Saturday, 11 July 2015

Live Action Heritage Conservation

Heritage conservation work is going on all the time in the Touraine Loire Valley chateaux. These days the best practice approach is to ensure the visitors can see what is happening. It's used as a way of positively enhancing the experience rather than causing disappointment that an object is missing from its usual display spot.

The Rigaud portrait of Louis XIV being restored at Chenonceau.
We always rather enjoy the opportunity to take visitors to see conservators working. Our background means that we can explain exactly what is happening and how heritage conservation is managed so that these wonderful chateau will continue to be in a condition to receive visitors for generations to come.

If you are interested in this sort of behind the scenes aspect of presenting a chateau to the public email us and we will be sure to include opportunities to learn more in your Touraine Loire Valley tour with us.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Meet the Locals and Hear Their Stories in the Loire Valley

Because we know the area intimately we can take you to all sorts of places that you might not otherwise see. Along the way we will often talk to locals who know the story of what we have come to see.

For example, not many people outside the Touraine Loire Valley realise that the great American sculptor Alexander Calder lived for many years just outside a small village here. His house is now run by a foundation that provides a residency for young artists, and in the market square there is one of his standing mobiles.

Clients talking to a local in Saché.
If we are going in that direction we usually stop to admire the mobile, and our clients are amazed that, like many works of art in France, you can get right up close to it, with no barrier. Calder was a well known figure in the village and well within living memory. Sometimes a friendly local will approach us to tell us about the statue, which they are very proud of, and if we are lucky they will be someone who knew Calder personally. Then there are tales of drinking with the great man in the bar across the street.

If you like the idea of not just visiting the famous chateaux, but are open to serendipidous encounters, email us and book a tour. If nothing else, the iconic cars we use will ensure a conversation starts up somewhere we stop.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Where are the Loire Chateaux?

The Loire River is very long and many of the administrative districts along its length make reference to it. Several French départements (counties) have the word 'Loire' in their name, for example, the one where we are based, which is Indre et Loire. The départements are grouped together into Regions. You would think that the Region in which the UNESCO World Heritage area is situated along with the most famous of the Loire Valley chateau would have been called something sensible which gave international visitors some clue when they were researching their holiday.

Curiously though, the Region was called Centre until the beginning of this year -- an anonymous name that was completely unhelpful to visitors who were not familiar with French geography. Happily, after considerable argument in administrative circles, we are now part of the Centre-Val de Loire Region. So if you are wanting to visit the chateaux of the Loire, search for them in Centre-Val de Loire. (Insider tip: also use the name of the old province in this area, Touraine, which is what many local people still use for this area.)

And if you really want to get the best from visiting the chateaux, email us and ask us to custom design a tour of your favourite Loire Valley chateaux.