Ok can you even?! Look at the stunning scenery in France. It is beyond beautiful in every way – the landscapes, the trees, the architecture, the history, the food, the art – everything! If you ever have the opportunity to go to Europe in the fall I insist you take it! Last year we went to Austria, Hungary, and Slovenia (with quick stops in Croatia and Slovakia) and it was absolutely divine. This year we were lucky enough to spend a week in October traveling in Paris and the Loire Valley. Given the beauty surrounding us we took a lot of photos and that is partially why I am only now, months later, sharing the photos with you all.
What more can I say about Paris besides it absolutely lived up to my expectations? I really did not expect it to given the hype surrounding that city and my own high expectations but I adored it. I am by no means an expert on it given we only spent a few days and I have tons of more things I want to see chief among them Musee de l’Orangerie, Bibliothèque Mazarine, and the Centre Pompidou. But on to what we did see and do!
We stayed right next to Les Invalides which includes museums and monuments relating to the military history of France as well as the resting place of the infamous Napoleon Bonaparte. This was also very close to the Eiffel Tower.
Just as stunning at night and even more romantic! We spent a few hours walking along the Seine and strolling through the Tuileries Garden.
At the Louvre! If you have been there you know that the castle itself is as magnificent as any of the art that resides inside it.
The Luxembourg Gardens were also just gorgeous. I may have had the best moment in my life there – biting into an exquisitely perfect almond croissant overlooking the Luxembourg Palace on a sunny fall day. Even just writing that out makes me so happy!
At Notre Dame! The gargoyles are of course quite famous but did you know that what you usually think of as being gargoyles (like above) are actually usually chimeras? I always find that fascinating – gargoyles always have a spout for water whereas chimeras are mythical or grotesque creatures used for decorative purposes. I guess the term gargoyles just grabbed our imagination more!
The Panthéon was really amazing to walk through – the crypt there contains Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas and Marie Curie!
Our favorite thing in Paris was the Musée d’Orsay – it takes off where the Louvre left off and has such wonderful works by Manet, van Gogh, Courbet and Renoir!
Shakespeare and Company is an English bookstore that Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald among others spent a lot of time hanging out at.
Our cute rental fiat we took out for our excursion into the Loire Valley!
Château de Chambord! Is not that the most magnificent building? King Francis I built it as a hunting lodge but was never really used because the massive rooms were too hard to heat and it was too far away from a village or estate and thus hard to feed the thousand people who visited it at a time.
Sorry for the overload of photos of Chambord but I couldn’t help it!
Pretty close to Chambord was the Château de Cheverny and a family still lives in part of it!
We stayed at cute little hotel next to the Château de Chenonceau so we walked there first thing in the morning and were greeted with this!
This part is left over from the previous château.
It was possibly my favorite château we saw and was fascinating. In 1547, Henry II gave thechâteau to Diane de Poitiers, his mistress who oversaw the building of a bridge over the river Cher and extensive gardens. After Henry II died his widow Catherine de Medici forced her to leave the château and added even more gardens.
Later that day we drove to the Château d’Ussé.
This actually was not the castle that inspired Sleeping Beauty but they did have a little creepy exhibit with scenes from the movie along this cool staircase.
The gardens were stunning!
The chapel at Château d’Ussé.
The Château at Amboise is right on the river Loire and was taken over by royalty in the 15th century are rebuilt. Charles VIII died there in 1498 by hitting his head on a door while watching a tennis match! Among other very interesting things that have happened there include Kind Francis I being raised there and Emir Abd Al-Qadir, who resisted the French colonization of Algeria, being retained there in the mid 1800s.
And we made a quick stop at Blois to check out the town and the Château Royal de Blois. This is where Joan of Arc was blessed in 1429 before departing to drive the English from Orleans!
Phew you made it through! Sorry for the photo overload but if you knew how many I cut you would be proud! :)