Thursday, April 09, 2009

The chateau of the Loire Valley

We spent the day visiting two chateau and I think two is enough. We visited Chambord which was a royal chateau and simply huge but not nearly as interesting or elegant as the Chenonceaux which was built by one of the kings mistresses; with the kings money of course! Caron says that you can see the womens touch in the architecture and that quite often mistresses wielded more real power than actual queens which seeing as the queen at this time was Catherine De Medici means that it must have been quite a powerful woman.

In the centre of the Chambord chateau is a double helix staircase which is rumoured to have been designed by Leonardo Da Vinci who stayed his final years in this area. It really is quite impressive and at the price 10EUR per person, it ought to be. When we went across to Chenonceaux we decided not to go into the actual chateau and only to have a look at the grounds but the frenchies were one step ahead of us, we had to pay to get into the grounds and the chateau was thrown in for free so we paid another 10EUR each which brought it to nearly R600 entrance fees for two of us for one day.

I really enjoyed Chenonceaux (below), much more so than Chambord (above), perhaps because it is visually more attractive if a little less impressive in the size stakes.

On the way out from Chambord we caught a 'rare' sight of a wild boar which looks sort of like a warthog but bigger. They seem to get quite excited about this here and there are a number of animal sightseeing venues which, needless to say, we are avoiding like the plague!

Down in the kitchens of Chenonceaux I caught Caron at the butchers block, I don't know whether it was an expression of some unexpressed desire to be a butcher or if it was simply stress relief. It's a bit difficult to see but the butchers block is seriously worn down.

The great electricity and internet access debate rages on in my head. The going price to have both electricity at a campsite and internet access is about 10 EUR per day which I find exhorbitantly expensive but as a traveller, they pretty much have you at their mercy. Imagine paying R3000 per month to be able to charge a laptop and browse the internet! This annoys me but there is little I can do, I thought I would be clever and buy access to orange hotspots so we have access but we can't find any hotspots. In an effort to find one we went out of our way to a Formula 1 but it doesn't have an orange hotspot. The only one in france not to have orange internet access according to the proprietor who was less than accomodating and helpful.

I finished the day of with some stress relief and cycled from the campsite down to the Loire river and then along the river for about 10km which, because it is so flat, is quite hard work. So there I was cycling along the Loire with the fading sun throwing its light over the river and onto the chateau on the other side. There are definitely worse ways to end a day.

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