Nom de Plumage

July 3, 2013

Chateau de Chenonceau

Filed under: Diary,Solo Travelling — nomdeplumage @ 4:04 pm
Tags: , , ,

Another confusing and time wasted day in France.

Because of the season, I missed the opportunity to visit some castles while in France, but I am surprised that the Chateau de Chenonceau is open to visitors. I need no encouraging. I get the 9:22 am train from Gare Austerlitz for a two-hour journey through the stunning Loire Valley to Tours. Not actually knowing how to get to the castle, I follow the signs from the train station to the tourist bureau and waste one hour walking in search of something that maybe existed and if it did, the street signs lead me nowhere. I find someone to help me and they direct to get the train that actually stops at the castle. Problem! I just missed one and have to wait an hour for the next one. Time for lunch.

I eventually arrive at the Chateau after a thirty minute journey and it is 2pm. Some days are just harder than others and I guess this is one of them.

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The train station is between the Chateau and a quaint little town. A short walk to the main entrance to the park where I buy a ticket and explore the little gift shop. Tempting as the gifts are, I am eager to move on. The walk to the castle is along a dirt track that is aligned with beautiful trees on either side. It is unfortunate that there is no foliage on the trees and yet there is something very mystic and beautiful to see the bare gnarly old trees. At the end of the path, the castle comes into view and it is as beautiful as I imagined it will be. Situated on a picturesque site of several acres, there is a little cottage that cannot be accessed by tourists, a maze, manicured gardens, a working vegetable garden, a farm still working and a forest on the other side of the river and a river that flows beautifully under the castle. For anyone who does not know, Chenonceau is the château famous for the spectacular long bridge that joins the castle to the forest on the other side.

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I have always envied stately homes owned and operated by societies élite, their beauty and elegance; but there is also something wrong about living in such large residence during winter. Forget central heating and our modern luxuries, heating in those days was very primitive and castles were always perpetually cold. One has to wonder about the wisdom and price for luxury. But what I cannot take away from this château, is the beautifully furnished rooms and the elegance in its simplicity. There are rooms were I found the room ‘over-the-top’ and none more so then the upstairs bedrooms and the rich red bed coverings and detailed wallpaper. Too much!

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But of all the many rooms within this grand home, it was the kitchen that awed me and made me dream of the possibilities that could be produced here. A large kitchen with stone walls, it is fabulously furnished with utensils and moulds. I envy the copper pots, something France is famous for; and dream of the different moulds that produce delicious desserts. The space is huge and it is also the comfortable. But it is the warm feeling that the heart of a home inspires within me, that really leaves an impression on me.

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I walk the endless acreage and although the season is of hibernation and the flora lays bare, there is something still very beautiful to see them bare and slightly covered in a winters mist. I walk through the bare forest and trample on the blanket of dead leaves. The trees lay bare but with a tinge of green moss that cover parts of the trunk; the only sign of life. Small surprises open up among the forest, hints of lover’s secret meeting haunts (a love chair), or a place for fun (a maze) and stone structures that add some depth amongst the vast expanse. Through it all, the mist hovers low and I smell the crisp air and breathe in the cold, undeterred because the beauty enchants me.

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I have some time to spare before my train back to Tours arrives and it gives me an opportunity to go and explore the little town on the other side of the train tracks. If you can imagine a town with narrow streets, stone buildings, peaceful and filled with shops that cater not only for the tourists, but the locals; then you can imagine a town that is uniquely French and very pretty.





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