Menu of the day:
Look out the window,
Stop for what is beautiful,
Drive some more.
Listen to the radio,
Stop for a drink,
Take some photos,
Find a hotel,
How many castles chateauxs are in France?
How many times have I said, "Oh my God! Look at that chateau?"
Probably 5,005 times so far.
Am I sick of them yet?
No, more in love.
Which one in my favorite?
That is like asking a mother which one of her children she prefers most. For the record, my mother preferred me. Sorry brothers! But I am the only daughter.
A few hours before we arrived in Paris the other day, we passed through Bellegarde. A small village in the Loiret region. As it was around noon, we stopped for lunch. That is how we fly, no plan, wherever we are around noon, we have lunch. Wherever we are around seven in the evening we start looking for a hotel.
Bellegarde provided a wonderful little pearl of a restaurant.
Cafe au Chateau. What a name!
The chalkboard outside provided different menu options:
Menu du Jour,
Menu for the Workers.
Simple tradtitional French fare.
We had carrot and celery root salad, a cepes omelette, cheese, creme brulee and wine.
As we arrived around 12:15ish, the cafe was empty. In France lunch is served between 12:30 and 2:00, before or after that it is less common to find a restaurant (outside of a city) serving lunch. As the clock struck 12:35 the cafe filled quickly.
The Menu listed for Workers, was in demand. Twenty or so workers from the chateau sat in another room for lunch. The Cafe is part of the chateau complex and features high ceilings, with large naive paintings.
Built in 1376 by Nicolas Braque, was the home of the Duke of Antin, son of Madame de Montespan, the famous mistress of Louis XIV.
Two 1700s pavilions flank the entrance and gardens.
The pavilion of the Salamander, which houses the Town Hall, contains remarkable woodwork. The other pavilion is next to a"Captain" tour. The entire property is made with brick and stone (1717-1727).
The rose gardens, arranged around the dungeon 12th-14th centuries, also surrounded elegant turrets.
The chateau du Bellegarde was closed, we peeked into the windows, it was mainly empty and appeared to be used for meetings due to the tables and chairs we saw.
My cousin Nicole asked me why the French Goverment did not take more care of the chateauxs, preserving their history? I assume that with over 30,000 chateaus in France, most privately owned, it simply cannot. Though certain tax breaks are offered to help differ the cost for those who do own a chateau.