As I mentioned in my last post, we recently went to visit my twin and her family in France. She and her husband live near Paris, so we flew from Las Vegas to London and from there to Paris. The day after we arrived, the four of us went to Giverny, which is famous because Monet lived there for a time. The gardens are absolutely gorgeous and served as the inspiration for many of Monet's paintings. Here are some of the well-known lily pads. (Click on any of these photos to get a larger view.)
The next day we visited the château of Malmaison, where Josephine spent her final days. That afternoon, I attended my sister's quilt group, the members of whom were very welcoming. :)
Have you ever visited a French market? We did, and I couldn't get over how beautiful all of the food was. Everything was ripe and presented to its best advantage. These artichokes were enormous!
We spent one long and very pleasant afternoon in Paris. That may not seem like much, but both of us had been there before, so we concentrated on an area we'd never visited, Le Marais. At one point we stopped next to the Seine to watch a boat pass by.
The following day, all four of us loaded up for a trip to the Loire Valley, an area full of history. On the way, we stopped in Chartres to visit the cathedral, which is famous for the beautiful shade of blue that figures in much of its stained glass.
Our main destination was Amboise, a fairly large town with an important château that housed, among others, the king François I. Nearby is the château du Clos-Lucé, which was the final home of Leonardo da Vinci, brought to France under the patronage of François I. It's possible to see many of Leonardo's inventions here, as well as to see his beautiful gardens.
The town was delightful, and we were lucky enough to be able to watch a wonderful sound and light show at the château itself.
We stayed in a bed and breakfast (a chambre d'hôte) for the two nights we were away, and it was lovely! The door on the left led to my sister and brother-in-law's room, and the one on the right to ours.
One afternoon was devoted to driving into the countryside to do a bit of wine tasting. The area produces Vouvray wines, ranging from dry to sweet and including a few sparkling versions. They were delicious, and my brother-in-law bought several to add to his wine cellar. As for us, we couldn't resist buying one bottle to bring home.
On the way back to Paris, we stopped long enough to visit the outside of Chenonceau, one of my favorite châteaux. We found a shaded path through some woods and came up on the château from the back. The day was so beautiful that the château was completely reflected in the water it spans.
From there we drove through Blois to reach Chaumont, another town with a château. That château is a bit more modern, as you can see from this photo of the farm area. There were more lovely gardens here; in fact, the flowers everywhere we went were enough to make me drool! We just don't get that lush growth here in the desert.
The final couple of days of our visit were spent in my sister's home, visiting with our two nephews, one of whom was able to bring his fiancée with him (the other fiancée was working and couldn't come). We had such a good time catching up with them!