French Castle Tour September 27 - October 5, 2013
We made it alive to Paris! Yea!
Not sure what this is behind Evelyn. But there are a lot of them on the sidewalks. Also. The bike lane is on the sidewalk. I learned it the hard way when a girl almost ran me down.
The famous Seine River winds through Paris.
Yes, it is true. Many lovers along the river.
Our tour bus driver, Mustafa, was amazing. Driving the small bus through very narrow streets.
Our evening drive around Paris took us through the night club area.
Too many Paris view pictures to include.
There are a LOT of people in this city!
Our group was dropped off near Notre Dame for a "dinner on your own night". Hundreds of restaurants in the area. Evelyn is having a great time enjoying a dozen authentic French snails! Yum! And, notice the fancy Irish coffee..
Somehow we arrived at the Tower just when the sparkly lights went on.
Versailles is a must see. Many thousands of people visit each day
Many rooms with paintings and statues.
I think this painting is the Last Supper. Huge.
The gardens outside the palace are enormous. Here I was under an umbrella when there was a downpour.
The King, Louis XIV.

He had castles built like crazy. His idea of a fine gift to other kings was a nice portrait of himself. He built Versailles.

Notre Dame
I hope those rivets were not made by the same factory as  the one for Titanic.
Our tour guide Astrid Baur and Evelyn. Astrid lives in Germany and speaks many languages. Her company is European Castle Tours.

Monday our group of 20 goes to Fontainebleau, originally a hunting lodge for nobility. Later made into a large chateau, not as big or famous as Versailles.
Those kings loved the ornate decorations and furnishings. Tons of paintings, tapestries,
All over France, especially in Paris you see these bicycle rentals everywhere. There is a machine and you punch in the bike stall number and I was told you are billed to your phone bill.

Many, many scooters and motorcycles everywhere.

Now we are in Orleans. The old Orleans. I like the town. We got some basic supplies on the way to our Chateau where we will be for the next 4 nights. Picked up some French wine, éclairs and chocolate.

In the Orleans town square we find Joan of Arc. She is a heroine for some French cause. Burned at the stake at age 19.
The Orleans cathedral. We walked inside. Again, ornate. Lots of confessional booths. Smelled musty inside the church. Really old.
We make it to Cere La Ronde and this is our chateau castle. Our group has the whole place to ourselves. No other guests. It has been nicely kept up. Evelyn and John have a corner room on the top floor. Kinda cool to stay in a real chateau. It is in the middle of no where. This will be our base while we go out each day visiting other castles in the general area.
Next day Tuesday 10/1/13. Where does this road take us?
Chenonceau. Pretty impressive castle. It extended over the River. Built in early 1500s.

My favorite part of the tour was the kitchen. You could just imagine the hustle and bustle as the meals were prepared, water and supplies being drawn up the river and boats. The castle served as a hospital during WWI.

Next is the castle at Ambiose. At one time it was huge, but only 20% of original castle is left. Again, really old.
View from the top of Ambiose castle.
Close by is where Leonardo de Vinci lived the last years of his life. He lived well into his 60s which was rare in those days.
His grave was discovered and moved to a remaining part of Ambiose Castle. Da Vinci was way ahead of his time in almost every field: painting, science, engineering, anatomy, etc.
Evelyn tries out one of Da Vinci's inventions. Turn the crank and the tubes bring water out of the river. He invented a lot of stuff.

We then returned to our Chateau, Chateau de Razay, for a break and then to dinner in Montrichard at a restaurant that was at one time a church.

The first castle to see on Wednesday 10/2/13 is Cheverny.
Our group
Evelyn finds a friend. He is a little slow getting up the castle stairs.
Back side of Cheverney. Those old kings were into big gardens.
And, hunting. This chateau still has a lot of hounds.
Click here to see the hounds. They had over a hundred of these hunting dogs.  
Now to Chambord
The King just about used all the French revenue to build his own castle. Started in about 1525.
Leonardo Da Vinci designed it. Very elaborate.

400 rooms. 350 fireplaces. Massive.

Now to Blois. Pronounced like BLAH
The queen is ready for her audience.
View of Blois
Suddenly Evelyn takes a fancy to fireplaces. "Take a picture of this one. This one. This one."
I will not ask you to view very many fireplaces.
And then, dinner on our own in Blois. Evelyn has two orders of escargot and another Irish coffee.
Thursday we go to Villandry. Not the best castle we have seen, but the gardens were fantastic. It was OK to pick fruit so we ate grapes, apples and pears.
Most castles started to be built in early 1500s.
And what does Evelyn see from the tower?
This is just part of the gardens! All organic. Each plot has a theme.
Our final place today was the city of Tour. This is the city Hall.
City cathedral
We did a walking tour of Tour. Typical of France--lots of sidewalk bars and cafes.
Friday we go back to Paris and tour the Notre Dame. Built in the 12th Century. Huge cathedral. Then we had a choice of either going to the Opera House or the Louvre.
We went to the Opera House. Very ornate.
Then on the way to our hotel by the airport we drove by the Arc de Triomphe.
Now it is time to say goodbye to Charlemagne and the rest of the France.

We enjoyed our French Castle Tour.

The End