Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Loire Valley: Câteau de Cheverny and A Flea Market in France

Leave it to me to find a flea market in France.  On our way to Sologne we pass through Bracieux, a small town with tables set up in the town square with dishes, glassware, art, silver, and more.  Mr. Man is asking if I want to stop before the words are even out of my mouth—he knows me so well!  Turning up a side street we hunt for a place to park and then make our way back.  I am thrilled; especially as we didn't make it to the flea market in Paris.

We stop at a couple booths and see so many lovely things: a small wooden phone table in beautiful condition for €40, two gorgeous night tables, great chairs… if only I could get them home!  At one point a gentleman comes up to me and asks if I am Parisian.  My “Excusez-moi?” said with just a slight southern twang answers his question and he holds up his hand and shakes his head as he turns to walk away.

The weather is perfect, sunny and cool, and we spend an hour walking around, browsing the stalls.  At one table they are selling a lot of silver untensils, and I pick up a couple antique silver tea strainers and a beautiful antique silver spoon.

We look for other small trinkets we can fit into our luggage, before we drag ourselves away and get back on route to Sologne.

Château de Cheverny
The first thing you see upon entering Cheverny is the dogs.  Lots of dogs!  Apparently, Cheverny is a hunting venue and the kennels house about 100 French hounds.  Mr. Man is fascinated with them as they are either fighting, or, hmmm, how do I say this delicately... fornicating.  There are a few who jump up to put their noses through the fence for a scratch and one who sits calmly in the middle of the chaos as if he is bored by it all.  The aggression of some of the others puts me off and I have to turn away.

The Château has been in the same family, the Hurault family, for six centuries; although twice it slipped out of the family’s hands.  The current owners, descendents of the Hurault family, the Marquis and Marquise de Vibraye, live in private apartments in the right wing.  This is the most modern, and the smallest, of the châteaus we’ve visited.  You cannot enter most of the rooms and a few are blocked off with Plexiglas.

The Birth Chamber
(where mothers presented their newborn infants)
The Nursery
The First Rocking Horses
(from the time of Napolean III)
The most interesting room is the Arms Room, which contains weapons and armour from the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.  Most men would like to spend some time in this room and Mr. Man is no different.  I continue on to the adjacent room and return to find him still exploring.  He points out to me a small suit of armour worn by the Duc de Bordeaux when he was 4 years-old.

The King’s Bedchamber has a canopied bed with Persian embroidery from the 16th century and is surrounded by beautifully preserved tapesties from c.1640 depicting the travels of Ulysses. 

The flower garden is lovely and probably my favorite thing about this place, as it so often tends to be.   There are rows of colored glass coordinated with the colors of flowers in the next row.  My mind is already churning for how I might incorporate this idea into my own garden.

On the way to the garden we come across a large bird eating berries.  He doesn't seem perturbed by us and I inch closer to take his picture.  I am squatting on the ground when he suddenly flies right at me!  I squeal and duck, and Mr. Man and I, along with another couple meandering through the garden burst out laughing.  Message received!

For more pictures of Château de Cheverny and the gardens click here.

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