Beyond Champs Élysées 

You haven’t found any Eiffel Tower and Arc du Triomphe escapedes here because I’ve visited Paris before, thrice, and well…there’s only so many times you want to wait in line at the Eiffel Tower, and I never liked Champs Élysées anyway. 

But! There’s more to France than the tourist quarter of Paris. It was my last weekend with parents, and we railed over to the Loire Valley! 

Pretty is an understatement. Really. The hot air balloon photo – I didn’t do a thing but hold my camera to the sky and wait for the balloon to reach centre. It’s like thousands of hectares of canvas painting here. 

Friday we checked into the smallest castle in Tours, which has a three room BnB set up by the owner in the upper floors. It was a bit like stepping into a time machine – captivating and a little bit creepy. My green and grey backpack was so outrageously out of place. 

Saturday we kicked off with a visit to the mushroom caves. I didn’t know such a thing existed! 10 floors and hundreds of kilometres of limestone caves underground – the result of quarrying to build castles – became a wildly successful place to grow a great variety of mushrooms. We walked through a guided tour in French, Learnt how they grew, tasted them and generally marvelled at the wonders humans come up with. 

Next. Get this. Not only does my landlord own a grape farm in Provence where he produces wine that he gifts me, but he also is part owner of Chateau de Clos Luce aka last home of Leanardo da Vinci. Of course we visited. They’ve made it a museum of sorts. The grounds are beautiful, the rooms quaint, the kitchen strange and the machines unbelievable – there’s cool, there’s nerdy and then there’s da Vinci. 

We followed with a visit to another chateau, because Loire is all about the chateaus. This one we couldn’t go inside because … There was a wedding there! I saw the crowd on the terrace and it looked so…movie. 

This chateau was famous for growing hundreds of varieties of tomatoes. So behold – yellow striped boar and many others. 
I took the picture because look! Even a tomato farm sticks and signs had ‘design’ to them. Rustic maybe, but very tasteful. 

And the final visit of the trip – wine caves! We went underground to join 4 million bottles of ageing white wine. The way the bottles are turned with yeast for fizzy wine was quite interesting. The packaging process was also quite cool. 

An afternoon train back, and a lazy Sunday over. 

I’ll tell you more about work later!