Tuesday, April 6, 2010

So Many Châteaux, So Little Time

Last weekend we went on our last trip with the students before leaving Paris, and let me tell you, it was a doozy. In a good way. But also in a tiring, standing too much in the rain sensory overload way as well. I think I took something like 680 pictures, so it's taken a few days to sort through them all and give you a sampling of all the Châteaux of the Loire Valley. At least the six we saw. Seriously, there was more than I could count in the area, but I think we got a pretty good overview with the handful we saw. So, here's the (very abbreviated) photos of our whirlwind tour:

Our first stop was Langeais. Driving into the town felt like we were the last people on earth because all the shops were closed for lunch and there was hardly anyone on the street of this super small town. After being in Paris for months, it felt great to have nothing going on. The castle was the real deal, complete with drawbridge.

Max on his way to the château.

One of my favorite photos I took in the Château was of this tiny mirror that made me feel like I was in the famous Jan Van Eyck painting The Arnolfini Wedding. I always loved how the artist did a tiny self portrait of him creating the painting in the mirror, and how I have my own little self portrait of me taking the photo.

The best part of Langeais had to be the park out back. After seeing the château we all played on the playground and in the most amazing tree house any of us had ever seen.

After Langeais, it was a short trip to Azay-le-Rideau, which I have to say, in my opinion, was the most beautiful of the châteaux we saw on the trip. Seriously, the whole time I kept saying "Are you kidding me?" It was that amazing. And it was a beautiful day. Good thing we enjoyed it while we could...

Checking out what a château kitchen looks like.

Beautiful views everywhere.

Seriously, I just couldn't stop taking photos. Here's one with Max and Jack.

Skye, Emily, Rosalie and Brooklyn had time to do some acrobatics while the rest of us enjoyed the sunshine.

And my sweet boys both collected flowers for me. The best part of being a Mom is having cute boys give you flowers every chance they get.

Well, the next morning we found out that the beautiful weather couldn't hold out, so we had to spend our trip to Chenonceau in the rain. But, are you kidding me? A château that goes across a river. So cool. And wet.

The gardens sure looked pretty, but were drenched by the time we wanted to take a stroll around.

But a little rain didn't stop Max when he found a hedge maze to conquer. He made it to the middle first, and out the other side before any of us.

Next we were off to Amboise, and though the weather was still cold and rainy, there was a ton to see there.

I loved getting out of Paris to see what I think of as the real France. Beautiful quaint towns and calm, happy, people without all the big city angst and hostility.

Leonardo Da Vinci is actually buried in Amboise and his remains are in the chapel of the Château. So cool to think of all the influences he had on world culture in his life. I was inspired.

And I love these floors. I took so many photos of cool floors in all the châteaux that I may have to make a separate blog post just to show you. They are so detailed and beautiful, especially the ones like these that show the wear over the years.

And then it was off to Clos Luce, the home of Leonardo Da Vinci in Amboise.

My very favorite part of the trip was walking around the museum in the Château with Max. There were a bunch of replicas of Da Vinci's inventions there and he ran to each one and asked me what they did. He saw the first bike, the first water pumps, paddle boats, and so on. There is also a park that has large scale models of his inventions that we spent a little time in, but since it was pouring (with a little hail) it didn't last long. I didn't even get a photo, that's how wet it was, so I stole this one off the internet.

The next morning we went to Blois, which was beautiful, and cool, but I was on kid duty so I didn't get many pictures, but here's some so you see what I mean. It was a bit scizophrenic in it's architecture; the next three photos are all taken in the same courtyard.

Then it was off to our final stop, Chambord. It was the biggest of the châteaux, which a bit ironic considering it was only used as a hunting lodge. Not too shabby.

I love these amazing spiral staircases that we saw in both Blois and Chambord.
At this point in the trip, Steve and I had to do the "divide & conquer" approach with the boys. You can imagine they were getting a little testy and sick of châteaux by this time. I was the one with the camera, so sorry you won't get any more Max and Steve for the trip.

During the war some of the worlds most priceless art was stored at Chambord, including the Mona Lisa. Jack got to look at a blown up version up close and personal.

And by the end of the trip, we were all feeling a bit like Jack did when we were done at Chambord. It was a lot of fun, but totally exhausting.

Who knew checking out châteaux was such hard work?


Christian said...

RE: The mirror.

You probably noticed its rounded shape. It was placed at one end of the dining table. It was designed that way so the lady of the house could see the entire table in the mirror and her servants who would be standing behind her and direct them to attend to guests, all while looking on very modestly. Ingenious.