In the Loire Valley

The b&b is run by a British couple who has been living in France for over 20 years. Still, they haven’t learned to make good coffee. For a good cup of morning coffee, I should have picked a French-managed b&b.
Oh well, not by bread alone…
So, we started our chateau tour with Chenonceau.
I like the look of the chateau from the river better than its interior. The decor from the Middle Ages is a bit somber for my taste. But the grounds were very nice and the 16th century farm on the premises was just adorable! Yet, the whole place was just a little Disney-worldish. Too picture perfect, too groomed. Actually,the b&b owners and I commiserated about the number of tourists that swept over this country making it impossible to enjoy the real France, so they recommended that we go to the town of Saint Aignon sur Cher and see the castle there. We were told that the castle is privately owned and is in disrepair, but we can walk around it and see its beautiful exterior. So we did.
The castle is dilapidated but hauntingly beautiful! It sits on top of a hill above the village, and a grand curving staircase leads to the courtyard in front of the main facade. The staircase is grand beyond believe, with parts of stone columns supporting its side rails broken off. It feels like a movie set, a set from a ghost movie, actually. I could just imagine a stream of zombies with their slightly decaying faces and matted hair, dressed in tattered evening gowns and tuxedo suits climbing up those stairs lit up with candelabras to Satan’s Spring Equinox Grand Ball.
But if it happened, we were not invited.
Up, at the end of the stairs, we walked through the ornate cast-iron gate into the yard framed by the chateau, the stables, and a watch tower. All the windows were boarded off except for one. We peeked into the room and saw that it was decorated with hunting trophies and had riding gear hanging on the wall. So eerie! As if it was readied for the owners to use it on a moment’s notice.
We had lunch in the village at a lovely place called Le Mange Grenouille. As in many family-run French restaurants, we had a choice of only two prix fix menus. With my limited French, all I knew was that we ordered veal. So the veal arrived looking odd and tasting even odder. Some parts had such weird texture that they seemed uncooked. Well, it turned out the waitress spoke English and she explained that we ordered a local specialty: sliced calf’s head, with whatever was inside – thus the difference in texture. Not my cup of tea.
The last chateau for today was a little baby-castle next to the mama-castle of Amboise, Chateau du Clos Luce. That was where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last three years of his life. He crossed the Alps on a mule to come here at the age of 64, which was like being 94 those days, I think, and, in his saddlebag, carried his three favorite paintings.
Imagine that! The Mona Lisa in a saddle bag!
The chateau and the grounds display models of Leonardo’s numerous inventions built based on his drawings. It seems that he invented everything, from tanks to helicopters. You know what I think he also invented? A time machine. And he came to the Middle Ages from the future. Because how in the world this man in the 1400’s could have such diverse and extensive knowledge of future technology???


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