Tuesday 9 August 2011

Azay-le-Rideau and weather sprites

rainy street in Azay-le-Rideau
Sunday morning it was greyish and showery, but the meteo promised better later on. We remained sceptical; the heavens opened as we drove down our drive -- oh joy -- another sudden short but drenching shower. We were on our way to Chinon and Azay-le-Rideau well armed with 2 cameras and 3 umbrellas.

We'd asked Jane which of the chateaux she would like to visit and the choice had fallen on Azay; or Villandry, if the sun came out, as it has such lovely gardens. We hadn't been to either for years and years so were intrigued to see how much we remembered. We decided to make a final decision when we got to Chinon. That way we could drive through some of the vineyards as well as find some lunch and give the weather time to improve.
chateau's gilded stable roof

We drove via Ligeuil, Ste Maure-en-Touraine and L'Ile-Buchard where we stopped at a boulangerie which was still open and bought things for a quick picnic lunch. We already had fruit and mineral water in the car. Just as we left L'Ile-Buchard the sky turned purple-green and another drenching shower crashed down--not very encouraging.

Azay-le-Rideau 'floating' on its lake
Ever optimistic, we drove on to Chinon via the smaller D road on the north bank of the Vienne river. By the time we got there the shower had cleared and we were able to to sit on a bench on the south side of the river directly opposite the royal fortress of Chinon with the sun cheering us up. We were just finishing the last bit of bread and the fruit large when 'plops' of rain began to fall and we beat a hasty retreat to the car.

blue skies outside!

The decision was made--we would go to Azay-le-Rideau; it just wasn't the weather for rambling round the gardens at Villandry.

Arriving in the town we found a parking spot in the square and as it was still spitting we  found a cafe and had large basins of café au lait to warm us up before walking down to the chateau. You'd think we were posting about a visit in April, not August!!

Jane's treat!
However, France being France the weather can change at the drop of a (rain)hat. We had barely gone in queued for our tickets and entered the grounds or the clouds broke and it became sunny. Just look at the 
photos. The one of a street in Azay was taken only a matter of 5 or 10 mins before the one of the gilded roof!
After visitng the interior we went for a little walk round the gardens and by then people were sitting on the grass enjoying the sun. We even had a chilled drink before we drove home.


Jean said...

At least in between the showers it is warm and sunny, not grey and chilly like here!!
Azay is so beautiful, especially with the sky so blue.

ladybird said...

Azay-le-Rideau was the first Loire castle I saw ... that was way back in 1984. Since then I've been back twice, and still find it very beautiful, sweet and ... pocket size. So much better than the 'mastodont' Chambord is! :) Martine

Craig said...

As you say, it sounds like April. But cheer up, you could be here where it's ALWAYS April in mid summer! You remember it well, I assume?! :)

GaynorB said...

Love the pic of the turrett and blue sky through the window.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jean - mostly but it wasn't very warm on Sunday. My sister in law calls Azay a Disney castle because it is so small and pretty.

@Martine - Chambord was the 1st I ever visited way back as a teenager. Loved the 'son et lumiere' which was not one of these 'spectacles' but it is HUGE...

@Craig - oh boy do I!! Woolly jumpers and anoraks at the ready!

@Gaynor - amazing what a little sun will do!

Susan said...

Hey! We must have just missed one another at Azay. We had lunch outdoors (at the Coté Cour) with clients and managed to dodge the rain all day. Did you go upstairs to the newly opened roofspaces? - absolutely fantastic!

Craig: I have an Australian friend married to a Scotsman. She says that in the whole time they lived in Scotland (at least 10 years) she wore a sleeveless dress once. They now live in Australia...

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Susan - we got to Azay just after 2pm. parked in main square. Once we had tickets the sun came, and stayed out, which was lovely. Roofspaces were fab!! they will feature in next post...

JEH1002 said...

Hey Ant & Niall - it was all as amazing as you include in your posts. Amazing photos and descriptions relating to my visit in particular. Will catch up with all your postings from now on.
Thank you for a wonderful visit... I will definitely be back!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jane - you are so very welcome!! It was great fun having you to stay. :-)