This is our first time in the Loire Valley - a very pretty part of the world indeed. We visited two Chateaux. Chenonceau is thought to be the best, and I can see why.
The grounds and buildings are immaculate. One of the most charming things about the chateau was the many beautiful flower arrangements throughout the castle. The arrangements are prepared each day by local women. The flowers are grown in the gardens within the grounds.
My favourite rooms within the chateau were those below stairs. This is the servants' dining room and meat kitchen.
And I'm sure the horses were very happy to be housed in these stables.
The vegetable garden was a delight to see.
I don't think there would be many herb gardens neater than this:
All in all it was simply breathtaking.
Equally interesting though, was the Chateau de Breze. It is still owned and lived in by descendents of the family who built it in the 11th century. It has a collection of underground tunnels dug out of the rock beneath it. It also has the deepest moat in Europe.
It's not until you visit a more humble chateau that it occurs to you the immense cost of maintaining such a building. This chateau was a little ragged, with archaic heating systems, daylight to be seen through the ceiling in certain unused rooms and dated wallpaper and decor. It had a very sombre atmosphere.
It was a complete contrast to Chenonceau.
The most interesting part of this chateau was the extensive wine cellar. Still used today for the Count's wine label, it is all underground and accessed from the moat.
This chateau is definitely worth a visit if you're in this part of the Loire. It is the more interesting because it is someone's home, and not a state owned and funded public building.