A cooler morning brings the opportunity to pop back into Loches. Just as well too, otherwise we might have missed the spectacle of market day. It’s not that we actually need anything, but I can never resist the tomato displays – a great idea, being able to buy a mix of heirloom varieties by weight. Along with a pot of basil and a ball of mozzarella, a caprese salad is only ever moments away.
Glorious flowers too, although I’ve not yet worked out a way of having fresh flowers in the motorhome. A fixed vase point would be most useful.
It’s a great market, stretching over several streets, but I’m not too sure about these wild piggies, who appear very surprised to find themselves amongst a charcuterie display. The local kids were fascinated, not quite brave enough to touch them though.
There’s time to see the old hospital, missed yesterday, before heading back for our next destination, Azayle-Rideau, a little further along the Loire.
Built around the glorious Chateau of the same name, Azayle-Rideau is a picture of white tufa (limestone) stone charm.
But it’s the Chateau d’Azayle-Rideau we’re here to see. Built in the early 16th century, restored by three generations of Marquis de Biencourt in the 19th century, it’s in pristine condition. Set on an island in the Loire, it’s oh so very beautiful.
The chateau is considered a Renaissance masterpiece, with a combination of French, Italian and Flemish influences. Decorative in the extreme, even the stairwell ceilings are intricately detailed.
The display rooms are furnished, showcasing snippets of aristocratic Chateau life through the centuries. There’s also a modern art installation, creating dynamic displays as the tour unfolds.
The dining room display was particularly entertaining, the table coming to life as classical music played.
The tour continues up to the attic, where mouse-eared bats rule. A protected species, the bats’ safety is assured. Try as I might, I can’t see one, but come evening the attic is apparently full of them. Much neck straining eventually spots a leathery wing on high, but I would have liked binoculars and a strong torch to be 100% sure.
The views from the top floor are lovely, affording a closer look at the Chateau’s decorative details.
I rather love these ancient stone fireplaces too, tall enough to stand in.
The kitchen is full of my favourite:, copper pots galore.
Two outbuildings were added in the 17th century, now used as a cafe and gift shop.
There’s also the secret garden, with heirloom plantings,
and a chapel.
I’m in Chateau bliss. Very sadly, it’s not for sale. I’m sure I heard Himself utter “thank God” under breath.
Our tour completed, we stay for drinks, then dinner in the village. Italian for a change: lasagna for Himself,
a blanc pizza for me, an Italian version of a flammenkuchen.
My love of the Loire Valley has taken little to reignite. I think we’ll set aside some time on a future trip, touring the grand Chateau again, spending a little longer in this glorious region.