Castle Tours in Loches and Chenonceau


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I wanted to fill in some of the gaps on our trip to France that I was not able to do earlier.  As I mentioned in a previous post we used Trip Advisor for most of the research regarding places to stay and tour guides.  Using an outside source for information can be somewhat risky and one never knows if the information is actually true for the most part or not.  After our experience with our tour guides and the B&B’s we were very pleased to discover the information posted was spot on.  Our tour guides in the castle regions near Tours were Susan and Simon Walters of Loire Valley Time Travel.  From the moment I inquired about tour availability during our dates of stay to assistance with accommodations both Susan and Simon were extremely helpful and always very prompt to answer any questions.  They are the ones that initially suggested La Maison Jules in Tours for a B&B along with a couple other accommodations.  Both Susan and Simon get a shout out for that suggestion!

Once we had booked with Susan and Simon and explained that we were traveling by train they agreed to pick us up at our door at La Maison Jules.  How’s that for service? :).  From the moment we got in the car, which was a 1956 Citroen (Simon actually switched cars during one of our stops to a 1953 Citroen)  they seemed to know exactly how to explain the history of each area we explored and tie it into the culture and architecture.  The only complaint, and I do mean only complaint, that I had was that it was sometimes difficult to hear Simon over the road noise.  Having said that I also have to admit that my hearing isn’t nearly as good as it used to be!

One thing we really enjoyed about the day was that Simon did not take any major roads to any of our destinations.  The trip had a very rural feel and the scenery was great.  Our first stop was Loches which I would estimate to be about 30 – 40minutes outside of Tours.  The town was small and had a real “community” feel.  Susan walked us through the town including the market (well worth the stop but only open on Wednesday and Saturday) all of the time giving us a history of the city and answering many of our questions which she did very well.  Loches is a very old city with origins back to around 500.  Since I’m not a historian I will not attempt to get too specific but the castle was built during the medieval period and the original walls are still standing.  Also, Richard the Lionheart occupied this castle in the 12th century with his father Henry II of England and it was in this castle where Joan of Arc convinced Charles VII to go to Reims to get crowned.  This boosted the morale of the French and it was during his reign that the French started to take over more control of the area.  In other words, this castle is very cool and is definitely worth seeing.  The city itself was constructed during both the medieval and renaissance periods and you can definitely see it in the architecture.  This is where Susan’s knowledge of the history really started to help us connect the dots from the English rule to French rule and the transition from the medieval period to e renaissance period.  We had one of those “aha” moments and for a couple of remedial historians I would have to give Susan 5 stars just for being so patient with us.  This actually made the remainder of our time in France more enjoyable because we could actually start to see the differences in each town that we visited.

After our walk through Loches we stopped and had lunch which was great.  The restaurant was located in Loches not too far from the castle and served some very traditional French food.  We had plat de jour which included a salad, entree and dessert and a glass of wine.  It was perfect and one of Susan and Simon’s favorites and I can see why.  We were then off to Chenonceau.

The first thing we had to do was learn how to “not butcher” the pronunciation.  I had Susan sound it out slowly and it’s pronounced “shen-non-so” or at least that’s how those of us from the northwest corner of the US would pronounce it.  Some French words are ridiculously hard to pronounce but hey, try to have them pronounce Puyallup!!  Ah, but again I digress.

Chenonceau is incredibly beautiful.  First of all, Simon delivered us to the front of the parking lot and I have to admit being driven to literally the front gate of a chateau like Chenonceau in a classic car was special.  Very nice touch.  Now the chateau.  The original castle dates back to the 11th century but most of it was destroyed and later rebuilt during the early years of the renaissance period.  This chateau is huge and the grounds were our favorite part.  I won’t bore you with the history but this chateau survived the WWI and II wars and was a key river crossing that no one wanted to destroy.  My view is that once both sides saw the chateau, no one wanted to destroy it and not have access to it once they claimed victory.   Made sense to me! :).  We could easily have spent the entire day just walking through the grounds but we have wine to taste so off we go.

The final stop with Susan and Simon was Domaine du Clos Roussely which is located in Ange’ approximately 20 minutes from Chenonceau. We had a chance to walk through part of the vineyard and taste some very good wines. This was a very good way to end the day. The drive back to Tour was about 45 minutes and followed a couple of rivers including the Loire and after some wine tasting was about as relaxing as it could be.  Susan and Simon delivered us right back to our door which after a day of castle exploring couldn’t have worked out better.  An outstanding day!




