Tag Archives: Chenonceau

Chenonceau Chateau History, Episode 171

Chenonceau Chateau History

Don’t let the title of this episode fool you: I cannot possibly tell you the whole story of the Chateau of Chenonceau in such a short format! This is a trip report to which I’ve added to with a French History Tidbit. I intend for it to give you a flavor or the Chenonceau so you can decide if you’d like to include it in your itinerary next time you visit France.

In this episode, Nancy Calkins tells us about her visit to the Chenonceau and Cheverny Chateaux in the Loire Valley. They are both spectacular, and Cheverny also offered stimulating activities for her teens, including the hunting dog pack and the tie-in to the Tintin stories. Nancy has some recommendations of where to stay in Montrichard which were quirky and fun.

Then, in the French History segment of the podcast, I share the parts of Chenonceau Chateau History that grabbed my attention. The story of the rivalry between Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Medici and how two French Kings died. I am editing this episode on Halloween, so that probably influenced that choice. Listen to how François I and Henry II, and you tell me: which one was worse?

Sign-Up for the Extra Content! This week it’s all about Chenonceau Shenanigans

I’ve started posting a photo of France each day on Instagram. Follow the Addicted to France account on Instagram to see them.

Recommended in this episode: Canoe sur le CherLa Chancellerie (hotel in Montrichard)

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

 

Chenonceau seen from the side; Chenonceau chateau history episode

Episode Highlights with Time Stamps

[03:25] Nancy Calkins Introduction

Visiting Chenonceau

[04:25] Picturesque countryside, meandering along the Cher and the Loire, it’s the world of Châteaux.

[04:55] It’s difficult to choose where to stay because everything is in close proximity to the Châteaux, but they decided to start in Montrichard because it is a little off the beaten path and you can take a canoe trip that starts there.

The tour takes you under the arches of the Chenonceau Château. Canoe sur le Cher is the name of the company. You can also bike and combine it with canoeing. Montrichard is not a touristy town at all, you’re mingling with locals.

Recommendations Near Cheverny

[07:55] They stayed at a place called La Chancellerie, it was quirky, but it’s a miniature château , you go up a circular staircase up to an apartment, there’s a pool in the basement, troglodyte pool and area. Pétanque playing area. Game-room in the attic of the chateau, rocking horse, pool table, roulette table.

It lacks some refinements but is full of charms. The caretaker is laid-back that looks like Aussie Osborne but skinny and healthy. Gave good recommendations.

[11:00] The town is also cute, there’s a restaurant called Les Tuffeaux. The gentleman who runs that place was conversational and charming and attentive. Amazing wine from Cheverny. There’s Montrichard castle that got turned into a museum, they explored at night and went up the hill to get a lovely view over the valley.

[12:00] Great for families with kids, not up-scale, not recommended as much for honeymooners, although if you want something low-key.

[13:20] L]There are lots of little châteaux everywhere that you see as you drive around to the big ones. Montrichard was a manageable spot as a central location. Everything is accessible from there. Not far from Tour.

, hound dogs at cheverny; chenonceau chateau history

Loire Valley for Kids

[14:00] Loire Valley for kids. They went to Chenonceau chateau first, it is spectacular. The story of the rivalry between Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitier is amazing.

Catherine wanted to have the last word, so she put her own portrait up in the mistress’ room, she built her garden to rival the other, building on her bridge. Floral arrangements at Chenonceau are also amazing.

[15:40] Cheverny. This is the Château that Captain Haddock’s Mansion is based on in Tintin. There is now a Tintin exhibit there too and the kids love it. The hunting dogs are also amazing. There are 200 of them, they lounge around and they look cool. Cheverny is a great kid’s oriented château.

[18:10] There is a little wine tasting place just outside of the Cheverny château, it’s a great place to taste and buy some wine.

[19:10] Other cool things to do in the Loire are biking, seeing the troglodytes, see more of the châteaux. The two major rivers are the Loire and the Cher rivers.

[20:24] Thank you for your support!

French History Segment of the Podcast

[26:00] The French History segment of the podcast: Today Chenonceau Chateau History.

[44:00] French Tip of the Week: Où se trouve la station service la plus proche, s’il vous plaît ?

Chaumont-sur-Loire Chateau; chenonceau chateau history episode

Conclusion

Learning about Chenonceau chateau history is definitely one of the reasons to go visit. Not just big historical events, but also all the small steamy stories too!

