Delicious Drives in France:


by - 15 June 2017

Desperate for a weekend away? Fancy going by car? Then follow this guide for a delicious drive road trip to the Château de Chenonceau.

Chenonceau, motoring around the Châteaux of the Loire Valley: part 1

In a hire car…

Your tour commences by collecting your hire car from Hertz. We were spoilt this time with a beautiful Range Rover Evoque Convertible. This kind of city 4x4 just cries out for a good spin in the countryside.

You can imagine our excitement, especially for Arno who acted like a big boy with his toy, and it must be said that AnneSo, too, was more than happy to top up her suntan by folding the roof down. That’s women for you…

So, where are you off to? The Châteaux of the Loire Valley for a weekend of (culinary) surprises. Ready? It’s probably best to take the shortest route, the motorway, so you can spend as much time as possible in the area once you’re there. And if you behave yourself, you may even be rewarded with a beautiful rainbow on arrival.

At the chef’s table

For your first dining experience let’s take you to “La Maison d’à Côté”. The cuisine is top-class (the chef trained with Paul Bocuse and Eric Reithler) and the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in its very first year. The chef’s name, by the way, is Christophe Hay.

You can quite literally dine at the chef’s table, right at the end of the counter where the chefs assemble their dishes, cook the various ingredients and busy about. This is where the magic happens. You can participate in the experience and watch your food bring prepared live with real craftsmanship. You can even chat with the chefs while you eat your meal.

If that’s not an original experience, what is? Your dishes are prepared using locally-sourced seasonal produce (even Sologne caviar features on the menu). The truth is, the chef has a garden where he grows his own vegetables, but what makes this so special is that the chefs take your order themselves and the creator of each dish serves and explains it to you.

We would advise you to choose the menu that leaves carte blanche to the kitchen staff: an array of either five or seven dishes, all of which are a total surprise, and quite right too, as we are sure you are an adventurer at heart. Some of the recipes were concocted at the Château de Chambord in the days of the Kings of France and there is no chance of you growing bored of the choice as the menu changes almost every month.

Right, time to get back in the car because you’ll be spending the night at the Château. So take the D951, drive along the banks of the Loire, and make your triumphant entrance in the convertible Range Rover.

Château du Logis

First things first, take all the luggage out of your spacious car boot. That’s a good start…

Now you’ll be ready for a good night’s sleep once you have been welcomed, noblesse oblige, by the charming owners. By the way, don’t you think your car fits in perfectly with this aristocratic setting?

Perhaps you’d like to know a little about the Château? The property comprises five bedrooms, three floors, a heated outdoor pool and three hectares of land, all the time remaining very environmentally conscious, featuring the first ever lagoon purification system for treating wastewater in France (installed in 1970).

This is sure to excite the David Attenborough in you.

We highly recommend booking the ground-floor suite comprising a large bedroom, spacious bathroom, private drawing room and views over the swimming pool and gardens. A chance to enjoy some peace and quiet!

A nice lavish breakfast will be served in the main reception room in the morning. How wonderful!

Feeling well rested? Ready to set off on the next stage of the journey to the majestic Château de Chenonceau? Your trusty steed is chomping at the bit outside. It’s about 50 minutes’ drive away so you have another chance to have some fun behind the wheel of your mighty convertible.

The Château de Chenonceau

Just to let you know, this will be the pièce de résistance of your trip. The cherry on the cake. The second most visited Château in France, after Versailles is the Château de Chenonceau. What with all the buildings and gardens, there’s plenty to see and do, and to think it was all planned and administered by the powerful women of that period- Diane de Poitiers.

Before going inside, we would advise you to visit the gardens designed by Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de’ Medici, as well as the maze. There’s something to suit every taste, and a different view of the Château de Chenonceau itself from each vantage point.

Once you’ve thoroughly feasted your eyes on the Château, you should visit the rooms featuring great works of art (by Nicolas Poussin, Rubens, etc.), splendid flower arrangements and fine furniture. There is also the stunning gallery crossing the River Cher.

Back in the open air, further delights await you; a series of 16th-century farm buildings await you, housing a workshop where the flower arrangements for the Château de Chenonceau are designed and put together.

Then there’s the flower garden, where all the necessary varieties are grown.

And as the sightseeing stimulates your appetite, let’s meet up for lunch at the Orangerie du Château, under the cover of the pergola and with a stunning view out over the park. The food – all seasonal produce – is excellent. The pike-perch with a Vouvray white-wine sauce comes highly recommended. A real treat!

Now you’ll be ready for part two of your road trip around the Châteaux of the Loire Valley. Shall we get going?


Stop one: Montlivault - La Maison d’à Côté

Stop two: Chambord - Château de Chambord

Stop three: Saint-Bohaire - Château du Logis

Stop four: Chenonceaux - Château de Chenonceau

Latest Articles