Chateau tour Stop 1: Chenonceau
Chenonceaux Travel Blog› entry 4 of 19 › view all entries
The most touristy thing one must do whilst in the Loire Valley is do the Chateau tours. Why? Because it's not only why people come here, but it's the most convenient if not the most economical way to see the region. I would say the whole concept is a bit expensive, and in some places I thought the chateau prices were a rip-off, but having said that, there are some things in life you've just gotta do!
I was quite upset with the tour company to start off with - the tour was to start at 9am and they didn't move till nearly 945am. Why? Well, apparently they normally leave by 9am and pick people up at Amboise which they didn't have to do this time, so it's "ok" to start the tour at 945am.
Our first stop of the day was the Chateau de Chenonceau which has a splendid setting, but the thing that surpasses it in terms of attention is the story behind it. King Henri II built this back in the 16th Century, and gave it as a gift to his mistress Diane de Poitiers. Historians have always been amazed by the ageless beauty of Diane, some saying that she used magic. No one perhaps was more upset at this relationship than Henri II's wife Catherine. And when Henri II died, Catherine forced Diane out of the chateau, had Diane return her jewels back to Catherine and then made some major changes around the chateau, which included building a 2 storey gallery across the bridge inspired by her native Italy.
Fast forward to Sept 2009 - the tour van stopped for about 45 mins for us to see the chateau and the gardens. The chateau was really nothing to write home about, and thanks to maintenance work, the sad part is that the one Kodak Moment photo that one takes here - by the bridge - a view of the chateau with the 5 "arches" in water was somewhat spoilt because of the scaffolding and all. The garden was very average, but seeing as it was my 2nd chateau, I took lots of pictures. Problem again was the heat. A bit too sunny for me to be standing outside and taking pictures. But I had the privilege of spending time with the Japanese couple which was nice, I had good company and some really talented people to take my photos!
We left after roughly one hour for our next chateau combined with a lunch trip.