Exploring the French Countryside

Exploring the French Countryside

Posted by on Sep 1, 2014 in Europe, France

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

After five days in Paris we picked up a hire car and headed into the French Countryside. Getting out of Paris was a bit of a nightmare, but thanks to the world’s best GPS  it didn’t take too long. The open French roads are wonderful. They have lots of large toll-roads that are perfectly maintained and allow you to easily and quickly (130km per hour speed limit) travel between two places. Of course it is more interesting and pleasant to take the slow, winding, pretty back roads, but sometimes you just need to get somewhere on time.

We planned to have lunch at Chateaux Chambord. I wasn’t really fussed. Scott had done the research and wanted to go there. Well it was amazing! The castle was absolutely breathtaking, even under construction.  The gothic spiers and architecture were haunting and the histroy was interesting. It took 28 years to construct and includes 440 rooms, 282 fireplaces, and 84 staircases!

“The château was built to act as a hunting lodge for King Francis IV however, the king spent barely seven weeks there in total, that time consisting of short hunting visits. As the château had been constructed with the purpose of short stays, it was not practical to live in on a longer-term basis. The massive rooms, open windows and high ceilings meant heating was impractical. Similarly, as the château was not surrounded by a village or estate, there was no immediate source of food other than game. This meant that all food had to be brought with the group, typically numbering up to 2,000 people at a time.” (Wikipedia)

To the side of the Chateau there were local markets and lots of restaurants. We had a great time tasting cheese, wine and sugary treats! The food options were fantastic and we ended up having large open sandwiches with lobster and brie topped off with a glass of wine. It was all very delicious and I am keen to head back there one day to do it all over again!

We then headed further south to Aubusson where we house-sat for friends we had met through a travelling families group online. While we were there we headed to a fantastic children’s playground and maze in Gueret. The boys had so much fun playing giant chess, playing on swings and slides and going through the “rainforest walk”. I concluded that the owners of the maze obviously have never actually been to a rainforest as it was cold, dry and there were mountain goats everywhere!

Next up was the Maze. We started in the middle and had to make our way out using clues. We would come to a sign and it would say something like “head in the direction that the Mona Lisa’s eyes are looking towards”. It was lots of fun and Tom had a great time running ahead and trying to read the signs. We eventually made it out after what felt like we had walked forever through the high hedge walls!

Near where we were staying was a goats cheese factory. I love goats cheese. LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Could eat it for breakfast and might have actually done so while we were in France. We had a wee tour and got to look in their processing and drying rooms and then taste a few different versions of the same cheese. Basically the hardness of the cheese was determined by the age. The older the cheese the harder it gets and the stronger the flavour. Naturally we bought a heap of it and headed home to enjoy in the garden. The kids LOVED watching the goats being milked (so did I) as they are curious little things (the goats … and my kids) and kept trying to reach Tom. Milo was a little less sure and preferred to stay with Scott!

We spent 10 days in Aubusson (near Limoges in the centre of France) and it was wonderful. We got to slowly drive around the area and soak in the French country lifestyle. Each town we drove through was so pretty and always filled with lots of bright boxes/wheelbarrows/tubs of wild flowers. It was just beautiful. The buildings are all old and still look lovely and very picturesque. We often joked that we felt like we were driving through a calendar.

While we were in Aubusson we also went to lots of different local markets, to Limoges for the day and spent lots of time enjoying our 120 year old French Farm house and gardens, complete with chickens and sheep. I really enjoying the slow nature of our journey and that we were able to explore at our own pace. We loved all the cheese and wine the area had to offer (and indulged perhaps a little too much!) but on the whole we are loving France!

Daily Costs:

Chateau Chambord:  Entry 11€  for Adults and free for Children

Maze: Entry 6.5€ for adults and 4.5€ for children over 4

Cheese tour: Free, all we had to do was buy some cheese which was about 2€ per piece (maybe 100g)

Share and Enjoy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *