This is my second visit to the Loire Valley in as many years. Why? Because this part of the world is literally heaven on earth. I figured why not cap off the year with another visit to this bucolic wonderland. Just driving around the countryside is enough to satisfy any visitor. Factor in the grand chateaux, the beautiful villages and the wine, food, and cheese, and you have a formula for the one of the finest experiences available.
If you happen to have a girlfriend, fiancé or wife, this is a destination you’ll want to put on your roster. I guarantee you will find your relationship improved in the process since the Loire Valley is one of the most romantic places on earth.
Seriously people, put this one on your bucket lists. This is an experience you must not miss in your lifetime.
On this particular visit I am featuring some of the lesser known Chateax that most people don’t get around to visiting due to the fact that you can easily consume a week visiting the A-List material. If you’d like to see some of those check out this link from last year:
The garden leading me to my first chateau. I’m hitting some of the smaller and lesser known chateaux this year to avoid the August crowds. So far my strategy has paid off.
YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE:
Given the incessant nature of my chateaux visitations, I have been unable to keep up with the pictures and pretty much all of the commentary, and plan to get caught up on this on my next stop in the Dordogne which should prove less frenetic. I made a decision to visit all 85 plus chateaux in the region in the next few years, and have managed to tally up about 25 so far. So be patient, some of these chateaux have some compelling stories to go along with them. It should be worth the wait. Until then enjoy the pretty pictures and the beauty of the Loire and its chateaux. For last year’s visit see September 2017 in the archives. In that trip the larger, more popular chateaux are featured.
Château Gaillard underwent extensive renovations three years ago in order to preserve the property for generations to come, as well as open it for visitation by the general public. This is a château that is home to the family that owns it, and they clearly spent a fortune putting it into a livable condition. There are pictures in the tour showing the extent of the repairs necessary. It is a delight to pay for a ticket to help subsidize the maintenance of these amazing chateaux.
The beautiful stove in the background is actually a modern gas stove that is used by the family. I suspect at the end of the day the surface of the table is cleared off so the family can use it for dining.
CHATEAU DE VALMER
MARCHÉ DE LOCHES
This fellow took great exception to being photographed and got a bit gobby with me. I explained that I was far more interested in capturing the meat and the boar’s head rather than his sour puss.
CITÉ ROYALE DE LOCHES
AGNÈS SOREL – THE 1ST. KINGS MISTRESS
She met King Charles VII in 1443. Seduced by her beauty, he granted her the rank of King’s mistress. Three daughters were born of this union (Marie, Charlotte, and Jeanne), and a fourth stillborn.
BUST OF CHARLES VIII
AGNÈS SOREL – The 1st. King’s Mistress – Here she lies in her beautifully restored tomb.
Angels kneel by the gothic treatment that surrounds her reclining head.
The Cell of Marie de Savonnières
The inscription “SAVIONNIÈRES” above the fireplace is no doubt linked to the imprisonment here of Marie de Savionnières. The spouse of a councillor to the upper chamber of Parlement of Paris, she was imprisoned in the royal prison at Loches for adultery in April 1690.
GRAFFITI FROM THE LATE 19TH. CENTURY
APARTMENTS – These were the residential quarters of his lordship and his family. These private apartments were no doubt divided up with wood partitions or drapes.
GREAT HALL – In this room the count received, governed and served justice.
CHÂTEAU DE MONTRÉSOR
LE MOULIN DE CHAUDÉ
AN IDYLLIC PLACE FOR A SPOT OF LUNCH IN BETWEEN CHATEAUX
CHÂTEAU DE MONTPOUPON
MOST SMALL BRIDGES OF THE LOIRE VALLEY ARE SPORTING BEAUTIFUL FLOWER BASKETS
VILLAGE OF LANGEAIS
CHÂTEAU DE LANGEAIS
CHÂTEAU DE LANGEAIS – Given to the Institute of France by Mr. and Mrs. Jacques Siegfried in 1904.
CHÂTEAU D’AMBOISE SPECTACLE
CHÂTEAU DE BEAUREGARD
CHÂTEAU DU RIVAU
The estate of Rivau has it all: a fortified castle with its outbuildings and Renaissance stables, along with fourteen different gardens.
It’s protected by a wide keep – complete with machicolations and a drawbridge – and boasts amazingly high roofs, various conical roof towers and a moat. Twenty years of passionate restoration work brought the estate back to its original glory and revealed its truly fairytale appearance.
The interiors of the buildings keep you under Le Rivau’s magical charm: period furniture, wooden chests and dressers, and four-poster beds rub elbows with contemporary artwork by renowned artists who draw their inspiration from imagery of castle life in times past.
The history of Le Rivau is full of heroes: Joan of Arc came to the castel in 1429 looking for good-quality war-horses for the siege of Orleans.
Sun XUE – Unicorn – 2010
Karine BONNEVAL – Châsse Chasse Sucrée – 2014
THE BALTHAZAR’S FEAST HALL
Laurent GRASSO – Studies Into the Past – 2014
Julien SALAUD – Jeanne de Colchide – 2017
The Laigneau family acquired the château in the early nineties. It took twenty years of work and dedication to restore the dilapidated property to its former glory. In many cases the efforts of a good number of French families have helped to do the same throughout France and thus have helped to preserve these national treasures for generations to come.
The Laigneau family occupies the château for about five months per year in the off season. Those lucky kids got to play princess in quite an authentic environment growing up.
CHÂTEAU DE CHINON
WAR CROSSBOW – Reproduction of an English war crossbow of the early 15th. century.
POST MOUNTED CROSSBOW – 16th. century
JOAN OF ARC image used in the US to help fund the war.
FORTRESSE DE MONTBAZON
The fortress of Montbazon was built in 991 AD at the top of a rocky spur overlooking the river Indre. The Cormery monks complained to the King of France of Foulque Nerra’s behavior, as he had seized their land. He first built a motte-and-bailey-castle and later replace it with a stone keep. This fortified place forms one of the oldest feudal castles in France.
DOMAINE DE CANDÉ
Wallis Simpson wearing the lobster dress by Elsa Schiaparelli photographed by Cecil Beaton at Candé in 1937.
OPUS 718 ORGAN – Designed and built by the American organ builder, Ernest Martin Skinner, during the years 1928-1929. It takes up three floors. It included a roll player and had an extensive library of material.
One of the rolls that could play the organ without human assistance.
The pipes on the floor above.
THE DRAKE ROOM – The Duke of Windsor’s Apartment
Coco Chanel once said, “If a woman is badly dressed, we notice her dress, but if she is impeccably dressed, it is her that we notice.”
“You can never be too rich or thin.” This is Wallis Simpson’s philosophy and a rather thin one at that. Clearly the foundation for a good case of annorexia nervosa.
Wallis was admittedly not all that attractive and was also known to be noisy and vulgar on occasion. She is not exactly the sort of woman you would expect a man to give up the throne for, but Edward was not constitutionally suited to the task anyway. His abdication of the throne gave the Brits a better king, and eventually their longest reigning monarch in Queen Elizabeth II. I’d say it was a win all around.
FRUIT ROOM – Fruits would last a long time here in this cool room where they would be placed on the shelves so they would not touch each other.