October 10, 2012

Les Châteaux de la Loire: A Journey of Beautiful Discoveries

Last week, my wife and I went on a quest to discover some of the most beautiful Castles of this region by staying three nights in three different fine hotels. We started with Loiret is a department in North-Central France. The department is named after the river Loiret, a tributary of the Loire. The Loiret is located wholly within the department. Loiret is one of the original 83 departments that was created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790. It was created from the former province of Orléanais.

Our journey started on an early Monday morning after checking out from this disastrous hotel near the Paris airport, we took a car from Avis and went on a 300km journey towards our first destination. Avis this time was very unprofessional. The service we experienced from Avis was shocking.

The unprofessional AVIS:

  • We received the car an hour late, waiting in front of the counter like many other customers with no justified reason.
  • The car received was very dirty and smelly
  • Window wipers were broken. We had to drive more than 600kms with them
  • They made us sign that the fuel tank is full and discovered by mistake few kilometers later that it was not
  • The change oil sign was on all the way
 
Anyway, we continued our route and stopped for lunch at Paul in Aire d'orleans-Saran one of the biggest on the long highway. I love their sandwiches and desserts. The salami French baguette as well as the dark chocolate cake were exquisite.
The organized route inspired by Relais & Chateaux "Route Du Bonheur" itinerary filled every minute of our three days. Hotels, Restaurants, Castles, villages and roads were all on the schedule.
 
 
Three unforgettable days through France's historical most beautiful region.

Hotels we enjoyed, part of Relais & Chateaux: 1st Day: Hotel Lion D'Or: Sologne, Romorantin-Lanthenay

Sologne is hidden under the Loire, South of Orléans. Its capital is Romorantin-Lanthenay where is located the Lion D'Or hotel. It is a famous area in France not only for its Tarte Tatin where it was created but also for its natural environment. It used to be the favorite place for kings to hunt and  is now the favorite place for its sandy land giving a romantic landscape with forest moors, lots of ponds, marshes, heathers clearings and lots willow trees. Check out this village's pictures.

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2nd Day: Chateau de Noizay, Inde et Loire

1560. In order to live their faith freely, against the Catholics acknowledged as being “legal”, the Protestants planned to remove the young king François II. This was known as the Amboise plot. Built in the 16th century, Noizay Château was both witness and theatre of this historic episode and still retains some remarkable traces of those times: a mystical atmosphere is created by the majestic stained glass windows and printed ceiling roses… 

Activities:Golf, Tennis, Outdoor pool, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, water-skiing, canoeing/kayaking, Flying club , helicopter, massages.

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3rd Day: Domaine des Hauts-de-Loire, Onzain

Along the Wine Route in Loir-et-Cher, lies a hunting lodge built in 1860. The ivy-covered walls, the eaves alive with singing birds; here you will find a historic residence located just next to the château … Nature lovers will delight in the charm of this bourgeois residence in the midst of a forest with a private lake and offering “classical-modern” cuisine, as described by the chef Rémy Giraud. On the menu: crémeux of crab in a sea urchin emulsion and jasmine, young pigeon of Madame Lebert, lime soufflé … The wine? A white obviously: Vouvray, Montlouis or Touraine, all you have to do is choose.

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The Castles we visited:

Chambord:

A dream that has long been shared by each and every one of us finally comes true: as a truly extravagant Château in every way and masterpiece of the French Renaissance, Chambord is yours to explore at will. Take the double spiral staircase, which two people can go up or down without ever meeting, and head to the royal apartments of François I and Louis XIV. The floor above immerses you in the world of royal hunts. Continue up to the terraces and you’ll find yourself surrounded by roofing and chimneys forming a fairytale village, as if suspended in the sky. Look down towards the grand canal and … beyond to the wild game reserve.

Cheverny:

The Château de Cheverny is a stately estate and has been in the same family for more than six centuries. Cheverny has always been lived in and every generation has made an effort to maintain and to embellish it with passion. Since 1922 Cheverny is open to the public. Thus the visitor can appreciate the splendor and the delight of life in a chateau. The owners invite you to discover this phantastic and vivid heritage: from the botanical park to the magnificent inside of the château, from the kennels to Tintin's exposition and from the gardens to the forest. Cheverny is also known as Moulinsard or the Marlinspike Hall as created by Herge's Adventures of Tintin. "Le château de Moulinsart est un château situé dans la localité fictive éponyme et imaginé par Hergé pour sa série de bande dessinée les Aventures de Tintin. Tintin y est l'hôte du capitaine Haddock à la fin de la série".

Chenonceau:

Property of the Crown, then royal residence, Chenonceau Castle is an exceptional site not only because of its original design, the richness of its collections, its furniture and its decorations, but also because of its destiny, since it was loved, administrated and protected by women, who were all extraordinary and who, for the most part have marked history. For the historical background, the “Château des Dames” was built in 1513 by Katherine Briçonnet, and successively embellished by Diane de Poitiers then Catherine de Medici. Chenonceau was protected from the hardship of the revolution by Madame Dupin. The iron, but very feminine, fist in the velvet glove has always preserved Chenonceau during times of conflict and war in order to make it forever a place of peace.

Amboise:

The Royal Château of Amboise welcomes you every day of the year. This emblematic monument and its landscaped gardens offer one of the most remarkable panoramas of the Loire valley, and are registered as a World Heritage site by Unesco. Each visit has its own special way of looking at this exceptional site of French history: its political and artistic importance within Europe in the Renaissance; intimate moments in the sovereigns' lives, daily life in Court and behind the scenes.

Every village has a cachet, every castle has a story, every hotel has its charm... An amazing trip!

Categories: Popular Travel



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