This past Saturday, Drew and I went to the Loire Valley to see some castles. You can't spend a large amount of time in France and not see castles! So we got up uber-early and caught a 7:50 train to Tours (where I studied abroad 3 summers ago) to do some excursions in the area. Our 9-12:30 tour took us to Villandry and Azay le Rideau.
Villandry was amazing!!! Built in 1536 by a minister of finance, it is 3 stories tall with a 4 story tower overlooking its amazing gardens. There is a water garden, a maze, flowers, and herbs.
Azay le Rideau was just as awesome. It has an open staircase in the front (making it too cold for me) and is about 3 stories also. It doesn't have cultivated gardens, just an nice wilderness to wander around on.
We were back in Tours for about an hour and I showed Drew the cathedral and we wandered some. Then we headed back to the tourist office for our 1:45 tour which took us to Chambord and Cheverny.
After driving over an hour, we pulled into the impressive drive leading to Chambord. This castle is HUGE-over 400 rooms, 20 something stairways, and 4 stories. The main stairway is a cool double helix Da Vinci-created thing. It's confusing but fun. The place is just massive and was only built as a hunting lodge!!!!!!!!!!!! Can someone say waste of materials!?!?
Cheverny was more of a large mansion than castle but still lovely. The family still lives in part of the house. I loved the furnishings. The grounds were nice; there was a small garden and just a large park to walk around in. This castle also had 120+ hounds to visit but signs asked us not to 'excite' them.
We got back to Tours 7ish and ate dinner and had a lovely dessert. I showed Drew where I took classes and the cool square where we hung out. It was an overall great day!