Day 12: Chateaux

Well today I sorta broke the bank as it were, my costs were higher than my planned amount per day, but that’s why its good to try to save money where you can, for days like this.

I checked out of my hotel and walked to the station which is near by to take a chateau tour. I really wanted to see Chenonseau. Yesterday had been a bit of a disaster. I should have considered it a lesson learned and tried for the train again, but I didn’t want to waste all of another day sitting in a train station not Chenonseaux, so I paid the 19 euros to be taken to Chenonseau and Amboise castle, though I was supposed to also get a discount on the tickets, though as it would turn out it would be the same amount as for being a student, which I fake pretty well. Anyhow, I tried not to be like my dad and let the extra cost eat away at me all day, and for the most part I was able to remind myself how cool it was that here I was on my summer break in the heart of France instead of toiling away on some program for a summer session course.

Chenonseau is the most beautiful of the many chateau that line the Loire Valley, and was built by Francois I for his mistress, but after his death his wife took possession in a kind of forced trade. The original owner, the mistress, had a large beautiful garden made that has been kept up today based on sketches from the period, for which there are many. The wife after possessing it, had a second garden planted, though a bit smaller. The chateau itself is built in the Renaissance style crossing the Cher river. The place is so beautiful I think I pretty well drained my camera. All of the rooms are appointed in these amazing tapestries, with many rooms. The largest rooms are the “Galleries” which are these two long rooms that are the bulk of the chateau over the river. Interestingly these two rooms were turned into a Hospital during WWII, and because the chateau sat astride the river that divided the occupied north, and the relatively free Vichy France to the south, it was used by many people as a crossing. Entering the chateau there is a small chapel to the left with stain glass windows. The next set of rooms belonged to Diane de Poitier (the mistress). The views from the windows are especially nice. The majority of the other bedrooms are on the second floor, and include several generations of French royalty, as this is where for many years the French throne was. Leaving the chateau itself I walked around the well groomed gardens that framed the chateau, just sort of lazily walking about. Eventually I made my way to the hedge maze that according to Lonely Planet I could “get lost in” however it really wasn’t a deep or complex maze with exits in all 4 cardinal directions and besides that was so short I could easily see most of the maze standing. I then headed back towards the chateau to just soak it in a bit before I was due back at the bus by 11:30.

Our next stop was Amboise Castle, which after Francois I’s visit to Italy was redone in the renaissance style, which gives it a very interesting look because in the center of these old battlements was a beautiful castle and a Gothic church. I had only about an hour to walk around, but that seemed like plenty of time. I did get a bit of a discount here, 50 cents haha…. My first stop inside the castle was the chapel, which is the burial place for Leonardo da Vinci, who spent his last years in Amboise. He had come for the patronage of Francois who he had met and become good friends with after the French time waring in Italy. I then spent the rest of my time wandering around the castle looking at the various rooms where the king and his court spent their time. The view was very nice looking out over Amboise and the Loire river. The building also had a number of very nice examples of Renaissance stained glass. I was also interested particularly in the columns inside with the French crest on them.

Leaving I had a walk down the street next to the castle and had a bite to eat, a strange version of a hot dog that was in French Bread covered in melted cheese with a couple pieces of tomato, as well as a passion fruit and mango Orangina, very interesting.

Returning to the station I had a nice chat with the driver who also travels a lot. He was raving about how nice and how cheap it was to stay in Nepal, and how he enjoyed his trip to the south of India. At the station I went to go buy a ticket to Mt. St. Michel, only to find there was no way to get there today, so I tried for Paris only to find the next train wasn’t leaving till about 7 pm! Ugg so now I find myself waiting for 5 hours for my train that arrives at 8 in Paris. I have a chance to post these updates because I need to pay for internet already to book a hotel as there is no way I could possibly arrive in Paris that late and hope to find an open room. I’d prefer to avoid hostels if I can too, because although they’re cheap and its great for socializing, its horrible for sleeping, and there is much I’d like to do for which I’ll need a good night’s sleep. I’m sure having bad luck with traveling lately, maybe I need to be more on the ball about making reservations and planning. I don’t like being so planned out, but with it only costing 1.50 euros per TGV ticket usually, if I have to ditch my reservation it really doesn’t cost me much.

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