This was my first attempt to a solo trip but I was feeling a bit bold, and I wanted to explore the so-called “off the beaten tracks” of France. Far from the hussle and bustle of the city. And far from where the normal tourist would willingly go. Destination…the Loire Valley!
I wanted my trip to the French countryside to have a unique experience. So, I planned (at least roughly) a different set of activities to do there. I wanted to do a lot of cycling and walking, hopping from one town to another to see the famous castles that the Loire Valley is known for. I also wanted to stay for a few days in an actual castle!
Unfortunately not all of my plans materialised due to unforeseen circumstances like my hot air ballon ride over the beautiful Chenonceau Castle. The tour company called me last-minute to say that the ride was cancelled due to strong winds. I was also unable to make it to Amboise because of a strike. So I was unable to visit Château du Clos Lucé (Leonardo Da Vincci’s official residence during the 1500s).
I decided to base myself within the Chinon area. This historic commune is famous for its Château de Chinon. It is a medieval castle, once a home to the kings of France and England. In as much as it’s a very charming little town that is very rich in culture and history. Stationing myself there wasn’t a very good idea since I wanted to cover more ground and yet I only have a few days to burn.
On sundays and mondays the town is virtually a ghost town. As most of the shops and restaurants are either empty or closed. For a lot of people, it could get boring. I do think however that the town is at its most enchanting during these two days. Walking along the empty cobblestone streets of Chinon was delightful and haunting. And cycling by the Vienne river during sunset was so exhilarating, it became my go-to place when I daydream.
For the 2nd half of my trip to the Loire Valley I decided to stay in an actual chateau (castle), just 8 kilometers away from Chinon. It’s a 15th century castle called Château De Marçay located in the village of Marçay. The food in the restaurant was a bit pricey but it’s most definitely exquisite. The room is very cozy and the service was tiptop! My only regret was that I couldn’t stay there longer.