Cheverny is also gorgeous, and has the added interest of being the place that Tintin creator Hergé modeled Captain Haddock’s Castle on. So if your kids have any interest in Tintin, they will love it. The hound dogs there are amazing too, that alone makes it worth the visit!

Both places are gorgeous, remember to charge your camera, you will definitely make good use of it! Enjoy your visit to the Loire Valley!

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Brittany with Kids Trip Report, Episode 166

Brittany with Kids Trip Report


Matt and his daughters. Brittany with Kids Trip Report

“Big picture of why we like to tour France with our children is because I love the span of history in France. The history that you can get by traveling through France is tremendous: you can go back 20,000 years when you go see cave art paintings, then you’ve got the Romans, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, WWI, WWII, pretty much anything you want to see history-wise is in France.”

Recommended in this Episode: La Rocheline in La Chevalerie in La-Croix-en-Tourraine, Gîte in Dinan.

Places Mentioned in this Episode: TGV train station at CDG, Tours, Amboise, Chenonceau, Chambord, Mushroom Cave, Dinan, Monterfil, Mont Saint-Michel, Cancale, Fort la Latte, Saint-Malo, Sculpted Rocks in Saint-Malo, Gulf of Morbihan

Introduction

Brittany was always a place Matt wanted to visit, but Brittany with kids is even better. So Matt made sure to include it on his last visit to France in June/July 2017.  And since the Loire Valley is right between Paris and Brittany, they decided to make a stop in Tours and visit two Loire Valley Châteaux too. We also talk about dealing with a severe food allergy in France, driving in France, and how, if you do it right, a trip to France is like going into a time machine. This trip took Matt and his family to a lot of places that are lovely and completely off the beaten track for most visitors, some where they never heard a word of English. They planned to go both to both famous attractions and places that nobody ever goes to. I think they did made great choices, what do you think?

If you’re interested in this episode, you should also listen to: Driving in France and Gulf of Morbihan in Brittany

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

 Episode Highlights with Timestamps

The Itinerary for this Trip to France

[03:36] This was Matt’s 4th time in France, and his second big trip with the kids. This time they spent 2 days in the Loire, 6 days in Brittany, a week in the Dordogne, a week on the Mediterranean and Catalonia  part of France and one day passing through Paris.

Driving in France: Watch Out for Speeding Tickets!

[04:46] You drove all the way across France, north-west to south-west, from Brittany to Perpignan. Driving was great, safe, orderly, not that much traffic (Matt is used to Boston traffic) and Episode 16 on Driving in France was very helpful. They took the highways (we call them “autoroute” France and they are toll-roads). They went through Nantes and Bordeaux. When you drive in France, be mindful of your speed, because they will catch you and they will mail you the ticket all the way to your home in America or Canada or Australia because your car-rental company will forward your information to the authorities.

Visiting France Is Like Time Travel

[07:00] Why they like coming to France with their children and why they chose this route: 1. Matt gets by OK in French. 2. Every region of France is its own country. 3. The span of history you encounter on a trip like that in France is tremendous. 4. Matt’s daughter Nora is severely allergic to eggs and in France they can handle that without taking too much risk.

How to deal with a Food Allergy in France

[08:26] Dealing with a severe allergy in France: hand your waiter a printed card that says what you’re allergic to in French. Everyone was super accommodating.

The Kids Love the Beach and the Mediterranean!

[09:11] For this trip they wanted to keep what was successful about their previous trips and build off it. They like to rent a house so they can do their own cooking, and they like to have a swimming option or a more engaging option that the kids will enjoy at each place. The kids wanted to go to the beach and Matt decided on Collioure (see next episode) on the Mediterranean.

French Regions Have their Own Culture

[11:16] French regions have a strong local culture. Brittany is very different from Perpignan and the Catalan country! As soon as you get out of Paris you will see that France is made up of a patchwork of cultures. The two most pronounced cultural identities that you will find in France are Brittany and Basque Country. Next are Alsace, Provence, Occitania.

The TGV Train Station at CDG

[12:15] The flew into Charles de Gaule (CDG) and got on the TGV right there to go to Tours. You don’t need to go to Paris first, the TGV train station is located beneath Terminal 2 of CDG.  This is where they took the TGV to Tours, it’s a quick and inexpensive ride and much easier than battling Paris traffic.

Great Place to Stay near Amboise

[13:17] Their Bed & Breakfast near Amboise was one where they had stayed before. It is called La Rocheline in La Chevalerie in La-Croix-en-Tourraine. It’s a beautiful place on a farm. Everyone says they want to feel like a local, and going back to a place you’ve been before that you enjoyed is a great way to feel like you’re going home!

How to Burn Off Jet-Lag

[14:16] It takes Matt and his family 2 days to burn off jet-lag (that’s FAST!) When they arrived around noon they did some grocery shopping, then went on a walk along the Cher River. They saw Chenonceau from the outside, their point was to spend time outside and keep moving. It’s brutal when you land in France at 8 AM and you haven’t slept all night. You need to keep moving, preferably in the sun. The worst thing you can do is stay in your hotel room!

French Cheese!

[15:39] Matt loves French cheese, and the first thing they bought was his favorite on this trip. The way you find the gems is you go to a cheese shop (fromagerie) and ask for a great local cheese. The person will suggest something you’ve probably never heard of, but it’ll be tasty and it’ll be local! It’s great to ask for people’s opinions on what cheese they recommend because then you get to talk too, which is always fun.

A Visit to Chambord

[17:30] The next day they went to Chambord, the drive was easy and lovely, they ate a picnic lunch. Chambord is one of the largest Loire Castles with the famous stair-case. Parking is easy, it’s inexpensive and lovely.

First Off the Beaten Track Place:  the Mushroom Cave

[18:43] From Chambord they went to their first “off the beaten track” place. They like to go to places everybody goes to and others where nobody seems to go as well. They stopped at a mushroom cave called Cave des Roches. It’s a cave you can visit. It used to be a limestone quarry, but now the space is used to grow different varieties of mushrooms that they sell to restaurants and visitors. The tour was nice, but they also carved a mini city into the limestone, complete dogs and cats, doors, lamp-posts and trees. It’s bizarre but really cool. The tour was in French, but the tour guide explained some things to them in English as they walked from place to place.

Second Off the Beaten Track Place: Breton Festival

[20:59] They rented a house in Dinan, but en route they stopped at a village called Monterfil for a Breton Traditional Festival. It was about 4 hours between the Loire Valley and Brittany. The festival was Breton music and dancing and impromptu bar and grill and a pig-roast. They were the only foreign tourists there, there was no English spoken at all. They only sold Breton sodas there, Breton pride at its best! They ate sausages wrapped in a galette, which is very Breton thing to eat.

Visiting Dinan

[25:33] They rented a house near the port. Dinan is great for a home-base. It’s a pretty medieval town, has everything you could need, it’s very Breton, you can easily find Kouign-amann. Lovely town, nice house rental. It’s sometimes difficult to find a great place to rent with lots of positive reviews that doesn’t have a 7 day minimum, and this one had a 4 day minimum, which was perfect.

Public Swimming Pools and “Proper Bathing Attire”in France

[28:13] They went to the public swimming pool and when they walked in they noticed a big vending machine where the only thing they sold was bathing suits, which they thought was strange. They soon found out why: at a public pool in France you have to wear a tight-fitting bathing suit. At a spa with pools they’ll usually be more lenient, but not necessarily.

French People Hold on to Customs

[30:20] French People Hold on to Customs, sometimes for no good reason at all. That can be irritating, but that’s also what makes up keep our regional and national identity alive. French people like to do things a certain way and don’t like to change. This makes French people come across as stubborn. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

Tips for Visiting the Mont Saint-Michel

[32:15] Mont Saint-Michel is one of the biggest sites they saw on this trip. This was an A-level tourist site and it didn’t disappoint. They arrived around 4 PM so as they arrived there were people leaving and it wasn’t very crowded. You want to arrive when day visitors are going, which happens late afternoon. It’s also wonderful to spend the night on the Mont Saint-Michel, but the least you should do is get there after the tourists leave. And if you go around the back at low-tide, you’ll see some of the most peaceful scenery you’ve ever seen.

Quick Stop at Cancale

[35:24] Cancale is along the coast, they ate oysters right there along the beach for 5€ per dozen and they’ll open them for you and they’re the best ones Matt’s ever had!

