As world travelers and photographers, Henderson Productions joined forces with our friends from Poggio Amorelli B&B to explore culinary France. Master Chef contestant Angela Perkins contacted chefs in five distinct regions and asked us to design and document the trip. We knew it would be a journey for our senses: to see, taste, smell and touch France. Above all else, we aimed to enjoy the adventure. We are delighted to report those goals were met and more. Along the way many chefs gave us permission to include their recipes to help you recreate some of our experiences. We invite you to appreciate the bounty of their gifts. Bon Appetit et Bon Voyage.
A couple hours later and we were rolling into the decidedly more formal Loire valley twisting down long lanes of tall trees and turrets of all sorts glimpsed everywhere we looked. We had a couple hours to spare before our check-in to the next Airbnb house so opted for a side trip to see the medieval town of Chinon perched precariously on the top of a town along the river Loire. It was too windy for an outdoor café but the little Tabac shop on the corner while lacking charm, provided consumable and evacuative respite with a view.
We pulled off the highway into a suburb of Tours and a 300-year-old, 3-story house along the Loire. It was certainly unique. Steep and twisty stairs led to two levels of bedrooms with a jetted tub on the highest level (how the hell did they get THAT up there?) and a rain shower on the middle level. The attic room had almost no noise but sloped ceilings and somewhat treacherous access.
I made a ham, cheese and onion frittata served with salad dressed w clementine balsamic and a fresh loaf of bread from around the corner. Some would say “why would anyone live here” but the bus stopped immediately outside, the house was small and easy to clean, we were right across the street from the start of at least 30 km of waterfront pathways and parks and a small bread factory was across the street. Really? No brainer. I couldn’t retire with all those stairs but I can sure understand why someone would live there.
We spent the next day on a crazy chateau journey. We pre-selected the two we wanted to see as Chambord and Chenenceau. There are certainly many, many others and we could have chosen to stay more days but two was our intention for a flavor of the region. Chambord is the largest and most impressive with formal gardens and thousands of acres of hunting and hiking grounds. We spent three-hours trooping up the Leonardo Da Vinci-designed double spiral staircase to four levels of apartments and balconies and galleries with the piec de resistance at the top of the turrets where the ladies of the court could watch the hunt from all directions. It was cold and drafty, and the stone floors made us all a little achy making us grateful for the half-hour drive to Chenonceau.
What a lovely little gem. For starters, it’s half or less the size which was a huge relief. Originally created as a small country chateau, Henri IV gave it to his mistress Diane who instantly began building a bridge across the river Char as part of the chateau. She also put in a formal floral garden to one corner of the property. When Henri died, his wife Catherine di Medici promptly ousted the mistress, built a better garden on the other side and added three floors of galleries and ballroom spaces above the bridge making it the only chateau traversing a river. It’s soft and romantic and reminiscent of fairy tales of old and especially when seen from Catherine’s exquisite gardens in full bloom.
Excited and exhausted, we counted our blessings to have had a taste of the Loire Valley but to be honest – we preferred the more rural Normandy so far.