I’m yet to find anything I love to do more than exploring castles – what could possibly be better than losing yourself in a fairytale? The history, the art, the architecture, the fashion – I love everything about it. It’s so easy to lose yourself in a dream in such beautiful places, to imagine yourself into a time of princes and princesses, of magic, and mystery, and romance. Whilst there are some things that the 21st century does much better (sanitation and women’s rights, anyone?), I’m quite convinced that I was born in the wrong era, and should have been born a princess (or at duchess, at the very least). But alas, it wasn’t to be. So I guess I’ll just have to be content with visiting these beautiful places, and imagining that I’m the lady of the castle.
Château d’Ussé was at the top of my list of châteaux to visit for my first time staying in the Loire Valley. You really shouldn’t be surprised, given that it’s Sleeping Beauty’s castle – it’s rumoured that Charles Perrault stayed there whilst writing the tale, and that the château served as the inspiration for the castle in his story. Anyone who knows me well will know that I absolutely adore Sleeping Beauty, and that Once Upon A Dream is one of my all time favourite songs. Needless to say, my time at the château was spent singing and hoping that Prince Phillip would join me in a duet – no such luck though. The beautiful château and the exhibits within (almost) made up for the lack of a handsome prince – between an exhibit on fashion throughout the ages of the castle, the beautiful furnishings from the castle’s heyday, and the walk through story-telling of Sleeping Beauty, my heart was happy. You know how sometimes you just have those experiences that make you want to pinch yourself, because you are so incredibly happy that it couldn’t possibly be real? That’s what visiting Château d’Ussé was for me.
Our day ended with visiting Château de l’Islette (seen in the last picture), a small château nearby Azay-le-Rideau, which I hadn’t previously heard of until it was recommended by one of the other guests at our B&B. I am so glad that we decided to visit this château that didn’t feature in our original plans, as it was one of my favourites from the trip. My only regret is that we didn’t take a picnic – the grounds are amaaaaazing, and basically the perfect place for a picnic, so if you’re going there make sure to take some food and relax on the grass! The family who owns that château actually still lives there – can you imagine living in a FREAKING CASTLE?!? If you own a castle and are ever looking for someone to housesit, I’m your gal. Particularly if your château was the location of the (not very) secret romance between Camille Claudel and Rodin, as Château de l’Islette was – art, history AND romance, what more could you possibly want?
So, despite the lack of a handsome prince falling in love with me, or any cute forest animals joining me in song and helping with my chores, this day was pretty much perfect. Although, it’s hard to have a bad time when you’re wearing a tutu and visiting magical castles – if only all my days could be spent this way.