After drinking all the wine and literally getting the ants out of my pants (check out the last post to understand this suitcase mishap), we left Domain de la Soucherie and continued our wine tour, this time heading to Chateau Bouvet Ladubay, located near Saumur.
We got so ridiculously lucky with the weather, considering it was early May. It was around 25 degrees and sunny pretty much the entire time we were there. Though of course to balance out our fortune with the good weather, we needed to have some misfortune… This came in the form of us not finding out until we were there that France had two national holidays during our trip, which frustratingly (for us, I’m sure they had a nice time) meant a lot of things were shut.
Thankfully we still managed to do everything we wanted to do but we did have to kind of work around it – there were limited restaurants and shops open a lot of the time, and we were never quite sure when we went somewhere if it was going to be open. We had expected to eat out a lot but often just bought snacks and stuff, and had those instead of a proper sit down meal. So basically, don’t be like us. Visit le google, and look this kind of stuff up before you go to avoid annoyances like this.
CHATEAU DE BREZE
When I visited the Loire Valley the first time (on a French exchange, with my high school), we visited Chateau Chambord – I won’t include a picture because my hair was very questionable back then, but believe me when I say actual chateau was (and still is) GORGEOUS. Chambord was a bit far away for us this time but there are many, many other chateaus around the valley to visit.
On this trip, as we had stayed at a chateau the night before and were staying in another in the evening, we decided to carry on the theme and have a chateau-y day. We chose to go to Chateau de Brézé, which isn’t a huge chateau but still a cool one to visit and spend time at for a couple of hours.
Its different because it was built on top of caves, so they had an underground chateau as well as a normal one, which you really don’t see a lot. Well, I’ve never seen one and I have been to at least 3 chateaus, so if you take that as gospel (which you probably shouldn’t), then underground chateaus are rare.
The caves were fun but absolutely freezing and definitely not somewhere I would have wanted to live but I guess if someone gave me the choice between risking staying put in the upstairs chateau and being killed in battle, or staying in the cold caves for a bit and living, I know which one I would pick.
These weren’t the only caves we saw that day either; after we arrived at our accommodation for the night (which I’ll go into later), we went to the winery down the road which also had its own caves.
Little tip: caves are cold. If you’re going to caves, wear something other than a summer dress because otherwise you’ll be chilly and you’ll look silly. There is potential I’m saying this from experience… When the tour guide put her coat on to do the tour I thought there was something up with her; it was boiling hot when she put it on. Then, slowly but surely other visitors started putting their jackets and warm clothing on too, and we realised we had missed a trick.
The tour was still really interesting and informative though – they produce sparkling wine there, which wasn’t our favourite, but we of course managed to test a few at the end. And buy a bottle. And then drink a bottle.
Also, the tour was actually free for us because it was linked to where we were staying which was pretty damn good.
CHATEAU BOUVET LADUBAY
A big part of why we chose the first nights accommodation initially was because of its location surrounded by vineyards, as opposed to the rooms themselves. Lucky for us they turned out to be really lovely but it wasn’t why we were excited.
With the second place however, it wasn’t the location but the accommodation that we were looking forward to. It was in Saumur which is a short walk from a lot of wine producers but wine wasn’t made on site. A bit of a change from the last place but in fairness, staying at an actual vineyard isn’t really an every day occurrence. It was a huge, grand chateau with a handful of over the top rooms inside. Well, in actuality, they are all suites so each guest has their own handful of over the top rooms.
Fred and I’s room for example, was bigger than my flat in London. I’m not even exaggerating; it had the main area with a bed and table, plus a few chairs. Plus a little room with a desk in it and a bathroom, which had a bath, a shower, a toilet and also, a strange little coffee table with a chair next to it, in case you decided you wanted to hang out in the bathroom. I can’t say we did but I guess it was nice to know the option was there… Answers on a postcard, I guess?
It definitely had its quirks. I’m not sure all of them were positive but they made for an interesting stay. Its the kind of place I can imagine being discovered abandoned in 100 years and taken over by YouTubers. Its kind of on its way to being abandoned now, in all honesty.
When we arrived, a lone man came out of the house and introduced himself. Genuinely still unsure if he was a ghost or not. He had an office right by the front door and when he went out, he left the door to it along with the front door wide open leaving his laptop and everything else on show, there for the taking. We didn’t take anything obviously but any old Tom, Dick or Harry could have wandered in (don’t worry, the guest rooms have individual locks on the doors). He was very nice but seemed a little like he was on another planet. He told us to explore the garden because there were lots of protected things in there and I still have no idea what he was referring to that was protected because all of it looked like it was falling down.
There was a huge set of rusty spiral steps attached to something that looked like a wind turbine. I’m sure there was a use for it at some point but sadly, I can’t tell you what. We did climb it to try to see, but that was more as a dare to ourselves than an attempt to get the wind turbine going. It was locked at the top so we managed neither.
There were some other things dotted about the gardens – a massive old aviary, a little cave, some statues and a swimming pool that covered up, so there could have been more weird things left in there as well, its a mystery.
The content of the gardens weren’t the only things falling apart, there was a beautiful conservatory off the side of the house filled with plants and it was rusty as hellll. It looked pretty cool and actually connected to our room, which was nice to look out on but when you were inside it, there was a constant worry that a pane of glass might drop down and kill you, final destination style. If you’re up for a look, don’t stand near kind of conservatory this one is for you.
Aside from that, and my mum’s worry that ghosts were going to come out in the middle of the night while she was sleeping, it was lovely. We drank a bottle of wine outside and then went to a restaurant nearby that the ghost receptionist booked for us. It was inside a cave and pretty atmospheric. The waiters couldn’t have been nicer (even though they were short staffed due to the public holiday) and the food was really good.
For us, this was our last night and it was a really nice way to end the trip. The next morning, my parents dropped Fred and I off in Tours, where we got a bus back to Paris. I did actually book train tickets initially but then the French train strike began, which affected a lot of trains, we didn’t want to risk it. If you’re travelling outside of strike times, definitely get the train – it only takes an hour and is much nicer. The coach wasn’t bad – it was cheap, comfortable and warm BUT it takes ages.
We were only away for 5 days but we did so much in that time, it felt like a lot longer. I still came back feeling really relaxed and refreshed though, which is a bit of a rarity for a trip where you’re travelling around a lot and doing different things. I suppose the copious amount of wine we drank probably helped.
As I said in an earlier post, I adore Paris and would happily go back there at any opportunity. I also really enjoyed visiting the Loire Valley again and would love to do a longer trip, staying at more places and drinking more wine. I’m not sure if my body would be particularly pleased about this but I for sure would be.