|Subject: Re: Chateaux|
You sound like you're going to have a wonderful trip!
Regarding chateaux - so many to see, so little time. In May 2001 we crammed in a few :)
On one day we visited Azay Le Rideau and Villandry gardens: We first had a picnic lunch that we'd put together by a stream in provided plastic chairs by the river before entering the chateaux as you couldn't bring a picnic into the grounds. Then we walked around the castle before touring the inside. In the afternoon we spent hours in the Villandry gardens (never making it indoors!) - they were amazing. Start by taking the high path up the left of the garden then down and around past the lake and the swans over to the veges and rose arbours :) My favourite chateau gardens by a long way!
The next day we first visited Chambord but only briefly for a walk around to admire the roof and turret line. Then we bought a picnic lunch and had that at a picnic table outside the entrance to Chenonceaux. We spent quite some time exploring the castle and found it very interesting. It is everything the pictures hint and more. The bridge spanning the river is an amazing room with a black and white tiled floor with amazing light flooding in through the arched windows. I immediately wished for it to be my sunny reading room :) I believe it is a gallery now but was once a hospital ward during a war? Then finally we visited Cheverny (only minutes from our night's accommodation) and explored the chateau. Once again the inside of this chateau were amazing but quite contrasting to Chenonceaux as Cheverny is much more modern and fully furnished - I vaguely recollect the guide saying it is still a home?
I have read that at times there are night laser light shows at various chateaux and I think that would have been amazing to see.
Villandry was by far my favourite - the gardens were so amazing, followed by Chenonceaux and then Cheverny :)
Other Loire alternatives - we overnighted in Amboise and exploring the town was wonderful with a visit to Close Luce - Leonardo da Vinci's home. I'm sure there must be many wonderful wineries and troglodytes (sp? The caves where mushrooms are grown?) to explore in the many regions there also! :) Megan Brisbane, Australia