October 15

We stumbled into some serious good luck today. We spent the morning visiting the enormous chateau of Chambord, with its fantastic double-helix staircase and grounds larger than central Paris. But never mind that.

Our good luck began last night, when the lights went off briefly in our apartment. Our apartment is one of two in the building, and it was quickly apparent that the residents of the lower unit were dealing with the crisis, which was great–because otherwise we would have no clue what to do, other than go get Chantal, our fabulous landlady. (And we were in good hands, because our downstairs neighbors solved the problem quickly and competently….by going and getting Chantal.) As it turns out, Chantal is a teacher of computers and electronics at a local school. And her expertise apparently extends to restoring power in blackout situations, because she had our lights back on within one minute of her arrival.

And then she accepted our invitation to come in and sit a spell with us. We talked about a bunch of things with her. At least, I am pretty sure we talked about a bunch of things, because the whole conversation took place in French. And my French is quite adequate for ordering another croissant aux amandes, but gets a bit shaky when we are talking about a bunch of things. But Chantal made it quite clear that we should see the chateau at Chenonceaux at sunset, and (I thought) recommended that we go the next day, i.e., today.

Fast forward to this afternoon, when we were winding down from a our visit to Chambord, enjoying a snack, and making plans to visit Chenonceaux tomorrow. We hear a knock on the door, and voila, it’s Chantal. She asks how we are doing, and whether we are still “courageux.” And then she hangs around a little bit. Pretty soon she asks if she should wait for us in the car. And we finally clue in: we made some plans with her when she was here last night, and we’re going to Chenonceaux together!

October 15 ChenonceauxOK. We recalibrated quickly, and avoided causing an international incident. And then we were rewarded with a wonderful insider’s tour of perhaps the most beautiful chateau in the Loire valley. Chantal took us to the far side of the river and led us up a “secret” path, where we caught the chateau lit up by the setting sun.

May we all be so fortunate in our stumbling!

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4 responses to “October 15

  1. Hi,

    I loved the link with the details about Chambord: 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces, 84 staircases and possibly 1000 chamber pots! Good ole Francois I invited 2000 guests at a time, and they refurnished the entire place every time the visitors were to arrive! Oh, my God. And we think having a dinner party for 10 is a big deal!

    Voluntary simplicity was not the motto of the day. The next owner added a horse stable to hold 1200 horses! These guys thought big and were definitely out to do more than keep up with the Jones’s!

    I love that they then kept passing this enormous, gorgeous albatross off to some fortunate (?) family member or friend (?) who got to restore and remodel even further. And then the Americans bombed part of the place during WW II after the French had stored invaluable treasures of art for safekeeping there. It reads like one of the most fun adventure stories ever written!

    No wonder Marie Antoinette thought it best to “Let them eat cake!” She was obviously a “big” thinker and fully indulged herself too!

    C’est le vie!

    Love, M – 3

  2. missing you guys and still enjoy catching up on your international travels via blog. hope you’re all doing well. your house looks to be in good shape and when you return to the hood, there will be wine waiting for you at the Perk….

  3. Chantal is also the name of my master baker’s eldest daughter, for which he named a cake that we still make today: chocolate genoise, amaretto syrup, hazelnut mousse filling and cover, dark chocolate ganache glaze. Delightful!

  4. Chantal is also the name of my master baker’s eldest daughter, for whom he named a cake that we still make today: chocolate genoise, amaretto syrup, hazelnut mousse filling and cover, dark chocolate ganache glaze. Delightful!

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