and set up to demonstrate to the abundantly present schoolchildren just how such a building was put together — marvelous exhibits and uncovered superstructure.

Our fourth and final chateau of the day was Chaumont, in a lovely situation on the banks of the Loire, but mostly in original (decrepit) condition with a few early 20th century furnishings. The big deal here is the garden exposition which draws people world-wide: very nice but we’ve already seen a ton of terrific gardens today.

At 6pm we drove into our hotel, a major splurge since they had only the most expensive room unbooked when we called yesterday. We had a nice-enough dinner in their country-style dining room with country-style service.

Onion soup and fish terrine:

Medallions of pork (with canned pineapple!) and nuggets of lamb:

Finally, for dessert, Deb got her long-sought mousse au chocolate:

One Response to A Day in the 16th Century

  1. Niki says:

    Hi Deb and B,
    your comments on Clemanceau and Chiverny reminds me of the time spent at each chateau on the Loire valley in the seventies. I can imagine that staying nowadays at the chateau itself must be over the top expensive.
    The gardens are indeed splendid. It seems that even when there is no garden, just grass and a simple ornament like a bench placed in a special way that only the french can create the very elegant landscape. Just like the food arranged on the plate creates still another elegant landscape… and even in a simple country restaurant.

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