Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Report from the Périgord and the Loire Valley

(click on image to enlarge)

Chambord (with a bit of garden borrowed from Hautefort)
Watercolour, crayon and CP
©2011 Charlene Brown

On June 11, 2000 we were in the Périgord region of France, where we went on a tour of the Chateau Hautefort – probably should have stayed out in their wonderful garden, even though it was threatening rain most of the time we were there. The estate was a real treat – acres of Cedars of Lebanon and geometric and filigree-sculptured boxwood. The inside is mainly spiral staircases and furniture they don’t encourage you to sit on, but you do get a nice look at the geometry of the gardens from the tops of the turrets.
About 2 pm the sun came out, so naturally we headed for the caves!  Lascaux, with their 17,000 year-old cave paintings, discovered in 1940, but closed to the public since 1963, have been faithfully replicated and the result is wonderful to see – all those familiar bulls and horses almost close enough to touch.
We spent a day looking at Chateaux in the Loire Valley, and what a day that was! First, we went to Chambord, the largest of them, with what must be the world’s best arrangement of blue-slate-roofed turrets – and an equestrian show we arrived just in time to see. One of the high-lights was a lady in a blue velvet ball gown riding side saddle over a series of flaming barriers, and the horse, a white Arabian mare, pranced and flicked her two-metre tail in perfect time to the music (which was The British Grenadiers, for some reason). She could teach those Lipizzaners in Vienna a thing or two.  We pressed on to Chenonceau, the one that actually crosses the river (the Cher, which flows into the Loire at Tours) on six beautifully arched piers. As luck would have it, we arrived at the same time as a whole lot of teenagers on a school tour – infinitely more interested in each other than in any beautifully arched piers, lavender and rose gardens, Diana de Poitiers, Henry II, Mary Queen of Scots, or anything else about the place.