So many images come to mind, when I recall our visits to the astonishingly beautiful Château de Chenonceau. Sheep graze in a quiet field along the lengthy approach to the castle, a lane under a canopy of ancient trees. A tiny railroad depot delivers daily visitors, while nearby a crepe maker carefully spreads batter over his hot griddles. Finally we step into the open with the castle glistening in the sun beside the Cher River.
Exploring the popular castle itself can be a bit busy in the summer, but don’t hesitate. The treasures are many – the elegant private chapel, the ornate bedrooms of the royalty, the huge old copper collection in the vast kitchens, the impressive art and tapestry collections and then to spill out onto the broad black-and-white tiled gallery that spans the river. The gallery served as a hospital during the first Great War; during the Second, it literally was an escape path between the Nazi- occupied and Free Vichy zones.
Wherever you choose to pause a moment, either in the castle or in one of the sprawling gardens; beauty surrounds you. Even the kitchen absolutely glowed with the sheen of old copper.
We wandered through the pastoral gardens and along the river to the gazebo. We lunched on the patio by the orangerie, while barely absorbing the unimaginable centuries of history this masterpiece represents.
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