Whilst Villandry is truly spectacular due to it's extensive gardens.... Azay le Rideau is equally impressive for two key reasons - 1) It's currently undergoing a 5.5 million euro restoration 2) it has one of the most impressive 'son et lumière' across all the chateaus of the Loire.
But restoration was our key interest, just how do you go about preserving a nation's heritage?
Having made the effort to get to the perfect 'motorhome aire' at Villandry (within walking distance) yet the one at Azay le Rideau is perhaps even better... set only a stone's throw from the actual chateau is sits on the banks of the Indre close to the natural island that the chateau was built on... it's also a perfect place to grab the bikes and enjoy this bike ride between both impressive chateaus.
Both girls were amazed at the 'mirror image' that the 360 degree moat creates of the Chateau... with each corner an impressive array of turrets, abutments and ornate carvings.
The impressively landscaped gardens offer an amazing cornucopia of trees.. from Atlas Cedars to oriental Ginkgo trees... with 'English Garden' created in 1815 to allow long concentric ringed walks to allow picture perfect views from every corner of the estate.
Yet the real beauty lies within... enjoying the Chateau built by Gilles Berthelot in 1510 yet lost in disgrace and acquired by François I in 1537...
The well laid out rooms provide a changing perspective of 17th, 18th and 20th century life in this Chateau... with ornate furniture adorning each room to add to the feeling of stepping back into history...
However this takes a further turn when you reach the attic room... the restoration is clearly displayed through a viewing gallery that allows the perfect chance to see history being preserved... The restoration has been cleverly woven into the visit of the Chateau and certainly adds to the visit rather than detracting from the beauty of the outer facade of the Chateau