You guys… the French countryside is gorgeous. Seriously, we couldn’t get enough of it. It has only been a month out of our nine month trip and we’re having the time of our lives! We wanted to post this earlier, but we’ve just been having too much fun!!! The last five days we’ve been in the French Riviera will be in our next post as this one is already pretty long.
After leaving Paris, we spent almost two weeks in the French countryside… first, we stayed in a teeny, tiny town called Genillé in the Loire Valley, and then in Bordeaux, the land of amazing wine. We took day trips to other cities, including one day in San Sebastian, Spain. Bordeaux is only 2.5 hours away, so we thought we might as well! Check out our pictures below!
This is Cody at a red light while trying to leave Paris… this was the first time driving in France and IT WAS CRAZY. Pedestrians were jumping out of nowhere and bikers were squeezing their way into tiny slots on the road. We are so lucky we didn’t hit anyone. He did great.
After leaving Paris, we headed to Genillé. We made a quick stop in Orléans for lunch. Orléans is the city that Joan of Arc saved from the English in the 1400s. It was gorgeous and the streets were so clean, but it was kind of weirdly quiet and empty.
The very old and beautiful gothic cathedral in Orléans (originally built in the 13th/14th century):
The Loire Valley is really a beautiful place… every single drive we took was gorgeous. These pictures barely do any justice for the area. It’s green everywhere and you can spot horses or sheep throughout any drive you take. We were super excited to see about 10 deer in less than a week. They would run through fields that were right on the side of the road. It was incredible!
Our super cute B&B in Genillé. It’s called La Cadoise and if you’re ever in the area, you should stay here. It surrounded by beautiful hilly farmland. We even had cows in our backyard.
Lola, the cutest B&B puppy:
One of the most popular things to do in the Loire Valley is to visit chateaux. If you like castles, travel to the Loire Valley. They are literally on every corner, although some are more famous than others.
Some of the chateaux we visited are breathtakingly beautiful and have a ridiculous amount of history. It felt surreal to stand in some of the rooms that famous kings and queens lived in!
Loches was the closest, next big city to Genillé, where we were staying. The city has a famous chateau and dungeon that was built in the 9th century that has been used for everything from a king’s mistress’ home to a state prison:
View from the Loches chateau:
The Loches dungeon:
Château de Chambord is one of the most famous chateaux. It is massive:
Château de Blois:
In Loches, they have a street market every Wednesday, where you can purchase fresh fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses, and, of course, baguettes and pastries. It seems like the thing to do here. They even had paella!
After a bit too many chateaux and food, we decided to go to the zoo! This was definitely more of a spontaneous decision, but the ZooParc de Beauval is one of the best zoos in the world because 1) it’s huge and 2) they have a very diverse range of animals… everything from snow leapords, white lions, white tigers, pandas, a crazy amount of birds (including a bird and sloth greenhouse you can walk through. We had to watch our step so we wouldn’t step on any!), and super cute baby zebras, rhinos, and giraffes.
The night before we left Genillé, we went to a small, romantic restaurant for dinner (by the way, there are only three restaurants in Genillé… it’s ultra tiny). The only two people working were the owners and they prepared a lovely, authentic French dinner for us. These were only the appetizers!
After five days in the Loire Valley, it was time for us to move on to the beautiful wine country of Bordeaux. Bordeaux is a gorgeous, bustling city with beautiful architecture and statues everywhere. And of course, incredible wine. We’ve noticed that good wine in Europe is a lot cheaper than wine in the U.S., so it’s been really, really hard to not have it every single day. The people are super welcoming and sweet. This place is magical.
One day, we went to La Cité du Vin, a wine museum in Bordeaux that teaches you everything you need to know about wine. It’s pretty interactive, so it’s like a big playhouse for adults.
The tasting room:
We also went wine tasting in Bordeaux and visited two wineries. It’s not like going to Napa where you can just drive up and have a tasting in a tasting room. To go wine tasting in Bordeaux, you have to call ahead and make a reservation or go on a tour with a company. Then, the owner will give you some history and a wine tour of the property and explain the methods they use to grow and make their wine. It’s pretty interesting and if you’re ever in Bordeaux, we highly recommend doing it!
One of the places we went wine tasting – Château Falfas:
Lastly, we took a day trip to San Sebastian, Spain with a stop in Biarritz, France. Biarritz is a major surf spot in the southwestern part of France. It’s also a very ritzy area – like the Beverly Hills of California. It was pretty cold when we went there and it’s a beach town, so we weren’t able to enjoy it as much as we probably would during the summer.
Biarritz to San Sebastian is only a 45 minute drive. We LOVED San Sebastian and did not want to leave. It was an interesting feeling being in another country for just one day and not having to go through any type of patrolled border crossing. We’re definitely looking forward to visiting Spain again next week!
In Basque Country (northern Spain), you can order pintxos, which are similar to tapas, but not. Actually, you won’t find the word ‘tapas’ on any menu in Basque Country. Basically, all of the cold pintxos are setup on the bar of the restuarant and you pick whichever ones look good to you. Then, if you want hot pinxtos, you order them from the server. It’s a super cool setup and good for people who want to try lots of different things!
We ate at a different restaurant, but this is what it looks like in almost every restaurant/bar:
During the summer, this place is supposedly packed with travelers. The famous Concha Beach in San Sebastian with a statue of Jesus on Monte Urgull:
The Basilica of Saint Mary of the Chorus:
We hope you enjoyed our post and look forward to hearing from you!
With lots of love,
Deena & Cody