Living like Royalty

This past weekend we went on an adventure with our friends Kathy and Robert Ludwigs. Kathy and Robert (Row-Behr) are from Belgium and we met them when they came to Georgia to visit Kathy’s cousin, Madeline. (Those of you at home you know who I’m talking about.) We have since visited with  K & R 4 times in Europe and Georgia. They have become good friends. Kathy has even sort of talked me into looking into my ancestry/heritage. Hmm…

We met them on the outskirts of Paris as Robert L. does not like to drive in the crazy traffic!

It was cold and snowing but the snow did not last long. I can now say we saw snow in Paris.

Our first stop was Chateau et Parc de Langeais. Church Window in LANGEAISChateau de LANGEAIS

This castle was lovely. We saw furnished rooms and could imagine life back in the 15th century. The tapestries were wonderful. The park overlooks the Loire Valley and even though the gardens  were bedded down for winter you could tell how beautiful they must be during spring and summer.

We ate a light lunch as we were joining Kathy’s long-time friends for dinner.

We arrived at Le Chateau de Veretz with time to rest and clean up for dinner.

Chateau VERETZ Front Facade Chateau VERETZ from Bank of La Loire

Chateau VERETZ Back Entry View from Chateau Veretz Terrace

We were assigned Chambre Etienne . 🙂

Chambre Etienne, le Chateaux Veretz  Bed in Chambre Etienne

The château was very nice, but in need of upkeep. I can not even fathom the amount of money it must take to maintain such a place. All in all I would recommend it as a great place to sleep and visit. The owner was a retired pre-school teacher….We got along just fine, even though she spoke very little English. The castle dog is Hector.  “She” is a hunting dog.

Hector, le chien de Chateau VERETZ

Dinner was at Patrick and Ginette’s home directly across the Cher River. They had a beautiful, cozy traditional French home. The home had just been re-done in the past 3 years and was fresh and sparkling.   The food……Oh My!

Frommage course at dinner in home of Patrick et Ginnette CHARRON in VERETZ

Appetizers, wine, foie gras, wine, chicken and noodles, wine, bread, fromage, wine, dessert and wine! Priceless! We waddled to the car stuffed and satisfied.

Saturday morning we arrived back at Patrick and Ginette’s, piled into two cars and went to visit the wine caves. French Country Home of CHARRON

This region of France is famous for quarrying a sandy white stone.  These blocks are quarried in sheets and then cut into  blocks. The stone is soft but hardens over time when it is exposed to the outside air. The stones are quarried out of the mountainside, leaving behind caves. The remaining caves are then used for growing mushrooms or storing wine. We went for the wine!

We visited Domaine Bourillon Dorleans owned and operated by Frederic Bourillon.

Cave 2 bourillion barrels

The La Loire region is known for Vouvray wines. Inside the caves at  Bourillon Dorleans the walls are covered with sculptures. Some were serious and some were humorous.

donkey in cave

The donkey is teaching the farmers how to trim the vines. fossils in cave marilyn cave

After walking the caves we had a wine tasting…at 9:30 in the morning.

wine tasting

Frederic told us how the local Tourist Bureau had instituted a new marketing strategy. Apparently the Japanese think getting married in a French castle is tres romantique. So now they have package deals: castle wedding and wine tasting tours. Sometimes there will be 40 brides in white dresses inside the cave waiting to get their picture taken.

Next we took off for the town of Tours. Tours is known for it’s wine, St. Martin of Tours,  and Tours Bicycle Races.

Old Town Tours carved building toursOld Town Tours 2

Tours is a large city but the city central is very walkable. We walked around  town and Patrick filled us in on a lot of history. The buildings were outstanding.

We visited Saint Gatien’s Cathedral. The Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Gatien, the first Bishop of Tours, Saint Lidoire, Saint Martin and Saint Gregory of Tours. The church was quite rich back in 13th century and this church was elegant, very detailed and ornate. The façade of the church was missing all the statues. Patrick explained they had been destroyed during the protests several centuries ago. The renovation plans are to restore the original look.

Lunch at a local café was Boeuf Steak et Frites  for Robert H. and Boeuf Bourguignon for me. Kathy had Escargot…..she always picks this! When it came time for coffee I said yes as long as it was American coffee. Our waiter said….”For sure I have American coffee. I am from New Orleans!” He had migrated to Tours after Hurricane Katrina. We chatted about NOLA, Georgia, and Louisiana for awhile before we left for our next stop.

By now it was getting late but Kathy decided we had time for one more castle. And what a castle! We visited Chateau du Clos Luce and Parc Leonardo Da Vinci. This Chateau was amazing. It was well worth the entire trip. The grounds were beautiful, the castle was in great condition and the Da Vinci exhibit….WOW! We wished the grandsons were there to see all the inventions. Leonardo was a true genius.

P1060967 armored tank P1060970

Some Christmas lights in Amboise..

christmas lights amboise

Christmas lights tours

lights at amboise

A late dinner of savory crepes and we were off to bed.

Sunday we enjoyed breakfast at our Chateau and packed up for the return trip to Paris. One last castle to see on the way...Chateau de Chaumont-Sur-Loire. This castle is a 15th century castle and nature park. Many famous people lived here in the past, such as Diane de Poitiers, Catherine de Medici, Nostradamus, and Benjamin Franklin. The park was peaceful and winter plantings were underway… just lovely.

chateau de chaumont chateau de chaumont 2


The horse stables were huge, at least 8/10 times larger than our house. The horses even had their own kitchen.

Horse Kitchen @ Chateau de Chaumont-Sur-Loire horse stable

Lunch on the road and a return ride to Paris. The traffic was not too bad and Robert L. was a perfect driver.  We enjoyed dinner at our flat, called home to chat with Madeline and Morris and introduced Kathy and Robert to our family in Denver via video chat. A very busy but satisfying weekend.

Thanks Kathy and Robert! We loved every minute of the weekend programme designed for us!.