After Paris and Versailles we were more than ready to get back to some peace and quiet. We had already done a fair amount of camping in the weeks preceding in British Columbia and Wyoming but this would be our first experience in France . . . and we had no plan, no route, and no reservations. Again, getting the I-Pad fully connected, best decision ever!
Huttopia Rambouillet was fantastic; $18 Euros per night for the standard pitch, lodge like reception with restaurant and conveniences (like a fridge stocked with wine and cheese from the region), and this brilliant all natural, no chemical pool, whose filtration is provided by the vegetation in the wetland to the left.
Thanks to some great advice by our Parisan friend Veronique we set our route to see some of the 22 most loved villages by the French.
First up, Montsoreau, where we had an epic first evening. After dinner at a darling little creperie we walked around the corner to the Chateau de Montsoreau, a beautiful white castle built in 1455 at the banks of the Loire River. There there just so happened to be a concert performance in the courtyard, followed by fireworks at the foot of the castle.
The next day we rented bicycles and wandered around several little towns surrounding.
Lunch stop at le saut aux loups. The Loire Valley boast more than 600 caves carved into porous cliffsides, homes for wildlife and man since prehistoric times. Today many residences and businesses alike still thrive in these subterranean environments, where the climate stays ideal whether winter or summer. Many have been occupied as wine cellars, quoting
"In todays' wine industry, caves are increasingly being used due to the many financial and environmental benefits, such as low energy and minimalised land usage. The high humidity of these caves, ranging between 70-90%, reduces wine evaporation and provides an ideal environment for storing red and white wine (suggested humidity over 75% for reds and over 85% for whites). The constant optimum temperatures, 13°C-15.5°C, provides a perfect environment for storing wine all-year-round."
An antique shop within a cave.
Walking around Montsoreau at night was as picturesque as during the day. Stumbled upon this amazing little cemetary and neighboring mansion.
Our final morning at the market we picked up fresh fruits, cheese, wine, and breads from local artisans, which were so tasty they were gone by the next village.