There is a grand chateau at Chenonceau in the Loire valley (actually it's built on the river Cher) and the wife has been itching to visit for ages. So this Sunday morning with nothing on the agenda and a sunny start to the day, we decided to go. This being a famous tourist attraction, you can find out most of what you want to know from their website. (Click here) So, some impressions just for you, my avid reader, and perhaps some pictures you won't find in the guide books.
I am always intrigued by the effects of time and wear in old buildings like these, so I was pleased to spot some floor tiles in unfrequented corners that showed their original patterns.
This gallery is the part of the chateau that spans the river - not nearly as broad as you might think but quite long. The black and white floor tiles are of different stone (slate and tuffeau respectively), and the white is less durable than the black. So the white ones are worn concave, and the black ones convex. Walking on them feels odd.
The chateau has an extensive and well-kept garden and plant nursery, and they use these to provide spectacular "daily" flower displays in the chateau rooms. Here are some.
And, well, you've just got to have some views of the gardens, haven't you?
Finally, this cheeky chappie was looking down on us in the gift shop. I thought it was a beaver but the label told me it is a ragondin, or coypu. Farmers where I live hate coypus because they are big (shaped like a rat, about 2ft long in the body and with a tail equally long) and they eat crops. I came across a cage on one of my walks by the river not so long ago, and as I was inspecting it, a guy appeared from in the bushes and told me it was a ragondin trap. Why the long chain I asked, attaching it to a metal spike driven into the ground? That's so that once you've caught the ragondin and drowned it, you can pull the trap back out of the river.