Roses, Chambord Gardens and a Birthday

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I think I should begin with an explanation about why I haven’t posted since the begininng of June! It’s very simple – lack of time! I used to post every day when on holidays but realised that Jean Michel had ended up writing the travel diary by himself and our evenings were completely tied up as a result. When we’re at home and I’ve been translating all day, I don’t really feel up to writing blog posts. I do, however, keep up my Loire Daily Photo blog (almost daily). The good news is that, I have had some time this week to write a post for Aussie in France so here we go. 

Le Clos aux Roses, aptly named

Birthdays and anniversaries are always a good excuse to discover new restaurants, but by October, a lot of places have closed for the season. With the ever-helpful advice of my friend Susan from Days on the Claire, we choose Le Clos aux Roses in the beautiful little village of Chedigny in Touraine. We drove through it recently and discovered it is famous for its roses. A rose festival is held there in May on Mothers’ Day every year. We book a table for lunchtime on Wednesday as it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

A typical rose-covered cottage in Chedigny

The weather is spectacular, especially for October, and we arrive in Chedigny around 11.45 am, which is plenty of time to wander around the little village admiring the little cottages and gardens. There are still flowers in front of the church and more roses than I would have thought at this time of the year. It must be truly magical in May and June.

The garden next to the church in Chedigny

The restaurant is quite empty to start off with but gradually fills up while we are there. With a set lunch menu at 12 euro 30, I’m not surprised it’s popular. We choose the Discovery menu at 40 euro each. It includes an amuse-bouche with our vouvray, a starter, a fish dish, a meat dish and a dessert. We decide on local wines by the class so that we can pair.

Our écrevisses

Jean Michel has a vol au vent de ris de veau et langoustines, while I have the foie gras. Then we both have the écrevisses followed by duck served with fresh vegetables from the chef’s garden. Jean Michel has a mint and blackcurrant Norwegian omelette while I have a chocolate dessert. We enjoy everything except the desserts which are a little disappointing.

Inside Le Clos aux Roses with Armelle Kraus, the chef, serving.

The service is friendly and relaxed, with monsieur waiting on table and madame in the kitchen, helping in the dining room from time to time. Armelle Kraus is an up and coming chef from the Ecole Supérieure de Cuisine Française Grégoire Ferrandi in Paris. Her creations are based “on a deep respect for nature and the magic of tradition”.  We will be going back there in May when the roses are out (but not during the festival weekend when it is very chaotic, we are told).

Château de Montpoupon

We then head for Château de Chambord, which isn’t exactly next door (over an hour away) but the countryside is lovely and takes us past Montpoupon Castle, Montrichard and Fougères Castle! We marvel at the fact that we are in close proximity to so many beautiful architectural masterpieces.

Château de Fougères

At Chambord, we park and go to get our free passes. From mid-September to mid-October, entrance to the castle is free this year for people living in the area. We tried on Sunday but the queues were so long that we bought an ice-cream instead, walked along the canal and went home! I love the fact that the locals like to visit their castle. It’s the only one in the Loire Valley whose grounds are open free of charge to everyone all year round. We often cycle there in the summer just to have an ice-cream with a view!

Château de Chambord from the back façade. The gardens are on the other side.

However, we have not yet seen the newly-restored 18th century formal French gardens which only opened this year. We start with the rooftop terrace with its famous chimneys so that we can see the gardens below, by far the best view. We walk right around the terrace so we can view the surrounding countryside from every side then complete the visit by wandering around the gardens themselves. However, it is still early days yet and they are not nearly as impressive when you’re at eye level.

Château de Chambord taken from the gardens

I thought we had visited all the rooms in the castle itself, but additional wings have been opened since our last visit. None of the furniture and furnishings originally come from the castle which was a hunting lodge and completely empty most of the year. When François I came to visit, he brought everything with him. I like the “18th century’s apartements” best (that is not a spelling mistake on my part – it’s what the sign says!).

The canal along the side of Chambord taken from the roof

We also take a look at the newly-restored kitchens before we leave but they are not of any particular interest.

One of the rooms in the 18th century wing

The way out is through the very large shop, something I usually avoid, but today I find four tapestry cushion covers for our new sofa which are just the perfect colour and design!

Le Clos aux Roses
2 rue du Lavoir
37310 Chédigny
Wednesday to Sunday noon included.
Closed Sunday evening.
02 47 92 20 29

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7 thoughts on “Roses, Chambord Gardens and a Birthday”

  1. A shame you didn’t like the desserts so much. I’ve had the blackcurrant and mint bombe Alaska and thought it was good. I think Armelle is a terrific chef and I think they’ve really got their heads screwed on in terms of work life balance and why they bought Clos aux Roses. Do go to Chédigny in May/June. It’s so pretty you’ll be blown away.

  2. I went there in the 80s but loved my recent visit but sorry we didn’t stop there for lunch .I really enjoyed the whole experience ….
    ..the gardens were stunning thanks to a donation from a wealthy American .
    I think everyone should visit here

    1. I had been told about Chadigny on several occasions. We accidentally drove through it recently, then Susan suggested the restaurant so it seemed the perfect choice.

  3. So glad I checked in again today. I had guessed you had been very busy and have always admired your ability to regularly post.
    What a lovely village and I can just imagine the beauty when all the roses are out.

    With the crystal clear blue skies, Chateau de Chambord is incredibly beautiful, a fairy tale castle.

    Château de Chambord

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