Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010. Chenonceau Chateau

Wednesday, April 28, 2010.(Sandra) Chenonceau Chateau. Here I sit on the level floor of our gite in Amboise, France. I see the beautiful soft lilac wisteria flowers cascading just outside the open patio doors in front of me. The sweet, pleasant smell is intoxicating as the evening coolness is enveloping me. Dieter has given me a sip of a poppy liqueur and this makes the setting perfect. However, the liqueur requires more attention than I am able to give. Therefore I'll join him in sipping more of the wonderful 'stuff' later this evening. This day was perfect from beginning to end. Let me begin: I began with a shower and this was followed with a delicious crepe breakfast, compliments of Dieter, complete with the honey/yogurt sauce. Alexander and Karannina had fun with the last crepe on Alexander's face. See video. Postcard work continued the day (this is a surprisingly time-consuming process for Karannina and Alexander since they have never done this before. They have only sent a few, since the cost of this kind of venture is high, financially as well as with time (this includes the time of finding mailing stamps)). Emails are more efficient in this day and age. I then made some contact with our hostess to get some computer copies in preparation for our montgolfiere adventure for tomorrow - my few French words and sign language help tremendously for communication. Yveline explained how her and her husband will be travelling tomorrow to Venice, Italy, and how excited they are. We as a family then traveled to the chateau of the day: Chateau de Chenonceau. This is the only chateau built across the river. The weather was perfectly comfortable - no bulky jackets. No line ups of people anywhere. An intriguing shrub labyrinth provided tremendous opportunities for playing tag and hide and seek. Next, two huge symmetrical gardens, originally planned by two consecutive leaders of the chateau, Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de' Medici, were placed on either side of the chateau entrance, complete with a centre pool or fountain of water. For me, the highlights of this chateau were the beautiful unique, fresh, fragrant baskets of flowers and foliage placed strategically in each large room. The informative booklet which came with the admission, was helpful for us to learn about the history of this unique river chateau. See the many photos - Dieter had fun with lines, light, colour, and reflections. I found it interesting that six different women have been the owners and leaders of this chateau since 1500. This chateau has been known as a ladies' chateau. There is a photo of myself in the green study room, where Catherine de' Medici governed France from this room. Numerous wall tapestries were common for every room and developed into a fun 'eye spy' game for us all, searching for an unique animal, bible story character, fruit, flower, etc. The kitchens provided a great opportunity to see the river through the windows. The chopping block which Karannina is studying revealed wear and tear. The chain and rope system of a rotisserie spit over the fireplace was interesting to see. Wild boar was a regular portion of their diet, as well as 'game' of pheasant, partridge and rabbit. Alexander found a carved wooden leg of a piece of renaissance furniture which was in need of some comic relief. Karannina kneeled in a pose, as Louise of Lorraine would have done after her husband King Henri III was killed. We then needed a change from all this history learning. We went outside and enjoyed the symmetrical flower gardens, the farm, the vegetable garden, and the labyrinth. Our rumbling stomachs guided us to our vehicle where we had a little picnic of food. Next to the parking lot we found a picnic table next to the chateau moat. We watched a group of mallard ducks demonstrating 'pecking order' behaviour. This was somewhat disturbing, since a few mallards were being bullied and treated harshly. After the brief picnic of baguette, avocado, tomato and apples, Dieter and Alexander returned to the labyrinth while Karannina and I looked in the boutique. The travel back to the gite included a stop at a grocery shop for basic foods such as milk (room temperature), yogurt, that hard-to-find peanut butter, and of course baguettes. Back at the gite, I cooked soup (using the roasted chicken from the market on Sunday) while Karannina and Alexander finish their postcards and continue to work on their homework summaries for school. By now the patio door is closed and I no longer can smell the sweet, pleasant wisteria.

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