We had a leisurely start in the morning, as we knew our check-out wasn’t until noon. We enjoyed a light breakfast of croissants and fresh raspberries. After a little belly-rubbing for Sam, we got our things together and said goodbye to our hostess. The only major thing on our agenda for the day was a visit to Chateau de Chenonceau. Our road map book suggested that there may be a nice view point on a less direct route, so we decided to try and look for it. We stopped briefly to take advantage of a relatively inexpensive diesel price and pick up a bit of food at the supermarket. Unfortunately, we were unable to find the advertised view point, thus we headed off towards the town.
Pulling into the parking lot of the Chateau, it began to dawn on us that Chenonceau was on a much larger scale than any of the other places we’d visited. D estimated there to be a good 300 cars parked, having arriving from all over France, as well as Great Britain, Belgium, Spain, Italy and Switzerland at the very least. Slightly daunted, we had a little picnic of cheese and bread along the moat before entering the madness. Delicious camembert firmly in belly, we braved the ticket office, which was positively swarming with people. A glance through the gates at the long avenue leading up to the chateau confirmed our suspicions—it was going to be very busy. After standing in a rather slow-moving line, we opted to purchase our tickets through the little automatic ticket dispenser. Though they didn’t list a “student” price on the dispenser, they did provide the child (9-18) option, which we decided to purchase as it amounted to the same price as the student admission. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to faze the ticket entry people (we speculated as to whether we perhaps just looked 18 years old, but that seemed less plausible). Much to our dismay, the chateau was having a bit of work done on its entrance, which did impair our view of it. We walked along the edge of Diane de Poitiers’ gardens to a terrace that followed the River Cher. This afforded a more impressive side view of the chateau—particularly impressive in that the chateau actually was built over the river itself.
We admired the gardens before finally giving into the heat and entering the cooler confines of the chateau. Inside, however, was a madhouse of people, the likes of which I hadn’t seen since Versailles or even Paris. D put on his Zen face, and we wandered the halls of the castle. Inside, the chateau was sumptuously furnished, with numerous bedrooms and ornately carved fireplaces. The kitchens were in the bowels of the castle, and D was particularly excited to see them. There were separate butchery and baking areas, as well as a massive stovetop and fireplace. After squeezing our way through tour groups and families, we made it to the long, checker-floored gallery for a handsome view over the Cher. We toured the rest of the floors before heading back out into the sunshine and back down the long drive to the car. From there, we made our way to Saint-Georges-Sur-Cher, about 10 minutes from the chateau, to find our lodgings for the evening.
We eventually found ourselves outside its large gates. Our host buzzed us in, and we drove up the driveway to the house. Of all our B&Bs thus far, Prieure de la Chaise was certainly the most impressive-looking—housed in a 16th century manor (with a turret!) with its own chapel and wine-making facilities. We were a bit early for check-in, but thankfully our room was ready. Our room was tastefully-decorated, and kept with the old word theme of the manor. The only somewhat startling issue for D was there didn’t appear to actually be a door on the bathroom. The bedroom and bathroom were separated by a very heavy and ornate curtain. This was somewhat ironic considering that to get into our room, there was the initial door, which actually took you through a little closet area, and then another door for the bedroom. D mentioned that they had the appropriate number of doors, but just that they needed to be re-distributed slightly. We learned that we weren’t the only Canadians staying there that evening—in fact we were one of 3 couples from Canada. We took a walk around the property, checking out their gardens and pool. To cool off, we decided to go for a little dip, gratefully to have an opportunity to use our swimsuits which we’d been carting around with us. The water was deliciously cold, which made laying out afterward all the better. Our hostess, a commanding French lady who had a bit of a dragon lady feel to her as D put it, recommended we head a couple of towns over to Montrichard to have dinner. She made a reservation for us, and we were soon on our way.
We drove across the river into Montrichard and quickly found our intended restaurant. We sat out on their patio, at which point our waitress brought us some Kir to drink as an aperitif (compliments of the house for being referred from Prieure de la Chaise). D had something like a paté (but baked) for an appie, while I enjoyed some tasty salmon terrine. For mains, D went with veal, and I had perch in a creamy garlic sauce that was delicious. We also sampled a small bottle of the local white wine. Finally, dessert consisted of something akin to a mascarpone tartlet with fruit. Stuffed to the brim, we made our way back home and relaxed for the evening.