Wednesday, July 19, 2006

France Noizay Day 11

I set the alarm for 7:30 a.m., but both Sharon and I were awake earlier. Sharon went out for a 20 minute run around the grounds of the chateau.

We had breakfast at the hotel. The rest of the rooms were filled with Americans who were on a multi-day horse ride across the Loire Valley. We did not see them the previous night, but they were all at breakfast.

We packed up, loaded the car and set the GPS for Chenonceau. When we were traveling across Florida in 2004, we used a book called a 1,000 places to see before you die. It recommended Chenonceau and Chambord as places to go in the Loire Valley. Chenonceau is the third most visited chateau in France (after Versailles and Fontainebleau). After a couple of days wandering the back roads, it was a little bit of shock to be back in the crowds.

The guidebook recommended getting the audio tour. We spent about an hour wandering through the chateau following the audio tour. All of us felt that it was time well spent and we felt like the audio tour added to the experience. Afterwards, we spent some time wandering the gardens (Jack loved the maze) and shopping in the gift shop.

We ended up getting lunch at the on-site sit down restaurant. This turned out to be one of the better meals that we had on the trip. Sharon spent some time dissecting one of the courses and making notes. She is starting to do some planning for a couple of fall dinner parties based on a french meal.

Back in the car, we set the GPS for Château de Noizay. Sharon and I were both a little dissappointed in this hotel. From the web site, we thought that it was going to be more like the accomodations in Reims. Unfortunately, it was a little below that level. You have to remember that these chateaus are 500 year old buildings. While there were some neat things about the place, the buildings definitely show their age. The grounds were also very dry and did not seem to very well kept up.

On a positive note, the place had a pool. With France in the middle of a heat wave, it felt great to take a dip in the pool after a long day.

We had driven through Ambroise on the way to the chateau and decided to go back there for dinner. We wandered through the town and found a great table on the sidewalk across from the ramparts of the castle. It was a great view. During dinner, it started to rain pretty hard. We were under the awning on the sidewalk and enjoyed our salads and the best pizza we had on the trip.

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