Sunday, August 24, 2014


Yesterday I visited another gorgeous place pictured in almost all of my French textbooks, Le Chateau de Chenonceau.
To get there, I had a connecting train in Tours with some time to spare, so I wandered around and explored.
 The theatre
 A fountain from the United States of America dedicated to the achievements of the French army during WWI.

The cathedral in the town center. Every good French town must have a cathedral and a castle :)

 Tours castle

 The town hall building had elaborate, if slightly troubling decorations.

Then it was off to the tiny tiny tiny town of Chenonceau for the castle!
The women of the time actually had a huge impact on the history of the castle. In 1547 King Henri II donated the castle to his mistress Diane de Poitiers who built gardens and the famous arched bridge over the River Cher. Once Henri II died, his widow Catherine de' Medici kicked Diane out and made her own, more magnificent gardens. Louise of Lorraine, the wife of Henri III, was the last of the royal inhabitants at Chenonceau. It was later used as a salon for the elites during the 18th century Age of Enlightenment, and a hospital for wounded soldiers during WWI.

The chapel inside.

 Each bedroom has an elaborate fireplace.

 This hall was where the hospital was housed during WWI

Another fireplace

 The Marquis Tower

The hospital rooms, as they were used during WWI

Yes, even little boats along the river were included in this idyllic scenery.

Tree lined entrance to the castle.
 The castle grounds also includes a farm with donkeys and a flower garden, and an exhibition on cars and farming equipment throughout the centuries.

 And this shot, outside the grounds, reminded me that I was in the heart of the Loire Valley wine country. Just beautiful!
As my last adventure abroad this wraps up my posting. Tomorrow I travel by train back to London where I will stay in a hotel for one night before flying home on Tuesday.

What an experience these past few months have been! Once I have settled back in at home I will write a little wrap-up farewell of my adventures, but for now it's au revoir!

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Thursday I spent the morning sleeping in and recovering from my long day at Versailles, then ventured out to the park near where I am staying here in Angers. I am definitely starting to feel the fatigue of more than 2 months of travel, so it is nice to have some down time while I am in France.

The park was beautiful with winding trails and benches, playgrounds and even animals!
Then Friday I was off to Nantes. Nantes is the largest city in the North West region and the capital of the Pays de la Loire region.
I started at the Chateau de ducs de Bretagne which was built by Francis II, the last Duke of Brittany in the late 15th century. After the fortress and moat were built, the royal castle was built in the 16th century with additions in later years.

 Shops in the village center from the castle.

This was taken through a modern art sculpture/maze of woven branches on the grass by the moat.

Statue of Anne, Duchess of Brittany
 I have decided that every proper French town must have an impressive cathedral. Nantes' St. Paul and St. Pierre Cathedral was no exception. There has been a religious building on this site since the third century. (yes the 400s!!!) There is an exhibition in the roman era crypts that still exist under the floor of church. The current cathedral's construction began in 1434 with halted additions all the way through the 19th century followed by restoration from WWII bombings.

Beautiful stained glass in the Chapel of the Holy Virgin.

Tomb of Francois II, Duke of Brittany.

Found this lovely little lady napping in the sun outside the cathedral. <3

Part of the crypt underground. The organ started playing upstairs when I was in here alone...more than a little eerie!

 Cobblestone streets and little cafes--so French!
 To top off the day, I headed to the garden park, le Jardin des Plantes in the center of town. With flower beds, ponds, walking paths, animals, sculptures, modern art and a playground, this park was full of strollers enjoying the day.

One of the art installations was a succession of benches ranging in height from huge to this little guy! My water bottle is there for scale :)

The biggest bench!