Rugged and striking Brittany might have dampened our quick stop in Tours, the staging area for the Loire Valley. This countryside valley was once the region where princes, dukes, and nobles erected chateau after chateau as their getaways, and as a result, there are now far too many chateaus to see within a single visit. Within the city of Tours, there appeared to be a strong white wine making industry, as seen by the number of signs for wine cellars and tastings along the roads. In fact, we even ended up spending a night for free on the property of a semi-retired winemaker outside of Tours en route to Amboise.
We parked beside another motorhome on his property.
Immediately upon parking, we greeted the French and English speaking winemaker who eagerly gave us a free tasting and tour of his cellar. Behind his home was a centuries old manmade cave used for making and aging wines.
There was no pressure to buy, but when he told us his most expensive bottle was €6, Chris happily took 4 bottles.
In a nutshell, it cost €24 for 4 bottles of wine, a place to park the RV for the night, and free water and electricity.
The next day we set out for my chateau of choice, which happened to be the most popular chateau in the area, Chateau de Chenonceau. From online photos, this 16th century chateau seemed too beautiful for words. Stretching over a glossy blue river, its gleaming white walls topped with turrets and towers came right out of a fairytale. However in reality, the river was a murky green, and the entire castle needed scrubbing. Up close, the chateau was rather drab, quite the opposite of what I had expected.
With the adult entry fee of €13, I was able to stroll through the perfectly manicured garden and roam freely through the rooms within the chateau. To my dismay, I discovered that crossing the river (for the best photo opportunity) was only available in July and August. Because I had the time and energy, I ended up crossing the river, walking over the bridge on Rue de la Gare, and strolling along the trail to the other side of the castle. Total time walking around to the other side plus hanging out—about an hour. And to my dismay again, the view on the other side wasn’t exceptionally better. It was just tourist-free.
Chateau de Chenonceau looked better from afar, especially when framed by its gardens.
I even enjoyed the small hedge maze.
Several photos from inside:
I know there were plenty of other chateaus in the area I could have seen. However, the costs to seeing more would have easily added up, and moreover, my disappointment upon visiting the popular Chateau de Chenonceau hindered my desire to see more. Well, at least we had the opportunity to spend the night at a winemaker’s cellar. That alone made our trip to Tours worth it!