The Loire Valley has one of the most dense populations of chateaus, or castles, in the world—about 300 in all. Built early on for defensive purposes against invaders ranging from Vikings to the English, they evolved into palaces for the elite. Some have been taken over by the modern elite/rich. But yesterday we visited one that has been in the same family for hundreds of years and has become a labor of love: Château de Gizeux
Many local châteaus are open to the public—those that aren’t owned by Mick Jagger, Saudis, or other elites. They are a mix of privately and publicly owned. Château de Gizeux was a great way to see how one family preserved this property for future generations. They use a mix of paid tours, overnight stays, and events for children and adults. While we were there a film crew was filming a period piece for French TV or theater. Unlike their wealthy ancestors who had servants and tradesmen to do their work, they do a lot of the work themselves—everything from cleaning to masonry. Makes the work that we do helping keep up a 52 unit condo building or a single family home look pretty easy in comparison.
This château also had a secret room that had been used by art students to paint pictures of other French castles on the wall. Covered up for many years, it was discovered by an ancestor of the current owners. The murals are currently being renovated with funding by private individuals.
Our ride yesterday started out under gloomy skies and was hillier than the day before. It wound through forests and vineyards. After our visit to the Château de Gizeaux we got caught in a brief rainstorm. Frankly, we have been very blessed by the weather on this trip—have not been caught outdoors in any hard rain. We were trapped outdoors at the local bar by a thunderstorm. There are worse ports in a storm.
Check out Laurie’s Relive video for more pictures of the castle and the countryside.