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This post covers Monday – Thursday 14 – 17 Oct which was our time in Paris. We had a very very nice breakfast Monday morning in Bordeaux and had a chance to spend a few minutes with Daniel and his wife prior to leaving. They only opened their home approximately 18 months ago to B&B guests and are still trying to make the experience better for guests. That’s always a positive when owners continue to make improvements. We were going to take the tram to the train station but it was a nice morning so we decided to walk the two miles to the train station. We arrived about 20 minutes early which is plenty when traveling by train in Europe. The only exceptions would be the larger stations such as in Paris.

Once we arrived in Paris we were quickly reminded that we “weren’t in Kansas” any longer. After having been in the smaller communities of Tour, St. Emilion and Bordeaux over the past week and the casualness and friendliness of the people and culture, Paris is a bit of a shock to the system. It’s a beautiful city with an incredible amount of history but it’s big and very busy.

Out train from Bordeaux to took about 3 hours and 20 minutes and arrived in Montparnasse where we transferred to the Metro to get to our hotel. One thing I will say is that that the Paris transit system is incredible…as long as you stay away during the peak rush hour times. You can go any where at any time although in most case we will walk if possible. Walking gives you the ability to see things you’ll never see on the subway.

Everyone raves about the food in Paris and although we know first hand it is very good we believe the food we ate in Tours and Bordeaux was actually better overall. An exception to this statement was the dinner we had Tuesday evening at Les Rillettes near the area of Saint-George’s. The reviews we read were good but this place was incredible. We ate early this night and actually were able to get an early dinner at 7pm. We arrived to an empty restaurant thinking we had made the reservation for the wrong night. The hostess who turned out to be the owners’s wife spoke very little English, however, enough English to check us in. We were seated and another couple sat down beside us and started speaking in French and we’re thinking this is going to be an interesting evening. The wine was served and it was almost like magic because the gentleman next to us did speak some English and told us he had been to Seattle working as a defense contractor with Boeing. He then told us the owner of the restaurant is their son and after that it was the best evening of drinking wine and sharing stories and eating the best cassoulet I’ve ever had. It was made with Duck confit and a duck and pork sausage and I would go back to Paris just for that.

We also found a great creperie in the Montmartre district called Creperie Broceliande. The owner is Celtic and uses Buckwheat for the creeps. We ducked in here during a rain storm and wow was it a good find. I probably should make a statement that we don’t just happen upon these places most of the time. We use the Trip Advisor app on our iPhone which can be filtered by location, distance from our current location, ranked by order, etc. We have found though to find the really good spots you have to be willing to be a bit adventurous. Sometimes I’m accused of being too much of an explorer but I’ve never got us truly lost…or if I did I would never admit it! 🙂

Anyway we spent the rest of our time in Paris walking in and around the Tuileries Gardens, D’orsay Museum, Luxemburg Gardens, Notre Dame through the Latin Quarter up to Montparnasse to buy someone a pair of Mephisto’s and no they were not for me! The weather ranged from sunny and very pleasant to rainy and windy and reminded me of Seattle’s weather a few weeks back. Overall it was great weather for walking and we managed to put around 6 – 8 miles a day on the feet. With the way we had been eating we figured walking was a must.

Thursday morning we decided to take a cab to the airport rather than the train. We normally avoid taxis but the metro/train connection wasn’t working with our time requirements so a cab made it much easier. We did find out that Paris cab drivers are just as crazy as NYC cab drivers and make for an entertaining ride! We’ll worth the 50 Euros.

Some of you may be wondering why we didn’t see the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Versailles, etc, while in Paris. We were here about three years ago with Andy and Sara and saw those at that time and this time we just wanted to go where the wind took us and that’s what we did. Now it’s off to New York to visit Andy!

