Monday morning, we hopped on the Eurostar* and, 2.5 hours later, arrived in Paris. PARIS! We spent one night there in a house boat (I know), but I will gloss over that for now and take you to our next destination, the Loire Valley.
I woke up with a horrible stomach ache that might have been hangover, sea sickness, mini flu or some mix of food poisoning? Whatever it was, I put on my big girl badass pants (see: humility) and drove our manual car out of Paris in morning rush hour.
A few weeks before we left, I had read this excellent book, which spent a good deal of time in the Loire. It was pretty insane to drive by the huge brown signs advertising each exit's chateau, having read all about some of their owners and history.
After a few hours of torrential rains and waves of feeling like shit, we got most of the way to Azay-le-Rideau before I realized I was not going to be able to wander around and admire anything. We decided to crash at the hotel instead. It appeared through the mist and the rain, angels singing: the Chateau du Portail.
Let me tell you. That place is not. Messing. Around.
Winter is coming.
Our palatial room paled in comparison to the generosity and kindness of our host, Claude Hubert. There were two doggies. There were sandwiches and tea. I had some lunch, took an enormous nap and a hot shower, and felt like a human being again.
That night, Claude made an incredible dinner that included white asparagus and chicken from the market, and served wine from nearby Chateau du Cheverny.
Cream of mushroom soup
White asparagus (from Mr. Marpault) in Roquefort sauce
Fontainebleu (fromage frais) with berries
The teeniest, tiniest little berries on our amazing fromage frais.
In the morning, we ate a delicious kingly breakfast.
Then, we made our way to Clos Lucé. It wasn't on the list, but Claude recommended we see Leonardo Da Vinci's home before moving on to Chenonceau and Chambord.
It was a great "starter chateau" since the building and grounds are small and they have somewhat interesting models of various Da Vinci inventions? I don't know, I am fascinated by actually really boring shit, so maybe the models were super fun for some people. We did see a small French child trying to stick his arm into a model tank that was shooting smoke.
Next, we motored over to Chenonceau. This was the big one, folks.
I had read allll about one of its famous inhabitants, Diane de Poitiers. She was the beautiful, much older mistress of Henry II (almost 20 years older, in fact). (And in the 16th century, most women didn't age super well.) She may or may not have also been his father's mistress, because that bitch ran shit. As you can imagine, I was excited to see her home, one of the most beautiful chateaux in existence.
H for Henry. He claimed the Cs were for his wife, Catherine de Medici, but they actually secretly spelled out a D for Diane. #historyslam
Humidity hair, love you.
And then we ran over to Chambord for five minutes before heading back to Paris. I had planned to make this a longer visit, but Claude assured us that it wasn't worth going inside. Apparently, the place is almost completely empty and the best views are from the grounds. It was also pouring rain again at this point, so we parked, toddled over and ran back to the car.
Back to stupid old Paris. Just kidding, Paris. Stay tuned.
*"hopped" being a hilarious euphemism for dragging our enormous yellow suitcase onto a crowded train and hefting it onto an overhead rack.