A Travellerspoint blog

Chateau Hopping

.....with Madeleine and Antoinette

sunny 97 °F

My mother had a thing for the French, she was Swiss but chose to go French with our middle names. I've been blessed with...Madeleine and Erica was given Antoinette. We love the names and always have and it seems to be very fitting ..... especially here in France. We really feel like we belong here. We are heading to the Loire Valley and all I can do is wonder if we had lived in these times...which Chateau would we have been lucky enough to live in.

Chateaus are everywhere in the Loire Valley. Chateau de Chenonceau and Chateau d'Amboise are the two chosen for today's itinerary. They are located on the Cher and Leroux rivers. Chateau de Chenonceau actually stretches across the Cher River and has a 197 foot gallery built over a series of arches. The rooms are extravagantly furnished and the formal gardens are beautiful. Henry II had two mistresses. Everything relates to these two women, their lives intertwined in this Chateau and I'm sure some days were better than others as their lives progressed... but the Chateaus....are breathtakng. Each woman even had her own formal garden. I think this is my favorite. So I'll rename this one: Chateau de Madeleine. Erica really liked "big nose's" hunting lodge....so how does Chateau de Antointte sound? I think they both sound fabulous and I know I can speak for both of us when I say this...all of our friends and relatives are welcome to come for some rest and relaxation at anytime. Just let us know so that we can tidy up before you get here.....you know, we need to dust and vacuum,mow the lawns. We may ask for a little help from you tending to the flower gardens... other than that...we think you'll love it here.

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We also make a stop in Amboise to visit the Royal Chateau d'Amboise. King Francois I is most closely associated with this beauty and was friends with Leonardo da Vinci. Everyone knows Leo....he's a sculptor, an artist, an engineer, and mathematician and so much more. So..if you did get invited to one of the party's at one of our chateaus, you wouldn't have been surprised if you did run into Leo. The artist is buried in the chapel here in Tours. Other famous people who loved Tours: Winston Churchhill, Thomas Edison, Edith Piaf, Ernest Hemingway (another fav and whose haunts I visit every chance I get) and many others. And... now we are here!

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Here's a fun fact: if you want the purest form of French for the French language, you'll find it in Tours. There is no local accent!

And here is a French riddle:

Do you know what David, The Thinker, is thinking about?

He's thinking about where he left his clothes.

Do you know why Mona Lisa is smiling?

She knows where he left them.

And one piece of French info...Mona Lisa is the most famous painting in the world....ever!

After picking up the famed baguette, some liver pate, almonds, salami and some fruit...we are having a nice picnic for dinner. Two pastries from the Patisserie round out another wonderful day!

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Posted by Linda Fluckiger 15:27 Archived in France Tagged chateau de amboise chenoceau Comments (0)

The Loire Valley

Chatres and Chambard

sunny 95 °F

Touring the Loire Valley is an experience that puts you back in the days when Kings and Queens were in power. The castles, churches and basillicas are rich in history. Chatres is home to the greattest Gothic cathedral in France. It was built in 1020 and is famous for a color interwoven throughout its beautiful stained glass windows....Chatres Blue. This color is reminiscent of the forget-me-not flower. The "Veil of the Virgin" relic is preserved here as well. This cathedral is also unique in that a labyrinth was laid in tile in the main assembly hall. This is a true beauty,

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Preservation of France's history is a priority. Twenty percent of taxes are used for this purpose. The large collection of stained glass windows as well as the finely detailed lace carvings behind the choir have just been cleaned. This job is just about complete..it has taken ten years. Soon the cleaning of the exterior will begin.

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Next on the castle tour is the unique residence of Francois I a.k.a. "Big nose" (because...you guessed it!) .....Chateau de Chambord is believed to be the largest residence in the Loire Valley. This castle was built by 1800 men and master masons, contains 440 rooms and since Leonardo da Vinci was a friend of Francois, rumor has it that he helped with the design. This gem was not the King's royal residence but his hunting lodge!

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Following a beautiful ride in the french countryside..a chocrodite cave in Tours is where we stop for a wine tasting. This cave is carved out of limestone and a welcome relief from the 95 degree day we are experiencing. A nice French guy with a nice French accent gives us a tour. Unfortunately, we did not learn a thing. His accent was so strong that not even one word was recognizable...not for lack of trying on his part. I admire the fact that he is doing what he does. I hope someday to learn French...and I wonder how easy it will be for me to give a tour of a wine cellar in French!

