Chateaux of the Loire – Day Five: Chateau de la La Ferté Saint Aubin

aerial-viewThe history of Chateau de la Ferté Saint Aubin goes back to the 17th century. We found it a delightful place to visit not only because of the gorgeous restoration but because of all the marvelous things to see and do. My favorite was the exquisite doll museum with dioramas of antique dolls and children’s toys. img_2351 img_2350 img_2349 img_2348 img_2354 img_2353 img_2352

My daughter enjoyed the goats and chickens in the farm. img_2370

And we both loved the cooking demonstration of madeleines in the chateau kitchen using techniques of past centuries.  

On the way back to our car we discovered how they trim those enormous hedges that surround many of the entrances to the chateaux.

A delightful place to bring children–although my granddaughters were at their Centre Loisir that day.

Chateaux of the Loire – Day Four: Chenonceau

Of all the beautiful chateaux along the Loire, Chenonceau, built in 1513, is the one I have visited and loved the most. Which is why I can always go back again to walk that grand gallery over the Cher river, delight in the exquisite floral arrangements in each room, and read about the rivalry of Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers and visit their competing gardens.Their iron, but very feminine, fists in their velvet gloves always preserved Chenonceau in times of conflict and war.

This year with my six-year-old granddaughter as my tour guide, I visited places in the 70 hectares that I had never seen before–the Maze, the extensive greenhouses and gardens where the flowers for those beautiful displays are grown and arranged (did I think they call 1-800-FLOWERS ??), the stables, the XVI century farm, and the historic display of the chateau’s use as a military hospital during World War I.

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The castle chef's at work

The castle chef’s at work

One of the many beautiful bouquets designed for each room

One of the many beautiful bouquets designed for each room

This lily pad display even mimicking the pond scum

This lily pad display even mimicking the pond scum

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The photo display of WWI as a military hospital

The photo display of WWI as a military hospital

One of many garden areas

One of many garden areas

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Enjoying the tour

Chateaux of the Loire – Day Three: Chateau Chaumont-sur-Loire

This is the third of nine posts about our visits to Loire chateaux this summer. Chaumont was distinctive for its annual International Garden Festival and a lovely lunch at Le Grand Velum which features spices, vegetable species, rare and relevant plants  from eco-agriculture.

Less than 200 km south of Paris, nestling between the cities of Tours and Blois, is a haven of poetry stretching out 40 meters above the wild Loire,  Whatever the season, Chaumont-sur-Loire, once the home of Catherine de Medici, Diane de Poitiers and Princess de Broglie, beckons visitors indoors to admire its cozy and lavishly furnished interior. Installations by an array of contemporary artists in the château and along the footpaths of the park catch you by surprise. Every year, more than 400,000 visitors flock to its International Garden Festival, held since 1992.

Our photos include the chateau itself with all its elegance and grandeur on the banks of the Loire, its fabled stables, its unusual eco-friendly restaurant, and, of course, the Garden Festivalimg_2321

Catherine de Medici's bedroom in her usual somber hues

Catherine de Medici’s bedroom in her usual somber hues

Modern stained glass art installation in attic niches filled with restoration materials

Modern stained glass art installation in attic niches filled with restoration materials

Grand dining room

Grand dining room

Huge stables filled with carriages and harnesses

Huge stables filled with carriages and harnesses

The chateau's floral borders

The chateau’s floral borders

Garden Festival entry portraying top of home sunken by nature's forces in this future themed competeition

Garden Festival entry portraying top of home sunken by nature’s forces in this future themed competeition

All that is left is the attic with the survivor's few precious belongings

All that is left is the attic with the survivor’s few precious belongings

Parfumery entry.

Parfumery entry.

Another unusual entry

Another unusual entry

Look closely for Maggie popping up in this one

Look closely for Maggie popping up in this one

And on to lunch at Le Grand Velum

And on to lunch at Le Grand Velum

Cushion of veal cooked like a boiled ham, with grilled bacon from  the  same  meat,  seasoned  with  lovage.  Heads  of  broccoli  and  duxelles of finely sliced chard served on home-made wholegrain  bread roll

Cushion of veal cooked like a boiled ham, with grilled bacon from the same meat, seasoned with lovage. Heads of broccoli and duxelles of finely sliced chard served on home-made wholegrain bread roll

Beef eye-of-round and Carrots cooked in mild  " ices (Voatsiperifery  pepper, paprika and turmeric), cumin potato bubbles and sa % ron  yellow zucchini, beef gravy and cress shoots to

Beef eye-of-round and Carrots cooked in mild
“ices (Voatsiperifery pepper, paprika and turmeric), cumin potato bubbles and saffron
yellow zucchini, beef gravy and cress shoots

Milk  chocolate  and  pollen  flavoured   # reusel  biscuit,  organic  honey parfait, served with a smooth peach-apricot cream. Sorbet  comprising the

Milk chocolate and pollen flavoured
streusel biscuit, organic honey parfait, served with a smooth peach-apricot cream.