Bordeaux city

After the past couple of days on the go we decided to take it a bit easier today. After enjoying breakfast at our B&B and meeting another couple from England we headed out to explore Bordeaux city. Wow, what a beautiful city. There is a tram network that pretty much covers the entire city but Bordeaux is really about walking and enjoying the contrasting architecture. There is quite a mix of Roman, Medieval and Renaissance structures all in the same areas and we really enjoyed just looking. The streets are very narrow which is normal but the planners as far back as the 18th century made a point to preserve the medieval period streets in several areas. The results are that today a lot of these streets are either one ways or pedestrian only. There is one street named Rue Sainte Catherine that is pedestrian only and is claimed to be the longest pedestrian only shopping street in Europe. We enjoyed strolling the street but unfortunately most of the shops were closed on Sunday so we got out of Bordeaux with a little money left in our pockets. We couldn’t even buy any wine!!

Like the other towns in the area, Bordeaux has a market and lucky for us the big market was only open on Sundays. We took the tram up to the market which was located just north of Bordeaux city and right next to La Garonne which is one of the 5 main rivers of France along with the Rhone, Seine, Dordogne and Loire. By the time our trip is over we will have had an opportunity to see all but the Rhone; next time for that one. Back to the market. This was a much bigger market and was more geared to a Sunday afternoon feast. Many people came to the market to not only buy some of the products for sale but also to enjoy a meal on the boardwalk next to the river. We bought some bread and cheese, sampled some very tasty grape juice, ate some foie gras and enjoyed just walking around looking at what was being sold.

Once we were done with the market we decided to walk back along the boardwalk towards Bordeaux city to explore more of the city. We stopped and had a glass of wine at an outside cafe and then went to visit St. Andre Cathedral which dates back to the 5th & 6th century. The church was increased in size during the 11th century and again in the 18th century so it is very interesting to see the different time periods within the same structure. This cathedral also has tower to climb so we thought what the heck let’s make the climb. I didn’t realize how narrow the staircase was and my claustrophobia started to really kick in. Fortunately it was not too crowded but whenever someone was coming down as we were going up we had to shift to one side of the staircase and do the shimmy to get by. Remember these are very steep limestone stairs with no handrails. Needless to say I was glad when we got to the top and the first thing I did was try to find another way down. I would have gladly taken a zip line!

After the cathedral visit we stopped again at a cafe in town to have some coffee and tea. These little cafés are located like we would see Starbucks; on almost every corner and they serve the best coffee. The prices might be a bit more than what we would pay in the US but usually a cup of coffee and a cup of tea would be around 7 euros with waiter service. We continued our walk about and couldn’t resist stopping for more canelles, the dessert that apparently originated from this area. Dang these things are absolutely addicting.

We then continued our exploring until our legs were getting tired and needed a break. We ducked into a restaurant called Cafe des Arts which was a typical French bistro and was not rate highly on Trip Advisor but we decided to give it a try. Most restaurants do not seat customers until at least 7:30pm but normally cafés will seat anytime so eating at 6:30pm was the earliest we had eaten since we arrived in France. We had sea bass and baked cama which was actually quite tasty and the service was the best we had so far. He suggested a Bordeaux blend from the Graves region which was a great selection. One other point to make is that the French do not hurry through a meal…ever. We had no reason to be in a hurry but at the same time we wanted to get back so that we could get ready to leave in the morning for our train to Paris. The dinner lasted a little over 2 hours which was a record for us. Most dinners so far have lasted around 2 1/2 hours and are supposed to be relaxing social events.

We walked back to the B&B to burn some calories and talked with our hosts for a bit. They are transplants from Paris and they were tired of the fast paced high stress life style so they moved to Bordeaux to slow down. It definitely has a very relaxed feeling as did Tours and St. Emilion. My guess is the entire region is this same way. Lots of very mellow, wine drinking, food loving people. We’ll include our new address in our next blog!! 🙂

St. Emilion

Yesterday we spent the entire day in St. Emilion until our train ride into Bordeaux city In the late afternoon.  Wow, what a day.  The day started with Caro making us breakfast and we enjoyed the last morning watching the first light through the rain.  Right after breakfast we left for St. Emilion which was about a 45 minute drive right through the heart of the wine country.  I have to bore you again with some details but it might help understand some of my comments.  There are several regional appellations within the Bordeaux area.  Each appellation has a certain set of rules that apply specifically to the area including the type of grapes that be grown and bottled to sell as that specific appellation.  For example in order to bottle and sell wine under the St. Emilion AOC which is the appellation d’origine contrôlée and translates as controlled designation of origin, the wines must be from Cabernet Savignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.  Anything else produced within the St. Emilion must be sold as a Bordeaux table wine.  The rules are all set by a board of wine experts based upon the soil type, weather, location, etc.  OK, enough of that.  How about some history?  🙂

St. Emilion’s first residents were somewhere around 500 BC and evidence of each time period including the Nordics, Gallo Roman, the dark ages, the English rule during the medieval years and the French rule during the renaissance exists today.  We’ve almost become jaded to the point where we’re disappointed if we’re looking at something newer than the 18th century.  The city has some of the original walls from the 10th century that are still in pretty good shape along with St. Emilion Cathedral which has parts of it from the 6th century.  Needless to say we were in history heaven in this town.

