Chouzy and the Loire valley
The tiny little town of Chouzy is tucked in the countryside south of Blois city along the lower Loire River. Its in the Loire valley; castle country. The Loire valley was the choice spot for the French royalty to build their hunting lodges and getaway retreats. Thus, the Loire valley is packed with the grandest and most luxurious French chateaus.
We were lucky to get a wonderful couchsurfing host in the town of Chouzy. Actually she lived a little outside of town. We were really in the French countryside. “Gorgeous” does not do a just job of describing the incredible natural beauty of this area.
We arrived later than I had predicted on Saturday March 28th. I turned off the main road to go to follow the signs for Chouzy, and then pulled over to check the map. A woman came running up to our car and asked if we were Scott and Soon. Yes, I replied, “Are you Catherine?” She was our host and because we had arrived late she had to run her daughter up to a school function. She told me how to drive the short distance to her house and that she would return there in about 1 hour.
I drove on trying to follow the instructions and cross-referencing with the address I had. It took a couple of tries but I found it. Catherine returned. The sun was about to set and she suggested we go for a walk in the field across the creek behind her house. See the below photos and you will see why this could be called relaxation therapy.
We were running a bit late on things so we just had a bite to eat and got tucked in for the night.
On Sunday we needed to do the usual thing, and that is get to a supermarket and pick up some food. We always buy our own food so we are not freeloaders on our couchsurfing hosts. This has us going to the supermarket a lot more often than you might think. It is culturally quite useful to have a look around supermarkets. You get an idea of what people eat and what they don’t eat. It also gives you an idea of prices. There are some things you can find in almost every supermarket in every country in the world; a can of coke, a loaf of bread and some sort of hotdogs. We know what these things cost in America and Korea so we are able to make a comparison between the new country and our own.
We drove into the town of Chouzy to stop at the supermarket. There was none. There was a butcher shop and a bakery. They were closed. The ONLY place in the entire town that had any signs of life was a bar. Even that didn’t appear open but we could see people inside.
We parked and went in. It was empty except for 6 guys and the bartender. They were officially closed but this was a special group of locals that just seemed to get together on Sunday mornings.
The whole group of them were surprised and interested in us. We told them we were traveling. We asked them what their jobs were. We ordered coffee. The mutual conversation continued and it was a group effort to communicate to us in English. It was fun. We took photos together. When we left, our coffee was on the house.
One of those nice experiences you stumble into when traveling around the world!
The first order of business on Monday was to get Soon Jeong into the doctors office to get her bladder infection taken care of. (The details of that are in the previous story under Bordeaux)
FYI the total bill was 30 Euros for the doctor and 6.42 for the medicine. And we didn’t have insurance.
The NEXT day we took Soon Jeong to the dentist office for an early morning appointment. Our host Catherine had been so helpful to make all the appointments in advance for us so, we were all scheduled by time we arrived.
Soon Jeong’s tooth had been hurting for some time. I insisted that we get it taken care of because tooth decay is not something that fixes itself. A rotten tooth doesn’t heal up and go away.
The dentist X-rayed and checked and found no tooth decay. The root of the problem was just simply, age. As we get older our gums recede and expose a part of our teeth that are sensitive. This is what the dentist found on Soon Jeong’s tooth.
This was kind of good news because it meant that there was no cavity. It was not a happy realization for Soon Jeong. Yeeees, the clock is ticking and we all are getting older. Receding gums is just one of the reminders of that. Total cost: Dentist 21.00 Euros and 12.50 for special toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
With all health worries taken care of we drove out to see some of the chateaus in the area.
Chateau de Chambord, probably the most recognized chateau in the world. One reason for this is that it is one of the screen savers in Microsoft Windows.
The main reason is that it is just amazing in size and luxury. It is the largest Chateau in the Loire valley with 440 room and 84 staircases. They say there is one tower or chimney for each day of the year. It certainly would stand to reason because there are 365 fireplaces.
Chambord was built in French Renaissance style in 1519 and served as a hunting lodge for King Francois I. (about 20 yrs of construction but not fully completed until 1559) a hunting lodge on 13,000 acres of land.
The real surprise is that King Francois I spent a total of less than 8 weeks there. Its really impressive and worth a visit. Entrance 8.50 ea.
On Monday right after our doctor visit we drove off to Chateau de Chenonceau. Chenonceau was built on the river Cher in the early 1400’s. It was completely torn down in rebuilt from 1515 – 1521.
The chateau has earned the nickname Chateau des Dames or “ladies Chateau” because throughout its history it has been the favorite residence of some very powerful and bold women. It was in fact the woman who added on and refurbished the chateau to make it what it is today.
And it is a beautiful chateau that begs to be photographed.
Entrance fee 10.0 Euro ea.
Our couchsurfing host was absolutely wonderful. She had two teenage daughters that were delightful. One afternoon she cooked a French meal with Soon Jeong for her World cookbook.
Another evening Soon Jeong prepared a Korean meal for the whole family including the mother and father of our host.
The atmosphere of her home was warm, cozy and inviting.
We had a wonderful time there and we almost didn’t want to leave for Paris.
But we had reservations in Paris.