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Chateaux of the Loire – Day Two: Chateau Sully-sur-Loire

Gallery

This gallery contains 17 photos.

Now THIS is what a castle is supposed to be! Visit the Chateau’s website and be sure to play the Presentation Clip and you too can experience what we did, traipsing up and down endless spiral stone staircases (hanging on … Continue reading

Chateaux of the Loire – Day One: Chateau Villesavin

Gallery

This gallery contains 18 photos.

This summer I spent three lovely weeks in Orléans with my daughter and granddaughters, ages four and six. During the week, the little girls, who are bilingual in French, attended a Centre Loisirs pour les enfants (see news photos here) … Continue reading

Memories of France 2009

Gallery

This gallery contains 17 photos.

Getting in the mood–as if one had to work at getting excited to visit France! As I prepare for my lucky 13th trip to France this summer and a 3 week stay in Orleans with my daughter and granddaughters, I’ve … Continue reading

How not to think about packing…

Where’s Scotty when I need him? As the days count down and I’m surrounded by packing boxes, I desperately want to be beamed up to my new home. The best way to distract myself while I’m resting on the couch with various sore muscles being chilled under ice packs is to think back to some of my lovely trips to France. And look forward to another journey to my favorite French destinations next summer.

And, you MUST scroll to the bottom of the photos to see my the abode which I will share with my daughter and her husband and my two delightful granddaughters, ages 3 and 5. I know I’ll enjoy the fabulous view of the entire San Francisco bay from my little private patio. And what better than having two little people prying your eyelids open in the morning, whispering, “Are you awake, Mimi?”

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Paris in winter

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Eze during the Christmas holiday

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Spectacular Bonifacio where my love of Corsica and my novel MOTHER TONGUE began

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The gargoyles of Notre Dame in sight of our apartment a block away

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Honfleur–the harbor master’s where my great-grandfather did business on his clipper ship the Llewellyn J Morse

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The cottage at Chenonceau at the height of the wisteria season

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The harbor at Cassis–gateway to the Calanques

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Opera Garnier for the ballet–red velvet heaven

Dinner on the beach

Dinner on the beach at L’Ile Rousse in Corsica

Chagall museum Nice

The fabulous Chagall museum

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Visiting 113 rooms at Chambord

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The Paris Opera costume exhibit at Chambord

Serenity Bonifacio

Serenity…the harbor at Bonifacio

Hameau Stair House Oil

The Petite Hameau of Marie Antoinette at Verseilles

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A stunning view of Mont Saint Michel

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A cozy view of my new home at night. That’s my special space on the bottom right behind the wrought iron fencing.

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The back patios.

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The double terraced yard.

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My little private patio with views of San Francisco bay

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A view of San Francisco bay from the main level

Beautiful bits of flotsam and jetsam

 

Very often it’s not the grand vistas but the intricate details that are most remembered from our travels. Enjoy this array of exquisite bits of flotsam and jetsam from my travels in England and France.

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A swan at Versailles

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The “Thinker” gargoyle at Notre Dame

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Two gargoyles’ view of Paris

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Chenonceau through a window

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The kitchen at Chenonceau

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Drain pipe at Chambord

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Opera costumes at Chambord

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Egyptian cats at the Louvre

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MIniatures of Paris in shop on Ile St. Louis

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Pont D’Alexandre Paris

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Buckingham Palace

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Near Buckingham Palace

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And ending on a yummy note…the Albert Pub in London. See you there!

A Rainbow of Color ~ Spring in France

From the flower market on Île de la Cité to Le Tour Eiffel peaking through the trees to the irises at a bed and breakfast in Amboise to pink tulips in the garden at Chenonceau and its wisteria covered cottage to a colorful array of tulips behind Notre Dame to touches of color at Villandry to the spring green of the cloisters at Mont Saint-Michel and, finally, to the sacred grounds of Normandy.

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Chenonceau ~ The Chateau of the Dueling Gardens

P1000623I have visited Chenonceau three times. The first time with my daughter in the dead of winter. I was doing my motherly “duty” and visiting her during her first year of living abroad in France. The program that was to help her find a job didn’t work out and she was on her own, finding both friends and employment. We spent over a week staying in three different chateaux and visiting many of the rest.

DSC02039But Chenonceau always stuck in my mind with its graceful arched bridge spanning the River Cher. It was commissioned by Diane de Poitiers, the mistress of Henry II in 1555 who also oversaw the planting of extensive flower and vegetable gardens. Set along the banks of the river, but buttressed from flooding by stone terraces, the exquisite gardens were laid out in four triangles.

DSC02027After King Henry II died in 1559, his strong-willed widow Catherine de’Medici and forced Diane to exchange it for the Château Chaumont and made Chenonceau her own favorite residence, adding a new series of gardens. Only is France will women complete over the same man with dueling gardens!