Friday, January 14, 2011
Between Christmas and New Year's, Rod and I took the kids to Chenonceau.
It is an impressive chateau built over the river.
Yes, it is big and beautiful and has lots of history.
Blah blah blah. But you want to know what it really interesting to the kids? A wall in the process of falling down.
They also really liked running around in the maze. They chased each other around. They were very loud. Rod and I sat on a bench and let them run around and shriek with laughter. We were hoping that none of the French people who frown on loud American children were nearby. There was another family around the maze, but they were not speaking French. They might have been speaking German. But I am not up on my German so I really couldn't tell you for sure.
Can you see Gabi there in the center of the maze?
One bit of history that did catch their attention was the girlfriend's garden versus the Queen's garden. King Henri II gave Chenonceau to his girlfriend (or the proper term mistress) Diane de Poitiers. After Henri II died, his widow Catherine de Medici kicked out the girlfriend and moved into Chenonceau. The widow Queen didn't like the garden of the girlfriend so she had her own garden put in. When we were walking around the chateau, the kids would look out the window and ask "Is that the queen's garden or the girlfriend's garden?" Then we had to walk around each garden and decide which one was better.
Here is Ellie in the Queens' garden.
In case you are interested, the falling down wall borders the girlfriend's garden.
The Queen thought the girlfriends garden was too gaudy and over the top. She wanted a more serene and refined garden.
Here is a photo in the girlfriend's garden, which is much bigger than the Queens.
The kitchen in Chenonceau is so interesting to walk through. It is in the basement of the chateau. You can see where they used to haul water up from the river. The kitchen is not one big room but a series of smaller rooms with different functions. A room to butcher and hang meat. A larder room. An area to bake bread. A room for the servants to dine.
I asked a woman who works in the chateau about a certain item in the kitchen. It looked like a coffee press thing to me. She told me is was a press alright. It was a press to squeeze the blood out of rabbit. ok. gulp. A French kitchen is no place for wusses.
Look at these butcher knives. We kept a close eye on Joey here. He had a certain look in his eye - like he wanted to test out those knives. Look on the righthand side of the butchers table, can you see the saw? Not a job for wimps.
I just love these copper pots.
Ellie is checking out the bread oven.
All my kids in a fireplace. That is not a sentence I type very often.
Below is a picture taken in the gallery. The gallery is a long room that extends over the River Cher. During the WWI it was used as a hospital. During WWII, the river was the line of demarcation. So one side of the river (the side with the chateau) was occupied by the Germans. The other side of the river was the free zone. The Resistance was able to use this gallery to smuggle people into the free zone.
Ellie is standing in front of the door to that leads to the other side of the river. It looks short because you can't see the steps leading down.
Last but not least, here is a picture of the side of the chateau getting restoration work. I can't imagine it was easy placing the scaffolding in the river. Then again, I can't imagine it was easy to build a chateau in the river.