After we arrived in town we were joined by another couple from LA who were on their honeymoon.  Caro, our tour guide, took us through the market area which was very nice but not quite as big as Loches.  We’ve learned that farmer’s markets are a way of life and is the main source of the residents buying most of their food products.  Other stores are used for buying non-food type products.  The food is all very fresh and everyone seems to know everyone else.  If in doubt, we learned that you pick the longest line which means it is the best.  After the market we climbed the 230 steps to the top of the St. Emilion Cathedral.  It was quite a hike up a very narrow (the claustrophobia was really kicking in) medieval era staircase but we made it and the sites were spectacular.  We had a 360 degree view of St. Emilion including all of the vineyards in the area.  After the climb we stopped for lunch and a glass of wine getting ready for an afternoon of wine tasting.

Our first winery was Chateau Gaudet which produced a really good Bordeaux blend.  We were able to meet with the wine maker Vincent Lignac, whose family has owned the winery for 6 generations.  Vincent gave us a fantastic tour of his winery including the underground caves that are used for storing wine.  These caves date back to the 10th century and have been used for a number of purposes over the years including escape routes during sieges as well as hiding people that had been condemned for the guillotine.  Nice thought huh?  There are over 20 kilometers of caves under the city of St. Emilion that have been mapped.  So we kind of made a promise to each other that we wouldn’t buy any wine over here to bring home nor would we join any wine clubs.  Well we broke the first promise by purchasing a case of a 2001 Bordeaux blend from Vincent that was too good to leave in France and we didn’t think we could drink it in the next week.  We’re looking forward to sharing some of that wine with our Bordeaux blend friends and you know who you are.

Our next stop was Chateau Fonplegade.  Again another outstanding winery.  This winery also gave an exceptional tour and was a bit more modern than Chateau Gaudet.  The wines were again fantastic and the strangest thing is that they are the only winery in the St. Emilion appellation that has a what?  You guessed it, a wine club.  And as a result promise number two was broken because why would I not join a wine club in St. Emilion??  :).

We then stopped by a wine shop in the town of St. Emilion so our friends from LA, Wes and Annie could buy a few bottles of wine.  We’ll by now I figured since we had already broken both promises let’s open the flood gates.  Yep, another case of assorted Bordeaux’s are now on their way to Bonney Lake.

At this point I was hoping we were done wine shopping and we were but we had to stop for some canneles which are a little cake about the size of a small cupcake with custard on the inside.  Whoa we’re they good.  We figured they had about 5000 calories each but were well worth it!  It was then on to the train station where we joined our friends on the train to Bordeaux.  They were catching the TGV to Paris where they were staying for another week.

We arrived at our B&B, Villa St. Genes and we’re welcomed by the owners and their dog Orion.  They helped us to our room, gave us a tour of the house, provided us with maps and even made dinner reservations for us.  That sure is nice after a long day.  We have sure been impressed how friendly the people are in western France.  We had dinner at Gabriels which was a French bistro and I had foie gras and veal kidney and Susie had a cod seared in olive oil.  I know veal kidney sounds kind of strange but it was really good.  I have to try one really strange thing each time we travel…I think that qualifies.  Bordeaux looks like a great town to explore so we’re looking forward to getting out and seeing the sites.

Au revoir!!

Pics of the Vineyards at Chateau Haut Garrigue

Lunch during the wine tasting at the Feely Vineyards.

Lunch during the wine tasting at the Feely Vineyards.

Church in Saussignac

Church in Saussignac

Freely Vineyards wine tastingFreely Vineyards wine tasting

Cabernet Savignon grapes

Cabernet Savignon grapes

Dora the Feely family dog and protector of the vineyard.  She would always be there as our escort wherever we went.

Dora the Feely family dog and protector of the vineyard. She would always be there as our escort wherever we went.

