Our second day on the Loire Valley started with a great weather and that what just what we needed because our plans for the day included : Chateau Azay le Rideau, Chateau d’ Usse, Chateau de Villandry .The afternoon was reserved for a visit to the city Tours. The first thing on the list was Azay le Rideau a graceful castle built around the year 1515.
At 9.30 in the morning we were in front of the castle, impatient and ready to explore every little detail there.Because there were not many other visitors at that hour we took a relaxed walk through the gardens surrounding the castle. So far this was the first castle with a garden, so we were very impressed .
Romantic Chateaqu d’Azay le Rideau in the morning
Chateau Azay le Rideau
The beauty of this little green insula was enhanced by the presence of large, old cedar trees and by the water that created a mirror look of the castle.
The English garden from Azay Le Rideau castle
By the time we got to the entry a group of tourists was already there, so the walk through the castle wasn’t that quiet. The interior of the chateau was also very nice decorated, with many portraits and ornaments evoking the history of this place.
Chateu d’ Azay le Rideau-interior
View from the first floor of Azay le Rideau castle
As a general impression the visit was worth the money (Eur 8,50) .The castle and the gardens can be rented for events and given the beauty of the place, i guess the price can be pretty big. We left Azay le Rideau behind and headed to Chateau d’Usse
Chateau d’ Usse-said to be the inspiration for the story of “Sleeping Beauty” is as you can imagine a magnet for children.
Sleeping Beauty Castle
A part of the castle is decorated with dolls and toys, showing scenes from bed-time stories. For me looking through a window to see some dolls wasn’t that interesting, but for the children there it was incredible. For the grown-ups there are some rooms remembering the lords and ladies that inhabited the castle. An interesting fact is that the castle is built from tuffeau stone- a fragile rock formed over the time, composed from fossilized marine animals, plants and sand particles.
Balcony view from Chateau d’Usse
Except for a garden with flowers, a chapel and some sort of cellar for wine there are no other places to see outside the castle.
Chappel near Chateau d’Usse
Storage room for Chateau d’Usse
The gardens in front of Chateau d’Usse
I was very impressed the great number of children visiting this palace and also by the high price we paid for a visit here ( 14Eur). As we were preparing to leave,we saw some big dark clouds indicating a potential rain, so we hurried to get to the next castle on the list.
Parking in front of Chateau de Villandry looked impossible, as there was no parking place, just kilometers of cars parked beside the road. The search for a place took some time and energy and finally we found something at a walking distance from the castle. As this chateau was famous for its gardens, we decided to skip the visit of the interior and just see the gardens.
This huge, green park was divided into seven departments all very symmetrical and well taken care. We walked and walked through this labyrinth and at some point we saw a place on a higher level with a great panorama over the entire park. We climbed the stairs and we got to that place that also had a view over the castle….and here the fun began, as it started raining.
Chateau de Villandry
What to do?! There was no place to hide and our umbrella was in the car, so we started running. You can read more on the adventure on the article Spring weather in France. As our clothes were too wet to continue our journey, we headed back to the hotel for a break, some dry clothes and something to eat. The rain stopped before we reached our hotel and that gave us hope for a sunny afternoon in Tours.
Tours is an important crossing point for the Loire Valley area. Our main target in this city was its medieval part, called le Vieux Tours and of course the castle. We parked the car somewhere in the center of the city, because the traffic was horrible. We started to walk, hoping to find “le Vieux Tours”, without a map.
Gothic Cathedral Saint Gatien from Tours
One very tall building attracted our attention- it was the gothic Cathedral Saint Gatien . Near the cathedral we saw a garden belonging to the Museum of Beautiful Arts (Musee des Beaux-Arts) which hosted a giant cedar tree planted by Napoleon.
Napoleons giant cedar tree
After about a half an hour of walking, we managed to find the old part of the city Tours, which had many restaurants and pubs.
Medieval part of Tours
Houses from Tours
We admired some of the medieval houses there and pretty soon we found the Castle of Tours .
Chateau de Tours
Along the Loire
Since the chateau was closed at that time, we took a walk along the Loire River and decided to head home.Despite the weather, the city was very crowded and you could see tourists everywhere .On our way out from this city we found the biggest Carrefour Hypermarket I’ve ever seen. This place had all the food you could dream and wish, but most importantly it had fresh cooked food that you could take home, to your hotel room or on the road. Of course we made some provisions for the next day and we headed back to the hotel.
In the next article ”Road Trip to the Loire Valley-third part ”, i will speak about the most beautiful fragment of the Loire Valley .
Don’t forget to see also the first part of our visit to the Loire Valley.