From chateaux to wine caves…

As we drove into the Loire Valley yesterday, we were stunned to see the lavish chateaux everywhere. We expected vineyards and quaint villages. Instead, these ‘getaway lodges’ for the rich and powerful litter the countryside.

You could spend days here visiting chateaux, and some people do. We popped into Chambord Chateau for a look around…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Chambord Château: just a humble hunting lodge really.

Chambord’s tricky staircase… and EB playing Where’s Wally (aka Where’s Poppy Frank)

Set on a mere 13,000 acres of forested parklands, complete with rutting stags and more, the chateau has enormous fireplaces in every room – but it still looks like a drafty, uninviting old place to stay in.

Which is probably why King Francois I didn’t spend much time there after it was built.

Chambord’s double helix staircase was brilliant. Two open parallel flights of stairs are wrapped around a hollow core.

So EB and I could enter the staircase on the same floor, but from opposite sides, and we could see each other walking up and down…but we’d never cross paths. Spooky.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

That one’s going straight to the pool room, Henry.

And then there’s the pool room… I mean, trophy hall.

These (pictured) are just a few of the ‘decor peices’ hanging around the chateau.

This is probably the best-known chateau in the region, but there are better – or so we’re told.

One chateau was enough for us, and all those stairs had worked up a thirst…

But finding cellar doors that are open on a Thursday afternoon – that’s the real adventure.

We finally came across the Cave des Productuers de Vouvray, and took the tour to find out about the methode traditional and (of course) try the fabulous final product.

Hmmm, chateaux or caves? We are definitely bats…

PS: We’re staying in a chateau ourselves for a few days – Chateau les Muids. But this one is way smaller and only has one deer head on the wall. Phew…

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