Part of the Feely vineyard and surrounding area.  Absolutely beautiful.

Part of the Feely vineyard and surrounding area. Absolutely beautiful.

Some Sauvignon Blanc grapes.  Most of the harvest was done but some grapes remained for the late harvest dessert wines.

Some Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Most of the harvest was done but some grapes remained for the late harvest dessert wines.

Chateau in Saussignac

Chateau in Saussignac

This section of the Feely house is from the 12th century.  Most of it is built from limestone.

This section of the Feely house is from the 12th century. Most of it is built from limestone.

Another chateau down the road from the Feely's.

Another chateau down the road from the Feely’s.

View of the Feely vineyard and surrounding area.

View of the Feely vineyard and surrounding area.

Old wine barrels on the Feely property.

Old wine barrels on the Feely property.

Chateau Haut Garrigue, Saussignac

Today we spent the entire day with Caro Feely, the owner of Feely Winery and Chateau Haut Garrigue.  Caro and her husband Sean have been operating the winery for 8 years and have really built a nice business.  Along with producing some really good wines they also operate a B&B at the winery and Caro has received a wine education certificate and teaches “all about” wines in the area.  In addition to their business they have 2 young girls, Sophia, 10 and Ellie 8 and the family dog, Dora.  They are a very typical farming family and it has been a real treat hanging with them today.

We started out the day with a walk through the vineyard learning about the art of organic and bio-dynamic farming.  Some of you have heard us talk about this process but for those of you not aware, it is the art of farming without the use of any chemicals and very little or no irrigation. The resulting crop is much better for you and tends to be a higher quality fruit.  The down side is that it is much more labor intensive and subject to some of nature’s curve balls such as disease.  The key to successful biodiversity is a symbiotic relationship with all things on the farm.  What that really means is that by having the right flowers and trees for example will attract the right birds and bugs to keep the bad bugs and things that harm the vines out of the vineyard.  OK, this is starting to sound like a science lesson and I’ve probably already lost everyone!!  Sorry.  :).  Really it’s very interesting and the same kind of farming used at the farm we visited in Costa Rica as well as a couple of wineries in California.

After our walk about, we got to taste the wines and wow were they good.  They are part of the Bergerac appellation which allows them to produce a Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, a Merlot blend and a Cab blend.  I’m not much of a white wine drinker but the Sauvignon Blanc is really good!  During the tasting Caro brought out lunch of cheeses, smoked duck, salad from her garden, fresh bread and grape jam.  We got to enjoy the lunch while sitting in the tasting room looking out over the vineyard.  What a treat that was.

Once done with lunch we learned more about how the grapes are processed and the actual fermentation and bottling process.  This included a tour of the fermentation tanks and aging areas.  They just finished the harvest this past week so the vats were full of the good stuff.  Caro and Sean produce about 1,000 cases per year which puts them at the smaller end of the wineries but they are really after the quality and I would say they are succeeding.  It was really interesting talking to them about the business end and the peaks and valleys they have been through.  They also shared how difficult financially it is to survive in the business considering the tax rates.  French companies are required to pay a “social tax” of 48% before any income taxes are paid.  They said they will pay around 73% in taxes this year.  And we think we have it bad!

At the end of the day we joined Caro and Sean with some folks from England for some more tasting (I may have to join AA when I get back).  After that we walked about a kilometer up an old country road to the little village do Saussignac for dinner.  We really felt we were in the Twilight Zone.  We were the only people in the restaurant and the chef spoke no English.  Fortunately, now we’re experts.  :).  We know how to order water, wine, fish and duck.  But it turned out great.  He mention champignons and I remembered those were mushrooms so I said “oui” and he brought out a big basket of chanterelles and we figured out he was going to sauté them which is all we needed to hear..we knew we came to the right place.  A couple of minutes later the chef’s wife came in and said in very clear English “do you need any help with the menu”?  Us? How could you possibly tell?  Was it our great command of the French language or the fact that we had blank stares?  In any event we had an outstanding meal of fish and lamb with the chanterelle starter.  Oh yeah, of course the wine.  We had a 2001 Cab blend from Bordeaux that was suggested and it was spot on.

The day is over and tomorrow we’re headed to St. Emilion with Caro to visit two wineries and to learn some about the area wines.  After that we’ll be taking the train to Bordeaux for a couple of days before leaving for Paris.

