Up first, a couple posts about my two weeks in Tours. Tours is a city of about 130,000+ people that is located two hours southwest of Paris. It is the largest city in the Centre region of France, and lies right in the heart of the Loire Valley (named for the Loire River, the longest river in France). This was the location that I was originally supposed to be spending my whole month studying abroad in, but after some things happened that I wasn't expecting with my language school and also my host family, I ended up switching to a different program in Nice for my final two weeks (read more about my switch in this post!).
One of the things that I was most looking forward to having Tours as my study abroad destination was the plethora of chateaux in the area! Many of these beautiful old castles have been turned into museums that are opened to the public, and most are located on the Loire River and also have public gardens. Unfortunately, since I was only in Tours for two weeks, I was only able to make it to one chateau. The one that I got to visit was Chateau Chaumont!
Chateau Chaumont is located directly on the banks of the Loire River, in a tiny village that is about a 20 minute train ride from Tours. (If you take a train, it is about a 30 minute walk from the train station to the chateau.) The chateau, stables, and gardens of Chaumont are open to the public year round for tours and visits, and there is also a garden festival in the summer months. Chaumont was once the home of Italian noblewoman Catherine de Medici, and then was owned by other nobles until it was turned into a museum!
|The chapel room inside of Chaumont.|
After my visit to Chaumont, I took some time to really think about my visit to there. I want to be honest with y'all (without sounding like a downer). While I am glad that I did get to see one of the many famous Loire Valley chateaux during my time in this region of France, I don't think that Chaumont was the prettiest old estate/castle type place that I have ever visited, or will ever visit in my life. During my trip to England two years ago, my parents and I toured a few different castles, and many that we saw (including Windsor Castle specifically) seemed to be much nicer and elegant to me! I have also toured some estate homes here in the US that I think are much prettier and fun to see, including Portland Maine's own Victorian Mansion (an estate home turned museum that is a few hundred years old- each year at Christmas time the house gets all decked out for Christmas and my mom and I visited this past year).
I found lots of areas of Chaumont to be quite underwhelming, and much of the chateau was currently under renovation when I visited. You could see those rooms, but there was nothing in them except swatches of old wallpaper that used to be on the walls. My favorite room was definitely the beautiful chapel area, which is pictured above. (The stained glass was incredible!) Chaumont did have a large garden area, which I was excited to see since I love botanical gardens. But similarly to the castle, I was a bit underwhelmed by many of the gardens.
Some of the people from my language school who also visited Chaumont said that it was their least favorite chateau by far, and that they much preferred the nearby chateaux of Amboise and Villandry (as well as others). I wish that I had gotten a chance to see those! However, if you would like to see a nice recap of what Amboise and some of the other Loire Valley chateaux look like, one of my favorite travel and fashion bloggers, the incredible Julia from Gal Meets Glam, visited this area of France this past week, and has a recap post on her blog here.
But even though Chaumont wasn't my favorite part of France, it was still a nice afternoon, and now I can say that I have visited a chateau in the Loire Valley! See the rest of my pictures below:
|The mist garden|
|How cool is this garden?|
|Africa themed garden|
Stay tuned for more recaps from France!
xoxo Miss ALK