On Wednesday Zak rented a car and we drove to the Loire Valley to tour some palaces. We spent the night in Amboise after seeing the chateau there, as well as Leonardo da Vinci's home and tomb. The next day we saw Chenonceau, which was my favorite palace to tour the inside of (even more so than Versailles) because you get to see the kitchens! It made me miss cooking and baking with Heidi. I miss that girl SO much! After Chenonceau we went to some place I can't remember the name of... we saw the outside of the chateau and had a picnic there, which was so pleasant and CHEAP. The last chateau was Villandry. We didn't go inside, but just explored the expansive gardens. Oh, they were so beautiful. They'll be even more beautiful in April when the flowers are in bloom, but then there will be tons of tourists, so I'd say we came at a good time! Another advantage of seeing the Loire in a relatively off-season time is that they keep some of the fires lit in the gigantic fireplaces. I could have read in front of them all day had time permitted!
Also, as a side note on pretty much all of the historic sites I've been to... it's disappointing to know how much has disintegrated over the years, and how things have been modernized for either practical or commercial purposes, but considering how old these castles and chateaus are, it's amazing that anything survives at all. Despite their gift shops the French are usually very good at maintaining the historic integrity of each castle, palace, or what have you. It's just so amazing to promenade around the same hallways that Leonardo da Vinci would have walked around or to think of the hands that built a cathedral. Some of the many reasons I love traveling and living in France!
We finished off our time together with a scrumptious French dinner at Carambole, my favorite creperie/galleterie/tea room in Caen. As predicted, Heidi and Zak fell in love with the kir normand, galettes, and dessert crepes! How could you not? Heidi and I will work hard this summer at recreating all of my favorite French foods.