Bonne journee!! (have a good day)

Tours to Gardonne

We woke up today to a beautiful fall, crisp and clear.  We met some new arrivals from Hungary and we were glad we were now not the only non-French speaking people in the house.  Everyone in the house has spoken English but also French.  Our Australian friends were off to Orleans for a few days and the off to Paris and back to Sydney.  Our Swiss friends were starting their drive back to Zurich (it’s only a 7 hour drive according to them).  Alex has been a very good host and we managed to find a nice bottle of Vouvray for her.  We spent the morning walking through Tours (pronounced Toor).  They have quite an artisan area and market that are somewhat similar to Pike’s Place except that each artisan only sells one specific type of product.  A baker for instance doesn’t sell bread along with sandwiches or cookies and chocolates.  We had, yes had, to have some macaroons and we had to find the artisan who specialized in cookies to find them.  No worries…we found them.  In fact we found several.  :). We also bought a couple of apricot baguettes for the train ride to Gardonne.  Ok we ate some more stuff too like Croquet Monsieur which is the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich.  

After walking through the market area we walked through the St. Gatien’s Cathedral which was started in the 12th century and completed 400 years later.  The original ground was occupied as early as 570 as a gathering site for religious activities but the building was destroyed prior to the construction of St. Gatien’s.  The church was huge and as is typical of churches of this era spared no expense with the construction including at least 100 stained glass windows along with incredibly ornate wood carvings.  It was a real treat.

The train today was a bit more challenging because we had three changes to get to Gardonne.  The first was from Tours to St. Pierre de Corps and then to Libourne and then to Gardonne.  Unfortunately the TGV train to Libourne was delayed by 1 hour ( we heard it was a typical train strike which is somewhat common in France) and as a result we missed our connection to Gardonne.  The good news was there was a second train leaving one hour later so we managed to make that train.  Our host in Gardonne, Caro Feely, knew we would be late and miss our dinner reservations so she and her husband had fresh pumpkin soup, bread , cheese and wine waiting for us when we arrived.   If anyone ever tells you the French are rude and arrogant tell them to go pound sand!  Caro and Sean are originally from South Africa via Dublin, Ireland and we’re really looking forward to hanging with them the next two days.

Following are some food pics from Wednesday night.ImageImage

The first two are our desserts which were an apple tart and a fresh strawberry crumble with a strawberry sorbet.  The last pic is scallops over a bed of fresh mushrooms.



Loches and Chenonceau

Today we visited the villages of Loches and Chenonceau.  Each village has a castle both constructed in different periods.  Chateau de Loches was built in the 10th century and is one of the oldest “non-Roman” stone castles in France.  Chateau de Chenonceau was originally built in the 11th century but as mostly burned dome during one of the “typical” sieges that took place.  The chateau was rebuilt as the medieval period was coming to an end and actually has more of the renaissance type architecture that starts showing up in the 16th century.  The medieval architecture included narrow steep spiral staircases where the renaissance architecture used more of the straight type staircases that we see today.  Looking at the outsides of the castles only makes it difficult to determine whether it is late medieval or early renaissance since during that time most castles were built as defensive structures.  Attached are pictures of both Loches and Chenonceau.  Chenonceau is the most visited chateau in the Loire Valley and is really worth a visit but we enjoyed Loches equally as much.

Tonight we broke our rule and went back to Le Saint Honores For dinner. We talked the other guests in the B&B to eat there as well so we kind of took over the restaurant.  The food was outstanding  again.  I know it sounds redundant but damn, it was really good.  We met some people from Australia and Switzerland today and lucky for us a couple of them spoke French.  Our tour guides also spoke French which made it nice because in Loches which is not served by train English is not spoken at all.  Fortunately we’ve picked up a little and I do mean a little French so could at least buy some water most of the time we had absolutely no idea what they were talking about.

We’re off to Saint Emilion tomorrow and we’ll try to get some more pics posted.

The first two pics are of Chateau de  Chenonceau.  The last pic is the car we road in for our tour today.




We’ve added some photos of the Chateau de Longeais.  It was originally built in the 10th century and mostly destroyed during the hundred years war.  It was rebuilt in the 15th century towards the end of the medieval period.  Part of the original keep from the 10th century is still on the grounds and stairs take you to the top.