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Valley of the Chateaux


The Chambord Chateau in the Loire Valley, France

The Loire Valley in central France is filled with old chateaux, all elegant and some magnificent. We drove south of Chartres toward Tours and into the valley along the river. It was an enchanting drive! We drove past vast farm fields, mostly tilled for the winter, but some already sprouting winter grains. The trees were turning yellow gold, and we were thrilled to drive under tree archways along our sometimes one lane roads. Through tidy French villages and towns we passed typical French homes and buildings with stucco and brick (sometimes stone) design. We saw thatched roof farm homes with cattle and horses. It was a delightful drive. In one particularly picturesque village, we noticed a patisserie across from a small park. We stopped and smelled the fresh baguettes from the bakery oven. We could not resist ordering a sandwich of cheese and ham, and we were glad we did—delicious! 

Our highlight of the day was our time spent at the grand Chambord Chateau. French round towers with round pointy tops mingled with tall large square chimneys topped with intricate crowns. The impossibly steep roofs added to the splendor. We are talking huge and intricate here! Balconies overlooked lavish gardens, and the rivers were made into canals with grand effect. The interior was just as grand. A massive circular double helix staircase moved you up to the fourth floor—I counted 52 steps between floors—the ceilings are high. Some of the larger rooms had two huge fireplaces. It was wondrous! 

We continued to drive past other grand chateaux as we journeyed to Tours. We came into the wine region where large clusters of deep purple grapes hung towards the bottom of the vines. Harvest will soon come. 

Our evening meal in Tours was a gastronomical delight. Layers of flavor and intricate mixture of textures were amazing. We ordered two fixed price meals of the chef’s special per couple and shared—Starters: ravioli foie gras on a bed of roasted tomatoes and dark roux with grilled onions, and roasted jumbo shrimp on a bed of small shrimp in cream sauce—Main courses: veal filet with an orange glaze with large morelles in a chopped mushroom sauce, and crisp filet of honey glazed salmon on a bed of scallops in a honey cream reduction—Cheese Plate: seven varieties of French soft cheeses—Dessert: Tart filled with whipped cream surrounded with lingonberries and blueberries with basil, and panna cotta topped with raspberry sorbet surrounded by strawberries and mint. We were also served pre-starter appetizers with wonderful French bread. It will be a meal we will not soon forget. We all fell fast asleep in our hotel since we needed to leave before the huge Tours Marathon began near our hotel the next morning. WEG 

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