Sleeping Beauty Castle and Chateau de Villandry

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Today started the same as the previous two...a lovely breakfast in the chateau (complete with pork and champagne) but, today was special.  We were going visiting the chateau the girls had been waiting months to see.  The Sleeping Beauty castle. (aka Chateau d'Usse)
It was pure luck that I found this chateau.  It's not one of the more famous ones and therefore not mentioned as often when you google chateau's of the Loire Valley.  But, when I saw the wax figures of the famous kids book (and movie...which my girls haven't seen, because, well, the movie scared the crap outta me as a kid and I don't want to do the same to my girls...yet) I knew that we just HAD to see this one.  I showed the girls pictures and they went crazy with excitement.
Also on our list for today was to see Villandry...famous for its beautiful gardens.  
Everyone ready to go...back in the car and on the road.
d'Usse was first built in the eleventh century and was handed over many times through the years.  It is said that Usse was the castle that Charles Perrault had in mind when writing the story of Sleeping Beauty.  The castle is still lived in today and therefore only a portion of it was open to the public.  (how totally cool to live in a real life castle everyday)
It wasn't nearly as grand as Chambord nor as pictueresque as Chenonceau...but the girls loved every minute.  We followed the path through the castle in search of the room where sleeping beauty was laying in bed with the prince standing by her side.  We must have walked back and forth ten times before I peeked into a window and saw the room...then my brain finally told me to try the door I was standing in front of..and viola..we had found her.  Funny enough, Sara was disappointed...Sleeping Beauty wasn't sitting exactly like she was in the photo in the brochure...kid doesn't miss much.
We left the castle and toured the grounds...the gardens were small (in comparison to others) but the stables held old carriages that the girls had fun checking out.  We saw old wine cellars that had been built into the rock wall.  And we stopped in the chapel..very pretty inside.

With happy girls, we hopped back in the car and headed for Villandry.
The actual chateau of Villandry is not as impressive as some of the others...but, that's not what it's famous for...Villandry is known for it's gardens.  And they were stunning.  But, we'll start with the chateau first...
The original keep was built in the 14th century.  It was expanded in the 16th century.  In 1906 Joachim Carvello purchased the property and poured huge amounts of time, devotion and most important...money into creating what many say are the most beautiful gardens anywhere. There is the water garden, the ornamental flower garden, and the vegetable gardens.  It is still owned by the Cravello family today and is one of the most visited chateau's in France.
We had a lot of fun looking around the inside which was decorated beautifully and modestly (compared to Versailles where every nearly every inch was covered in murals or hung paintings)  We ended up on the roof (where daddy freaked out about the girls trying to peer over the top of the rail) and I was able to get some fantastic shots of the garden.  This was the one time I wished we had waited a couple more weeks before coming to France.  Spring was not in full swing yet and much of the garden was still a bit bare.  Nonetheless, it was incredible.    We purchased some seeds from the flower shop on site and we'll get to have our own bit of Villandry here at home in Saudi...(of course, planting anything new will have to wait...we're already in the 100's here)  ugh.
So, we have now seen 6 chateau's in three days.  The hubby is officially chateau'd out.  But, that isn't going to stop me...lol.  Next up we spend some time in Blois (and the chateau there as well)  And the following day we take in the sites at the last home of Leonardo Da Vinci.  


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