Tuesday, April 1, 2014

France: Day 1

Our first day in France, was pretty foggy. We stepped off the plane and into the chaos of Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport at about 8:15. Neither of us was able to really get much sleep on the plane, but alas...we had to keep on going! After picking up our luggage, we found our rental car and hopped on the interstate to head to Cheverny.

Getting out of Paris was a little difficult, between my jet lagged map reading and our GPS which seemed determined to send us straight through the heart of Paris, rather than around it, we had a somewhat stressful departure from the city. By about 10:00, we were headed in the correct direction.

The first stop of the day, was a Chateau de Cheverny. This was a great way to start our trip. It took us about an hour and a half...or maybe two considering our fumbling around Paris, to get to Cheverny. We walked the grounds of the Chateau, stopped and  met the hunting dogs in their kennel, and walked through the gardens before touring the actual Chateau.

The Chateau is located in the Loire Valley and though it is open to the public, still has permanent residents who live on the third floor. This chateau had a very casual and relaxed feel, perhaps because it is actually lived in!
View of the Chateau as you walk down the drive from the entrance.

After visiting the Chateau we went to a tiny little Italian restaurant for lunch...I know, our first meal in France was Italian...but it was open, close by, and we were hungry! We ate our fill of pasta and then headed to the Maison des Vins d'IAOC Cheverny to taste some of the local wine.

This experience was very cool. When we got there, we spent a few minutes touring the small museum before going to taste. The tasting room was something I'd never seen before. There were probably 4 large floor to ceiling barrel structure covered in labels and spouts.

Wine tasting "vats"
First, we each tasted the four wines that were featured that day. I must admit Loire Valley wine is not my preference, but it was very interesting to taste the different types. Our favorite was the Rosé.

After tasting the four featured wines, we purchase three tastings. This is where this process got really cool. When you purchase three tastings, they give you a wine glass with a quarter sized microchip on the bottom (see below).

Wine glass with microchip.

Once you decide between the 50 or 60 options to taste, you place your glass on the pedestal beneath the spout of your chose wine and wait. Within seconds, a small light above the spout blinks and your taste is poured. After your third taste, if you place your glass on another pedestal, it will not refill. Pretty fancy schmancy, huh? Yeah, we thought so too! Because we loved this experience so much, we bought a bottle of rosé (we got to keep our tasting glass too) and headed to Amboise.

We arrived in Amboise and were dragging...that is the understatement of the century...so we took a nap and then showered and got ready to explore the town. Amboise is a quaint Loire Valley town. It was too early to eat dinner so we decided to walk around and check it out. We walked to the church, and then down the river walk. Everything was beautiful.

View of Amboise from St. Denis
Walking along the river.

There is nothing like a good stroll to wake you up! We loved our walking tour of Amboise. We stopped in a few shops and then decided it was time for a drink and a snack. We found the cutest little Creperie, Anne de Bretagne at the base of the entrance to the Royal Chateau d'Amboise and decided to settle in there until dinner time.

We each got our own small bottle of Loire Valley wine.
We had a nice light snack and lots of good conversation before heading down the street to have dinner at La Reserve. And wow did they deliver! Our first French meal was perfect! We split a bottle of Chinon (told you weren't huge fans of Loire wine...) and then had salmon carpaccio and my favorite, foie gras.
Wonderful bottle of wine to warm us up from walking around in the cold!
Salmon carpaccio
Foie Gras with poached pears.
Day one was wonderful. This trip was our first "big" trip with only the two of us and it was wonderful. We have loved our family trips, but this was a very nice and much needed vacation for us. More to come, so stay tuned!

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