Creeping along the winding Loire and Indre River with windshield wipers thrashing against the driving rain, we can’t help but wonder if we have made the best decision in trying to find Chateau Azay-le-Rideau. But, second guessing isn’t a great strategy when exploring someplace you’ve longed to visit for years. And, besides, what’s a little rain to former Seattle residents. So, keep on, keepin on is our motto.
The clouds break just as we arrive in, what we soon discover is, the very charming little town of Azay-le-Rideau. Touring the chateaux of the Loire by car is something of a double edged sword. The freedom to go when, and where, you want is sure convenient. But, then there is the damn parking issue.
Where can you park? When can you park there?
We stumbled upon a car park in the Place de la Republique, not far from a gazebo. But, more importantly, close to a café, Le François 1er, for a croissant, pain au chocolat, and chocolate au chaude, or a café to warm up with.
By the way, have you ever noticed, while a french breakfast is nothing to speak of nutritionally, it is terribly satisfying and delicious nonetheless?
Chateau Azay-le-Rideau: The Town
The experience of visiting a new village is always exciting, isn’t it? Rounding one corner after another finding new and delightful experiences.
Azay-le-Rideau is a charming little town, and strolling the largely pedestrianized streets is a treat. Streets name Rue Balzac, Rue Victor Hugo, Rue Gambetta, Rue Jeanne d’Arc, and others, just kind of add to the fun. Discovering a tasty patisserie or fun little shop is always a great time, too.
But, while walking Rue nationale, we were treated to a lovely scene. A small park alongside the River Indre. In, and of, itself not remarkable, but the mill race located their is almost heart-breakingly picturesque.
Chateau Azay-le-Rideau: The Castle
As if floating, the castle rests on it is own island, in the middle of the Indre River. Wandering the English gardens, strolling the paths, and getting lost in the serene calm is magical. Especially, an evening visit to the castle takes on a special feeling with a wonderful light show that bathes the chateau in light providing an evocative shadow performance accompanied throughout the grounds by piped music. It is well worth the small entry fee.
Chateau Azay-le-Rideau: The Interior
Stepping into the restored chateau you will find a magnificent collection of art and furnishings from the 15th to 19th centuries. The state has essentially created a Renaissance museum here that is very impressive. You’ll find tapestries and paintings, objects of daily life, pottery and antique chests, fine and rare tiles are spread throughout the rooms.
But, more than that though, is being able to experience the attic and its attention to detail. An attic? Yep! Pay attention to the craftsmanship, you will be astounded as to what the carpenters could do in that period.
I am not going to give it all away here. Why spoil it all? Take the opportunity, when in the Loire Valley, to check out Chateau Azay-le-Rideau, along with as many of the others as you can fit in. I guarantee you’ll love the experience.
Rue de Pineau, 37190 Azay-le-Rideau, France
+33 2 47 45 42 04
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