Friday, September 4, 2015

Solitude in the Loire Valley

I have been grossly negligent in updating you on my various adventures, but you see, I've been busy having adventures! After I finished my studies and work, I took a week-long holiday to the Loire Valley where I spent my days roaming around castles, vineyards, and gardens. It was a week of rest and renewal, and a bit of indulgence as I mentally and spiritually embraced my next season of transition. I had a glorious week of solitude in this valley famous for its castles, which is also an epicenter for spiritual pilgrimages.



Thanks to the help of a dear friend, and the generous hospitality of a new friend, I got to stay in a beautiful home perfectly situated in the heart of the city of Tours. Each day I would go out and explore, then wrap up the afternoon down by the gypsy camp at the river. Ok, it wasn't a real gypsy camp, but it was an outdoor bar with live music and dancing, and all sorts of creative seating overlooking the river.

La Guinguette (The Country Café) - or in my mind The Gypsy Camp
The Game Shack (bus) at The Gypsy Camp

These boats reminded me of the gypsy boats in the movie Chocolat
The outdoor library/study at The Gypsy Camp

One day I rented a bike and rode to the nearby village of Amboise. It was a beautiful but long ride along the river and through vineyards. The chateau was impressive, but I was also intrigued by the many houses built directly into the cliffs. I also discovered wine caves built in the cliffs, which gives a whole new perspective on a wine cellar.


Another day I hopped on the train and went to the village of Chinon. We passed through field after field of sunflowers and more vineyards too.  I enjoyed exploring the village with the comforting presence of the chateau towering overhead.

Unknowingly, I saved the best chateau for the last. I was a bit done with seeing castles, but had heard this was a must see, and I am very thankful I made the effort to go. The chateau of Chenonceau is a grand estate, with all of the outbuildings, flower and vegetable gardens immaculately kept. From every direction the castle takes on a new personality, and I found myself thoroughly immersed in the history of the various women who had lived here, while I soaked up the beauty of the architecture and the landscapes.

This was a week of quiet reflection. I filled up a lot of journal pages as I prepared to say goodbye to France and re-enter the US. It was an ideal location for me to embrace this next season of transition. I was able to revel in the beauty and splendor of the French countryside, indulge in the delicious French cuisine, and simply be present to my heart and soul.



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