27 November 2012


elegant dining2

Compared with our previous visit, the most obvious difference that we found when we visited Villandry in October was the furniture.  I’m fairly sure that the last time we were there, more than ten years ago, it was virtually empty – that’s what I seem to remember anyway.  Now it is full of elegant and beautiful furniture.

This is one of the things I love most about visiting castles and country houses anywhere, the opportunity to be really nosey, to ogle the furniture and decorations, to thoroughly immerse myself in the ambience and imagine what life was really like for the people who lived there.  That’s not so easy when there is no furniture.

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I could just imagine the guests at the dining table, enjoying exquisite food, served by immaculately dressed servants, engaging in polite conversation with each other - the rich and famous of days gone by.

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Maybe after lunch or dinner they would retire to a comfortable lounge for more conversation, or maybe a game of cards.  Perhaps listen to someone playing the grand piano.  That’s when they weren’t planning to murder each other or get their friends thrown into jail !!

elegant dining

Ah, what fun it would be to travel back in time and be a fly on the wall in Villandry.  Or even a daddy longlegs on the window pane !!

5 November 2012



Congratulations to all those who correctly identified the gardens and château at Villandry.  Although it was rather easy.  It’s such a beautiful and unique place that you never forget it, even if, like us, it’s years and years since you last went.


In fact it must be well over ten years since we last visited Villandry.  That’s the great thing about living in the Loire.  You don’t have to go to all these places every year, or even every ten years.  Just knowing they are on the doorstep is enough.


We spend quite a lot of time sitting on our little terrace, looking over the rooftops of the village, wondering what we shall do today.  Mostly we don’t do much at all, but knowing that we could do so many different things, or visit so many different châteaux if we wanted to, makes us happy.  There are more than a dozen within an hour’s travel from our village.


We have driven or ridden past Villandry many times since our previous visit, at least once every holiday.  That means probably a dozen times every year.  We have even stopped a time or two and had a snack or a coffee in one of the little cafés just along the road.  We would watch the hordes and hordes of tourists piling in and think “next time we’re passing, if it’s quiet, we’ll go in”.


Traipsing round anywhere amongst hordes of other tourists doesn’t appeal to either of us, though.  But in early October, midweek, at ten in the morning on a dull day when it’s threatening rain, is a perfect time to go.  This is what we discovered last month.  There were only a handful of other visitors so a lot of the time we had the place almost to ourselves.

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At home in Derbyshire we live only ten miles or so from Chatsworth.  We ride past many times every year, at all times of year, and marvel at how beautiful it is in all seasons.  But at weekends it is heaving with visitors so it must be at least twenty years since I walked around the gardens and possibly thirty since I went into the house.  Nick has never been inside at all.  But knowing it is there, if we wanted to go in, is perfect.


We did feel slightly smug about living just down the road from Villandry.  Of the few people that were there it was obvious that most of them were a very long way from home; Chinese, Italians, Americans.  I often think of friends of mine who lived in York and back in the 80’s they used to wear badges on their lapels that proclaimed “I’m not a tourist, I live here!”.  A lot of these people had had to go to an awful lot of trouble to be walking around the gardens at Villandry, whereas we had just left home an hour before.

We spent a good hour or so wandering around the gardens, and nearly as long indoors, taking lots and lots of photos.  Plenty for another couple of posts, in fact !!


2 November 2012


We have done more sight-seeing than usual this year.  Maybe it has something to do with the weather.  We have revisited places that we explored many years ago, and also some that were new to us.

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All of these pictures were taken at the same place.  Any idea where it is ??

Bon weekend !!

1 November 2012



I took this picture of hollyhocks in Le Grand-Pressigny on 22nd October.

Although the weather was not very good when we were there, it was fairly mild and it was good to see a little bit of summer hanging on.  Nearly two weeks later, I wonder if they’re still there.