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Weekend in the Loire Valley
What is nicer than eating a picnic supper in the springtime, sitting on a bench beside a stream, watching a horse munching on the grass in an adjacent field? The late afternoon sun was fast disappearing as we ate our ham sandwiches, washed down with a bottle of local wine. We were enjoying the last of an eventful day exploring Château Chenonceaux in the Loire Valley and the village of Chenonceaux.
Erica and our grandsons, Atticus and Roman, had driven from Paris Friday
evening, leaving Andrew at home recuperating from jetlag and a week of
OECD meetings in Botswana, Africa. The Hôtel La Roseraie had been
recommended by a member of the MOMS
group of English speaking ex-pats in Paris. It suited us very well. We
had a suite with two bedrooms and a living room, perfect for our family
We all enjoyed visiting the grounds
and the interior of the chateau. Erica and the boys had audio guides
which helped somewhat. There was so much to see. The Château sits on 70
hectares of farm and formal gardens. All the properties have been
lovingly restored, using historical plans and many of the original
furnishings. The boys tired of the interior before the adults did. Erica
took the boys out to run through the hedge maze before Ray and I
finished up our tour. The boys had a great time chasing each other
around the hedges. On our way back to town we stopped to visit four
donkeys in a field, part of the château farm property.
The regular guide was sick so the
substitute, a woman who works collecting the mushrooms, gave us a
combined tour of both the mushrooms and the promised underground
village. We all, including the boys, found it very interesting, although
Erica had to translate for Ray and I as the guide’s rapid French left me
behind. We saw button mushrooms, Paris browns, oyster and Pied blue
varieties growing. We got to taste some of the Paris brown mushrooms and
they definitely had a distinct nutty flavour. Erica bought a bag of the
Pied Blue, the most expensive, to bring back to Paris.
We had just enough time after the cave
visit to drive Mareuil-sur-Cher to La Lionniere. As well as being a
working farm raising goats, La Lionniere is one of a series of ferme
auberges in France that operate a bed and breakfast and a restaurant
where about 50% of the food served must be produced on the farm.
Reservations are required as the set meal is prepared just for the
number expected. When Erica called to reserve the woman didn’t sound
very receptive to two young children attending. However, there were
toys, paper and colours available to keep the boys amused while waiting
for our multi-course meal. The lunch was well attended, including a
large group with four young children celebrating a family event. The
meal, which included several goat cheeses, squab and curried goat, was
served in a glassed conservatory overlooking gardens in full spring
bloom. After dinner the boys went outside to see the farmyard and get
acquainted with the resident lab. Roman, who is very unsure of dogs, was
frightened by the friendly dog and came inside, but Atticus was charmed.
Atticus now wants a dog.
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