The day didn't look too promising and a lot of rain was forecast. We have been very lucky with the weather, not rained once really, only a few showers and we were able to go out each day. So out came my small camera bag holding the E-M5 II with the Panasonic 7-14 f4 mounted. I also threw in the Panasonic TZ101 because it takes up hardly any room. I had a feeling we were going to be inside quite a lot because of the rain. Having taken the GX7 with the small Panasonic 12-32 f3.5-5.6 yesterday I realised it just wasn't wide enough for interior rooms of the chateaus.
The first chateau wasn't too far away, Chateau de la Bourdaisière. The owner has turned the chateau into a high class hotel. We really didn’t know what to expect here. It's not that big but impressive none the less. The owner is quite an interesting guy, having dedicated himself to save, and grow, all the old tomato varieties he can get his hands on. All 600 of them! On the day we visited there was a fair going on with stands selling all sorts of goodies. They even had tomato soap on sale so we bought some. It's not bad either. I didn't realise there were so many different types of tomatoes, of all shape, size and colours including blue, striped green grey and black-red. To my surprise I found it really interesting.
Images from chateau.
Olympus E-M5 II - Panasonic 7-14 f4
Amazing water tower
What a great name for a tomato: "Bloody Butcher"
Unfortunately because I wasn't a guest I wasn't allowed indside to take some photographs. Shame because I'm certain it looks quite nice.
Our next stop was Chateau de Champchevrier. This will not be found in your run of the mill tour guide. It is still in private hands and they live here between June and September every year. It is situated in the middle of a forest and is used for hunting. During the hunting season a hunt is organized on a weekly basis. A pack of some 70 hounds are kept but they are not as large as those at Cheverny. They also seem a little friendlier. There are also a relatively large amount of racing horses on the estate and all-in-all it was very nice indeed. The ground around the chateau has been cleared and huge laws laid. Very quiet, peaceful and a very nice retreat.
As you can see this chateau is in the middle of nowhere. We weren't sure when driving down a little lane that we were on the right track.
I like cloudscapes too.
Olympus E-M5 II - Panasonic 7-14 f4
Technically speaking, photography was prohibited in this chateau. I didn't realize that until I was cought half way through the tour and the guide kindly asked me to stop. Still, I managed to get a couple of shots in.
Because of its location and size, it's often used for wedding receptions and the like. I don't think it's cheap but must be very nice in the summer. See images later on in this post for the open grounds available for the guests.
If you look carefully at this image, you can see the flue is actually a cannon barrel. It was cast for Napoleon but unfortunately he met his demise at Waterloo in 1815. Very ingenious I thought.
If you look on the right you can see a frame filled with coats-of-arms. There are quite a few of these in this room and they are the nobility that accompanied the owner on the Crusades (Eastern Mediterranean). Coats of Arms came into exisistence in the 11th Century, so this Crusade must have been a later one.
In each frame there are 100 coats of arms. Work that one out how many actually went.
There are some real treasures in at Champchevrier, this wooden staircase being a good example. To purchase this one would cost you many tens of thousands of Euros.
These tapestries on the walls are some of the nicest and the condition is excellent. You can't put a price on these as they're priceless.
I just couldn't resist this one.
The kennels are on the left of this image well away from the main house.
Can you imagine celebrating your wedding day at this location?
The dovecote in the image is one of the oldest in existence today.
Very nice and a lovely way to end our journey to the Loire Valley.
In the evening it’s off to Tours for a little night life and a meal since this was our last evening. I had a camera with me but I really didn't take a lot images because it was our last night. It was a nice and pleasant break here in the Loire Valley. Now I have to start planning visits for the remaining 380 chateaus
Tours Cathedral is one huge building.
The little Panasonic did a very nice job inside the Cathedral I think.
- If you are planning a trip like we have just done change your location every 4 days or so. That will give you enough time to visit all the major locations in the area.
- Allow plenty of funds for entrance fees. They are not cheap and of course double the amount if your partner is also there. I was quite surprised at how expensive it was.
- If you plan on photographing the interiors of these chateaus, I recommend you bring the widest lens you have. Mine was the Panasonic 7-14 and it was barely wide enough. If there was anything wider out there, I would have bought it (that's 14-28 in FF terms). I believe Canon have a wider lens nowadays.
- I brought a tripod along with me but never used it once. You can't use them inside the grounds and I had no time for any other type of photography. Your itinerary might differ however.
- Plan your itinerary carefully, and the time of year you plan to visit. We arrived when the French schools just started up again. if you plan to go during high summer (July-August time) be prepared to be overrun by tourists. It does get crowded and you may not enjoy your visit. As an example, Chambord gets nearly 1 million visitors per year, and the majority of those are during the summer months.
If you would to ask me which chateau I enjoyed the most it would have to be Cheverny. It's just superb. There are better gardens but as a chateau? It's unbeatable. Just my opinion.
Second place would go to Chateau L'Islette, simply because of its surroundings. Very peaceful and a place where you lose yourself.
All the rest would come in a close third.
I hope you enjoyed reading about our visit to the Loire Valley as much as we enjoyed it in person.
Any and all feedback is welcome.