3: Beautiful Blossoms, Cute Doggies & Luscious Wine

The day started out a bit cooler—I could have worn my over-the-knee pants and a shirt with sleeves. Oh well, I survived, but was really thankful for my wind vest.

Rode across the river, out through the suburbs, over the hill and then through a long allee in the forest. I loved the fact that there were signs in the forest declaring it a “Zone de silence”, i.e. no motorized vehicles, radios, etc.

After the forest came the little town (really small village would be more like it) of Celettes, at the end of which one take a left turn onto the little country road leading to Chateau Beauregard. I had chosen to visit Beauregard because I had read about the gardens and wanted to pay them a visit. The Chateau itself is still family-owned and rather unassuming (as chateaus go…) and only a half-dozen rooms are open to the public.

Among these rooms was one of the most interesting rooms I’ve seen in any chateau or castle. It’s a great hall, encircled by a gallery of 327 portraits of famous European personages spanning the 14th to 17th centuries. I found the groupings to be so interesting—there would be a ruler, like a king, queen or pope and then a mistress/lover/wife and then an important ally or partner like a finance minister. A veritable European history of personalities.

After the visit to the house came the gardens. I had the luck of being completely alone and wandered through the 12 “greenery rooms”, each in a different color theme. Naturally, I took one or the other flower pictures…

It was getting towards midday and I was feeling a bit peckish, so I wrapped up my visit and rode back towards the village to check out the food possibilities. Well, the pickins were indeed slim (it was Monday and stuff was closed). There was a slimy looking bar or a Michelin-starred restaurant. The bar was definitely not appealing and I had no desire to go in a nice restaurant in my biking togs with helmet-hair. I rode further down the road and the only other place that was open was a press agent’s and the only remotely nourishing item he had was a Snickers bar. So I bought one and gobbled it down.

A few kilometers later I finally found a slightly larger village with a couple of restaurants and stopped at the first one. The pizza (!! pizza in France!!) was fairly mediocre but the company was charming. I sat at a table with a Frenchman and his teenage son, who were on a day-trip from Paris. We got to talking (he graciously kept his French simple enough for me to understand) and he was so admiring of the fact that I (a middle aged woman) was taking a bicycle trip on my own, he bought me a coffee. Very sweet of him.

On to Cheverny. The first thing that turned me off was waiting in a long line wending through the gift shop just to buy an admission ticket. I got my ticket and went into the chateau and held out for about three rooms and then left. First of all, the chateau was built in the early 17th century foofy-French style, which is not my personal favorite. Secondly, I was overrun with people (tourists, egads!) pushing and shoving their way through. I left the house after three rooms. Ugh.

I walked through the grounds a bit and was just about to leave when I heard dog sounds. Had to check that out and found my way to the hunting dog kennels. The chateau is known for its participation in the hunt and they have at least 70 hounds. As I was there, the dog handler was making his way through the dogs, checking ears and cooling them down with sprays of water. They were so sweet; one of them jumped up and licked my hands.

After my visit with the doggies I wandered around the corner and discovered the kitchen gardens. Lovely, a feast for the eyes and nose—I took a leisurely stroll through and naturally took a picture or two.

At about 4:00 I got back on the road and after about 7km the road took a turn and directly in front of me stood a winery. How could I resist? I tasted the whites and had a lovely chat with the winemaker who had spent 6 months of his training at a winery in California. And yes, I bought two bottles to take with me. Good thing I packed (somewhat) light!

By the time I got back on the road it was nearly 5:30 and it took me nearly 2 hours to get back to Blois. Photo stops, map stops, drink stops, rest stops… When I arrived I was absolutely famished and didn’t even go to the hotel and change—I plopped down at the first outdoor café I saw and devoured poulet-frites and sucked down two beers. Between bites I helped the family from New Zealand seated at the next table decipher the menu.

Day 3

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