We then hit the road to see castles! We saw Usse, Langeais, Azay-le-Rideau, and the gardens at Villandry before we pooped out and had to go back to the hotel for a nap. My favorites were the Azay-le-Rideau castle and the Villandry gardens!Finally we drove to Chenonceau during the early evening. Chenonceau is probably the most famous chateau on the Loire. It is the one that literally arches over the river. It is probably the most expensive and the most crowded too, but definitely still worth it. It was helpful to go at the day's end when the crowds were thinning. Of course the Chenonceau castle was beautiful, the gardens breathtaking, there was even a labyrinth human maze - but the biggest hit of all with our family was the donkey! Connor learned that the donkey says "hee haw" and eats grass!
On our way back to the hotel we just had to stop and frolic in the yellow field of rapeseed in full bloom. Apparently it is a flower used to make all different types of oils. Quite an unglamorous product for such lush, golden fields.We even got to take in a sunset over the Loire near Amboise Castle!On Easter Monday we checked out of the fabulous Domaine des Bidaudieres and headed to Chartres, France. It was a charming town famous for its cathedral's classic Medieval architecture. Supposedly it is the "purest" example of Medieval architecture anywhere with its flying buttresses, stained glass windows, and relief carvings circling the altar. I was glad we at least made it inside a church on Easter weekend. The town of Chartres was still celebrating its Festival de Pacques so it was an extra special treat since there were bands and people dotting every corner of the tiny town. Chartres was a good stop on our way back to Brussels. All in all a great Easter trip - despite the initial traffic jam. I was homesick when we talked to our families on Easter, but it is fun to see our little family of 3 taking shape with each passing holiday together, relying on each other all the more. The Loire Valley is truly special. Sure, it is easy to get "castle burnout" when smushing them all in such a short time period - but just imagine there being 50 Biltmore Houses along the NC Blue Ridge Parkway. The quantity and quality of beauty is unfathomable. That is the only analogy I could come up with. It is fun to think back to this being the valley of the kings not too long ago!