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Tonight we go for dinner at Leonardo da Vinci restaurant in Tours. It's a fun little place with Leonardo standing by the staircase and reproductions of some of his inventions hanging from the ceilings. Of course, Mona was there! We have fish with a basil cream sauce, penne pasta and grilled vegetables. Baked Alaska finished off the night. Delish!

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We stroll through the old part of town a bit after dinner...charming!

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A dip in the pool and a good nights sleep and we will be ready for more chateaus tomorrow!

Posted by Linda Fluckiger 15:27 Archived in France Tagged chateau de chatres chambard Comments (0)

Getting on a jet plane...

...to France

sunny 90 °F

On the road again, this time to France with my sister for our annual birthday celebration. Smooth flight to Charles de Galle airport.... It is so crowded that we don't immediately find our driver but eventually it all works out and we land at our hotel in Paris. Of course, arriving so early in the day, our room is not ready yet, too bad! So...on the advice of our guide we walk to Luxumberg Garden. What an unexpected treat! We get a little taste of the streets and that beautiful French architecture, which is striking- it catches your eye at every turn.

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At the gardens we decide to have a bite to eat and stop at a garden cafe. We sit down, read the menu, take pictures. The waiter runs back and forth (one waiter) never comes to take our order so after awhile we decide to move on. We treat ourselves to glacé (ice cream) which hits the spot. When we return to the hotel we get our room keys, decompress and step out for a bite to eat at a local cafe. Here is one of the situations we ran into. We walk into the restaurant. Nobody comes to seat us. We wait....... and wait. We assume we should seat ourselves...which we do. Again, we wait. The waiter is running around but never notices us. We decide to get up to ask if we need to be seated or do we choose a seat..? We are seated. . We wait for menus. They finally come. We make our choice, a starter called Pounti (a savory cake made with veggies and pork) over a mixed salad with a house dressing. For the entree we both opt for the salmon with a vanilla/almond cream sauce and mixed vegetables with a balsamic glaze. With that we also ask for two glasses of Chardonay.

A waitress comes over takes our order and brings us the wine. Time passes .....it's been so long that we start to wonder if we've been forgotten. The starter finally comes and it is delicious! Again...(tic-toc, tic-toc)....nobody comes to our table. As New Yorkers and of Swiss decent...this isn't working too well for us. We are thinking of asking for the check and heading out thinking they may have forgotten us. All of a sudden, the waiter comes and asks if we'd like anything else. "No, thank you" we say assuming that something got lost in translation and it was understood that we may only have wanted to order the Pounti and the wine. At this point it is quite late, we are soooo tired and jet lagged and are very ready to get back to the hotel. Since we are stuffed from the appetizer, we actually hope there is a misunderstanding. BUT, guess what....here comes the waitress with two plates. It's the fish! Omg! Now it will be another hour by the time we eat and get the check. We immediately ask for the check. We take a few bites but can barely eat our dinners (although delicious) due to over-exhaustion, heat and jet lag and the filling appetizer. We immediately go up to the waitress to pay and we're back in our rooms before we know it.

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We realize we really need to chill. The French take their time and spend hours over their food and drinks. Its a religion here and is the way to go. They take their time. They relax...and enjoy. We are watching the clock, shoving down our food, running around like maniacs. We aren't used to the relaxed pace or the customs of the French yet but I think we'll get the hang of it.

It's only day one.

Posted by Linda Fluckiger 15:26 Archived in France Tagged du jardin luxumberg pounti Comments (0)

A Saturday in the Country

M & D Collective

sunny

I saw a local advertisement regarding a unique venue near our neighborhood called M & D: THE COLLECTIVE and decided to check it out one Saturday afternoon. Inspired by the local talented creators, makers, farmers, and chefs in the area of upstate NY surrounding the M & D farm the Collective is a series of seasonal curated markets, workshops, and dinners that display the bounty the area has to offer.

The Collective features vendors of handmade goods along with farm to table food purveyors amongst the backdrop of an idyllic farm with 1940s barn, English and Mediterranean gardens, and pond. Peruse the market, lounge by the pond, take in a workshop, and explore the grounds. We did.

Here are some photos of our new find!

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Posted by Linda Fluckiger 02:45 Archived in USA Comments (0)

"Here's looking at you kid"

....homeward bound....

sunny

It has been a fun-filled, adventurous few weeks packed with so many interesting facts, food and experiences I don't even know where to start....but I think the blog and the photos speak for themselves.

We loved every minute and the only other thing I can think of saying at this point is thank you to Mohammed, our wonderful guide.

and to Morocco, I'll say....

..."here's looking at you, kid!"

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Posted by Linda Fluckiger 09:31 Archived in Morocco Comments (0)

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