Friday, April 16, 2010


Because it was my birthday, my husband took me on an over-night adventure in the Loire Valley, just south of us. Being born in the spring was a very good choice! The trees were beginning to come into bloom in snowy white or heartbreak pink, the fields were brilliant green and the wild flowers in yellow, white and rose covered the hillsides and meadows. The weather was warm, but not hot. We had ideal days for strolling and driving through the countryside along the banks of the lazy Loire river.

Our final stop was Chinon, best known for it's pleasant light red wines and lovely old historic town.

Chinon was also the residence of Henry II Plantagenet of England (1133-1189) who ruled over his English and French domains from the enormous castle that dominates the town. Henry was married to Eleanor of Aquitaine and father to Richard the Lionheart. Eleanor had been the wife to Louis VII of France, but when Henry came to pay a visit to the French monarch, he took Eleanor away with him when he left! She took a huge hunk of what is now France with her. She was the sole heir to her father's massive lands (16,000 sq mi) in southwestern France. The story of Eleanor and Henry is portrayed in the 1968 movie The Lion in Winter with Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn.

The castle of Chinon is now a ruin, but it is one of the most imposing castle structures I have ever seen. It dominates the entire hillside above the city, which rests on the banks of la Loire.

The Loire River is the longest in France, about 630 miles. In Chinon, which is towards its terminus, where it flows into the Atlantic, the river is wide, calm and shallow. The banks of the Loire, all up and down the valley, are dotted with châteaus and vineyards.


  1. Thank you..thank you for taking us along on your lovely holiday! Your photos make me want to hop on a plane today...;-) Loved the history lesson..kings and queens fascinate me! Have a wonderful weekend.
    Janet xox

  2. "Elle se retire à nouveau à Fontevraud à l’automne, et meurt à Poitiers, à l'âge de 82 ans. Elle est inhumée à Fontevraud où l'on peut toujours voir son superbe et célèbre gisant qui voisine avec ceux de son second mari Henri II Plantagenêt, de son second fils arrivé à l'âge adulte Richard Cœur de Lion et d'Isabelle d'Angoulême, l'épouse de Jean sans Terre."
    This is the end of Alienor's story and one day you must pay a visit to Fontevraud, a superb historic place too. I personaly love all these river Loire places full of history, castels and so and good wine !I think it is a "must" in France !
    Finally your "overnight adventure" seems to be quite exciting !!!

  3. Forgotten ! Also Rabelais's area, the famous "bon vivant" of french literature !

  4. Well, I obviously should have been paying more attention to all of those 'English history' lessons we used to get here in Australia. I am sure I would have been much more interested if I had have twigged to the French connection (see, I really wasn't paying attention).

    Thanks for taking us on another journey Nancy. We are now up to 6 months in France on the next visit.

    Belated birthday wishes to you - looks like you had a good one.