Monday, December 10, 2012

Chateaux Beauregard & Cheverny

On Halloween we were busy cruising around the Loire Valley checking out chateaux. There was a themed visit at the small, quirky Chateau Beauregard for the spooky day. The name alone made me want to visit it. Have you seen Auntie Mame?

{Chateau Beauregard}

The tour guide and chateau historian told the scary story of the assassination of Henry IV.  His head was disembodied from his embalmed body by revolutionaries and lost for years only to turn up in an attic somewhere years later. It could only be identified thanks to a massive scar on his temple from one of two previous assassination attempts. This guy was not popular with the Catholics.

{Larsons at Chateau Beauregard}

The story, while gruesome in my scaredy-cat opinion, was not nearly as horrid as the big kids had hoped. The bookish historian sure thought it was scary. I could tell. She seemed to take great pleasure in enunciating each foul word of the well-known history of France's Protestant king, his chariot overtaken by zealot Catholics who stabbed him to death along the side of the road. And then of the blood-thirsty revolutionaries who dug up graves and severed royal heads, casting them away to far flung parts in a disgusting game of cache-cache.

{look at the knife marks on the old table}

There is a magnificent collection of royal portraits in the upper floor of the chateau. None other exists that is as extensive and well-ordered, so said Mme Historian. P-Daddy spent the better part of an hour up there while the kids colored photocopied Halloween pages and I snooped around the ancient kitchen.

{can you see any ghosts?}

There was a wonderful Dutch grandfather clock that mesmerized me. A ship bobbing along the canals, moved in time to the second hand guided by tiny weights. Look at the moon. It changes throughout the month. Stunning, isn't it?

{Grandfather Clock detail, Beauregard}

We also visited the Chateau Cheverny, famous for being the Tin-Tin chateau. This may mean absolutely nothing to you if you're reading from the US unless, of course you've seen Spielberg's computer animated version of the Belgian boy and his sidekick dog. Tin-Tin is big in France. Big!

{Chateau Cheverny}

Cheverny is also famous for its hunting hounds. Alas, their kennels were being renovated while we were there so we missed out on watching 100+ dogs eat their lunch. Pity.

The best part about Cheverny for me was the wine. They make a white there that is a blend of Sauvignon-Blanc and Chardonnay grapes, usually in proportions of 80% to 20%. It was the perfect balance of tart and buttery. Try some if you see it at your favorite specialty wine cave.

Larsons at Cheverny

Only two more to go and one of them is a biggie, Fontainebleau.