Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom of peace. – Eugene O’Neill
A stroll through the beautiful city of Chinon, and the fairytale of living in France returned and ignited my esprit. Each afternoon ramble through the narrow medieval streets of this picturesque village with its swags of roses draped over gates and doorways, its quaint shop fronts and cobbled streets and I was once again enchanted. I forgot the daily grind of life, the drab, rainy summer we’ve had, the cold, rainy winter we are having, the move and the imminent opening of the hotel – our hotel – and here I was, once again, in the beautiful, romantic France of every American girl’s dream.
But the almost-daily downpour, a rainy morning through mid afternoon, the nervousness of having to be ready for Day 1 tomorrow doesn’t dampen our enthusiasm once we saw, from our first visit here, how stunning and how well preserved Chinon is. The city of Chinon is nestled in the Loire Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Center, along the banks of the peaceful Vienne River. We wend our way to the center and are carried swiftly upward to the narrow road towards the Château, the Royal Fortress, a World Heritage Site, perched atop the town. The Fort, newly restored, was a favorite residence of Henry II, Henry Plantagenêt, Count of Anjou, crowned King of England in 1154, as well as where Joan of Arc met Charles VII for the first time; from the promontory we can admire the spread of the city below, the black before turning back to stare out at the sea of black slate rooftops and the tranquil Vienne River of which we are now given a bird’s eye view.
Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale. – Hans Christian Andersen
We love our new city. It is small, cozy and convivial, hauntingly, enchantingly historic, ancient yet so beautifully preserved. The wine of Chinon seems to spill over and into the streets, vineyards huddle up and hug the city which itself is filled with tasting rooms and cellars, some housed in the troglodyte caves dug into the cliff faces overhanging the city. Nights are calm, quiet, even as we live just off of the city center, the surrounding area is filled with beautiful walks, stunning villages, astonishing churches and the world’s most beautiful châteaux and gardens. What is not to love about living in Chinon?
It has taken me close to thirty years to get here, through the madness of Paris, the sadness of the suburbs, the beautiful anonymity of Nantes and now it is like we are home.