Fort la Latte

[36:12] Change of plan because of heavy rain. They went to a castle right on the cliff edge right on the ocean, a place called Fort la Latte. They’ve filmed a lot of movies there (although not Game of Thrones yet!) because it’s very Viking, barbarian, very picturesque. Photographers must stop there!

Saint-Malo

[38:01] We talked about Saint-Malo on a previous episode on Saint-Malo and the book All the Light You Cannot See. Matt feels like it was a nice place but doesn’t have much to add to what we already said.  They went to the Sculptured Rocks, only about 10 minutes away from Saint-Malo. A monk spent most of his life carving it and it’s wild and amazing.

Gulf of Morbihan

[40:00] They had a 2 night Bed & Breakfast on the Gulf of Morbihan and saw some Celtic sites. The saw the stones at Carnac (10,000 BC), but it was rainy, and the experience was really standing in the rain looking at rocks, so the kids weren’t impressed. The next day they went to burial tombs at Locmariaquer and Gavrinis. They are tombs but they were designed by the engineers of the day to have the light hit them just so at a certain time on Dec 21 and the light would shine on the back wall. This is 7000 years before the Pyramids were built. Elyse talked about this the Gulf of Morbihan on Episode 123

Crêpries in Brittany

[44:00] Crêperies in Brittany are mostly family-run, they work hard, and they put a lot of creativity into it. Mostly at a crêperie you order one savory crêpe and one sweet crêpe and they are big enough that it’s a full meal. The hard cider is fantastic too. They call the savory crêpe a “galette”. Crêpe Normandie is a dessert crêpe with Calvados lit on fire. Calvados is an apple brandy, very dry is very strong. It was a little bit like pouring a shot of whisky on a pancake! Calvados is a super strong liquor, but it’s definitely local and you should try it if inclined.

French Tip of the Week

[52:00] Je suis heureuse d’aller à Paris la semaine prochaine, j’espère qu’il y fera beau !

Conclusion

It turns out that choosing to see both world-famous attractions and places no English speakers ever go is a wonderful way to discover France! And it’s wonderful that Matt shares his itinerary so we can go directly to the ones we like the best.

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France with Teenagers, Episode 159

France with Teenagers, Episode 159


France with Teenagers, Henry in his sister in front of Napoleon's tomb

Visiting France with your teenagers? On this episode Annie talks to Henry Calkins, a 13 year-old from Arizona who shares what he liked and didn’t like about his vacation in France. He’s got recommendations for your teens and what they can do to have a great time. His mother, Nancy Calkins also  talks about her favorite ice-cream place in Paris, just in time for the summer!

Places Mentioned in this Episode: Bayeux, Mont-Saint-Michel, Montrichard, Chenonceau, Cheverny, Paris, Senoble Ice Cream.

If you enjoyed this episode, also check out: Paris with Children, South-West of France with Children, Two Dads and a Child in Paris,  Visiting France with Children.

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.
What You Will Learn About in this Episode with Time-Stamps

4’20 What surprised you about France? It’s really clean and the architecture is amazing.

5’08 What all did you do on your trip to France? Landed in Paris and headed to Normandy first, then the Loire Valley, then Paris.

7’40 Of all of those things, what was your least favorite? Did you even like the museums? The Louvre wasn’t a favorite because it’s too big and takes too long. Loved the Orsay Museum.

9’22 Did you eat any strange foods in France? He loved the croissants, not a fan of osso-bucco. Didn’t get to try Orangina.

10’52 Did you see any strange-looking French people?  No, a few homeless people, but not too many. French kids are lucky because they have so many cool things to visit. Quality of life seems really good in France.

13’17 What is it like in Normandy for the D-Day celebrations?

14’32 Are there other parts of France you’d like to see? I’d like to see more of Paris and the South-West

15’20 Most people don’t think of Normandy as a place that’s cool for young people? How come you liked it so much?

16’38 What did you think of the Loire Valley?

18′ What advice would you give to kids and teens who come to France?  What are some good things to do before they come?

  • Read some history
  • Try some French food

20’15 Nancy’s favorite ice cream place in Paris: Senoble.

Conclusion

France is fun for people at every age. It was wonderful to talk to a young man who enjoys WWII history and made the most of his family vacation to broaden his horizons and quench his curiosity. Thanks for coming on the show Henry!

 

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