Loire Valley

On Saturday we did a day trip to the Loire Valley. This is a region famous for its chateaus and wine.  Our tour guide, Simon, made it an exceptional experience. He was very informative, but also a lot of fun to spend the day with.

The other person on our tour, was an incredible Aussie lady, Lynette, who was doing a two month tour of Europe by herself. Oh and by the way, she’s 70. She said she hadn’t been to New Zealand yet because she was saving that trip for when she is “too old to manage the 24-hour flight to Europe.”  An inspiring lady…now we will tell ourselves to think of Lynette when getting frustrated with international travel.

Our first stop was Chateau de Chenonceau, which if you look at our pictures, you will see was incredibly grand. The king gave this chateau to his favorite mistress. When he came to visit, he enjoyed her company while the queen stayed in separate quarters at the chateau.  We found it interesting that the queen was a teenager, and the mistress was twenty years older than the king (go king!)

Our next stop was Les Caves Duhard Cellars, which is not a winery but a very small wine storage facility.  We were given a guided tour of the caves and had a beautiful picnic lunch overlooking the Loire River. Here we were surprised to learn that the red wines can only be stored for 40 years, but the whites forever. We always thought red wines lasted longer than whites, but apparently it depends on the type of grape. They had white wines dating back to 1874, and the one we tried wasn’t bad (just kidding we didn’t get to try that one, but we did get to try a 1975 red).

Another thing we found interesting was that in France they are not allowed to water their vineyards because this would be considered altering the terroir.  In other words, unlike the US, the outcome of the wine varies considerably year to year depending on rainfall.

Next we visited the charming little town of Amboise, the Amboise Chateau Royal, and Leonardo da Vinci’s house, Chateau du Clos Luce.  Supported by the king, Da Vinci spent the last three years of his life here dreaming up such concepts as the first automobile, the swing bridge, and the flying machine.

There are 300 chateaus in the Loire, so this is definitely a place you could come for an extended visit. We enjoyed getting a small taste of life in the Loire during our stay in Paris.

For more pictures, check out our Loire Valley photo album dated 16th April 2010