Loire Valley, France
06.14.2014 - 07.17.2014 65 °F
From Barcelona the plan was to take a train to meet my friend from Georgia Tech in Toulouse, France. We planned this part together because being both aerospace engineers we were going to go see the Airbus plant (Airbus is the competitor of Boeing - the company I start working for in August) and to [space park name], which is a space amusement park. Talk about a city made just for us to visit! Unfortunately, the SCNF (French trains) were on strike. All of my trains in France were cancelled for the entire week.
I finally got to Toulouse by a 7 hour bus and met up with Justin Alex. Until March, this part of the trip was supposed to be on my own, but after some nudging by myself and my roommate Nathalie, we convinced Justin Alex he needed to go on a trip too! He started off with a trip to Scotland (which he highly recommends so put that on your travel lists!), Ireland, Italy and then met me in France
We lost our days in Toulouse due to the train strikes…I guess it just means I'll have to come to come back!
We did have an amazing crepe dinner the night I arrived in Toulouse. Mine had beef, ham, cheese, mushrooms, tomato sauce and an egg…Woah!
Our next town was Tours, France...a small town in the Loire Valley of France. Our two classmates from Georgia Tech who are from France were supposed to meet us. Unfortunately, also due to the strikes they were never able to make it Justin Alex and I had to carry on without them, but don't worry Emmanuel and Clelia, we thought of you the whole time
Day 1: Chateau de Chenonceau & Chateau de Amboise
The Chenonceau was my favorite chateau of the day. It's a chateau that was built and extended over the River Cher so it looks as if it was built on top of a bridge. It's called the Ladies' Chateau because of the royal women that lived there. Henry II gave Diane de Poitiers the chateau and then his widow, Catherine de Medici, moved in after he died (Medici - the ones that ruled Florence! - I'm a nerd so I get really excited when things tie back to what I learned in other cities haha). Justin Alex and I liked the gardens the best here. There is Diane de Poitier's garden with the climbing Iceberg roses on the terrace walls and then on the other side is Catherine De Medici's garden with rose and lavender bushes. It looks like they competed a lot…
Diane de Poiter's garden:
Catherine de Medici's garden:
Our next stop was Chateau de Amboise. During the Renaissance, the king made a palace out of this chateau (Justin Alex and I are still confused the difference between a chateau, castle, palace and fortress…). This was a "kindergarten" for French kings. The most interesting part here was that Leonardo Da Vinci is buried here. In 1516 Leonardo was named the "first painter, engineer and king's architect". He was already 64 then and died 3 years later.
We also stopped by Leonardo da Vinci's house near the chateau:
Day 2: Villandry gardens & Chateau Azay-le-Rideau
After doing research I told Justin Alex we HAD to go to Villandry. Built during the Renaissance, the real draw to come here is the gardens. In 1906 the gardens were restored back to how gardens were laid out in France during the Renaissance. It starts with a view of the Ornamental Garden.
The one with the 4 hearts is "Tender love" - hearts separated by small flames on their sides
The one that looks like clusters of 3 triangle type shapes is "Passionate love" - hearts broken up by passion laid out like they are dancing
There is "Flighty Love" with butterfly wings and "Tragic love" blades of daggers and swords used in duels.
…please let me know if you see any of that, because I couldn't really but it's printed in my guide so I'll believe it
The whole garden is really beautiful.
Our last chateau of the trip was Chateau de Azay le Rideau. This one is also Renaissance style and from one side looks like it is made on the island in the lake.
Visiting 4 chateaus does get a bit repetitive, but if you want to see how royalty lived I would definitely recommend visiting at least Chenonceau and Villandry. The land is really beautiful. Also, Tours is a really cute town and it was a nice change of pace from the busy cities we were at.