Chris spent a lot of his childhood holidays in France. He really wanted to show me this beautiful country, so we found the loveliest rural gite in the Loire Valley and booked a ticket on the Eurotunnel. This was my first time on the Eurotunnel! We made our way to Folkestone and drove straight onto the train (it was amazing), a quick train ride over to France and we were there, driving along the wide French roads with their incredible service stations (seriously!). We meandered to the Loire Valley and checked into our gite. The owner Danny poured us some wine, showed us around and shared info about the area - a great start! The gite was wonderful, we had a comfortable room and a little verandah that looked out onto their huge garden with their chickens and ducks. There was a kitchen that we could use to cook food we'd bought at the market, and one evening Danny's wife Patricia cooked us an incredible 4 course meal with wine and spirits. Everyone spoke French of which Chris understood bits, but it was fun and the food was amazing! Their house was quite rural but we mostly drove around anyway and they had bikes that we borrowed to cycle to the next village, Le Boulay, which had a really basic cafe where you could order a 4 course meal with wine for €13!!! You eat whatever they have made that day but we went 4 times that week and every single meal was brilliant and we came away feeling more than satisfied.
We spent the week exploring, driving around checking out all the hundreds of chateaux. It is such a stunning area. We visited all the local markets (and Chris got to practice his French), drank a lot of wine, spent a day cycling around on our borrowed bikes and explored nearby towns. The area is well known for its Chateaux and also for the troglodytes - numerous dwellings and caves dug into the slopes and rock faces of the area. They are used for storing wine, cheese and mushrooms amongst other things. Of all the chateaux we saw (and we saw a lot) I'd say my favourites were:
- Chambord - we didn't go in, but it is huge and very impressive from the outside
- Villandry - which has the most beautiful immaculate gardens
- Langeais - lovely medieval castle
- Cheverny - it is super popular, but we went specifically to see the feeding of the 120 hunting dogs which is impressive!
We stayed at: La Maréchalerie
We ate at: Chez Brigitte et Didier in Le Boulay