Our Time in the Château d'Artigny
We'll arrive from Paris on the afternoon of Monday, May 6. The staff will greet us with a reception in one of the grand halls or outdoors on the terrace overlooking the river. After check-in, take time to explore the buildings and grounds of this great estate. Our hotel has 56 bedrooms spread over three buildings. The Main House offers ballrooms, music rooms, libraries and dining rooms; the Chapel is a direct copy of the chapel at Versailles; and the Perfumery has the largest rooms on the property with some of the best views. You can even go between buildings via the underground passageways (very cool). Our festivities will commence that evening with a great banquet and concert.
Our Salon at Château d'Artigny
As has become our custom, we will divide our group into several smaller groups during the daytimes. Each group will go on a different adventure and take lunch in a different restaurant each day on a rotating basis. So by the end of the week you will have the opportunity to enjoy all the excursions. We have had the great pleasure of visiting the many local châteaux, vineyards and gastronomic shrines in order to pick out the very best ones to share with you. For example, the Château de Chenonceau, built during the early 1500s, functioned as both a palace and a bridge. It's been a focal point of French history and French historical figures for 500 years. It's been owned by three queens and several mothers and mistresses of kings. The fact that it was the only bridge over the river for several miles saved it from being destroyed in the French Revolution. In WWII, the chateau straddled the border between the Nazi controlled and the “free” parts of France, respectively, with the front door and back door controlled by different governments. We'll hear many colorful stories.
We'll take lunch one day at the l'Etape Gourmande, a farm to table restaurant with a wonderful ambiance and lovingly prepared cuisine created in a 300-year-old farm outside the village of Villandry. We'll also visit the nearby Château of Villandry, which has one of the most famous gardens of France.
The fairytale Château d'Azay was built at the same time as the Château de Chenonceau. The finance minister of King Francis I joined with the mayor of nearby Tours, and used creative accounting to pilfer enough money to construct the first Renaissance-style chateau in France. The chateau was only half finished when the bookkeeping discrepancies were discovered. The minister lost his head and the mayor fled the country. After our visit, we’ll lunch in Les Grottes, a wonderful little restaurant built into the caves under a hill in the village.
We’ll visit Amboise and the Château du Clos Lucé, given by Francis I to Leonardo da Vinci. This is where the great artist and thinker of the Renaissance passed his last years. By coincidence, he died there in the first week of May 1519, so we will be there on the five-hundredth anniversary of his death.
The Gardens of Château de Villandry
Da Vinci’s Workshop At Clos Lucé
When he died, the Mona Lisa, still unfinished, was on an easel in his studio. The studio is still there with many of his drawings and tools where he left them. Amboise is a wonderful little town. We’ll have some free time to shop or visit the grand palace of Francis I that towers over Leonardo’s chateau.
We’ll take a little walking tour of the old center of Tours. There are lots of antiquities from Roman times, a magnificent cathedral, as well as charming antiquary shops like from an old novel. We also have a gastronomic treat in store. Our sommelier in d’Artigny, Antoine, has arranged for us to lunch privately in Le Saint Honoré, a restaurant created by one of France’s rising culinary stars, Benoit Pastier.
Antoine Lefort, Sommelier au Château d’Artigny
In order to give you time to use the spa, ride horses, bicycles, helicopters or hot air balloons, we will keep one day free at the Château d’Artigny. Or maybe you’d just like a day to relax. It’s up to you.
Each day we will arrive back to the Chateau by mid-afternoon in time to relax before we start our evening festivities. We will offer an hour of talks, tastings, and demonstrations on diverse topics. We have already made several wonderful contacts concerning the art and architecture, wines and gastronomic specialties of the region.
Benoit Pastier, chef of Le Saint Honare’
Amboise and the Loire River