02 August 2010

Luynes looms over the valley

Last Friday CHM and I drove over to the west side of Tours, a good hour from Saint-Aignan, to see some sights over that way. I also planned a stop in Bourgueil to see Amy and Laurent for a minute, and to buy some good red and rosé wine in their village.

The first stop CHM and I made was in the little town of Luynes, just outside Tours on the north (or right) bank of the Loire. There's a château in Luynes that dates back to medieval times, and it sits on a high rock bluff above the town, with views out over the Loire river valley. Luynes is not nearly as well known as nearby castles like Langeais, Villandry, Ussé, and Azay-le-Rideau.

The château at Luynes sits high above the rooftops of the town.

Being less well known is definitely an advantage where tourists like CHM and I are concerned. We had the place to ourselves, basically. In contrast, we made a stop later in the day in front of the château d'Ussé, on the other bank of the Loire, and it was a zoo. Hundreds of cars were parked in a lot across the street, and crowds of people were trudging toward the entry to the so-called "Sleeping Beauty" castle with children in tow. It was hot and dusty, and the kids were cranky. It felt like Disneyland on a bad day.

The main place in the town of Luynes

Luynes, however, was quiet and peaceful. On the 11 o'clock guided tour, there were exactly two paying customers — not me and CHM, because we are not big on guided tours. We just walked around the park and the interior courtyard of the castle complex, leaving the tour of the interiors for another day. I'm sure Luynes is a place I will go back to, and probably soon.

The old château-fort is just slightly forbidding.

The defensive walls and ramparts of the château de Luynes date back as far as the 1100s. The place is pretty forbidding, seen from above and behind. Changes and new buildings over the centuries added windows and gardens, with magnificent views, making the place a pleasant place to live. Only three families have owned and lived in the château de Luynes in its 900-year history.

There are great views out over the town and the river valley.

When we arrived, a gardener out in the park was having a conversation with a youngish, pregnant woman about his work. The woman had two small children with her. She was wearing a dress, but was definitely not dressed up, made up, or fancily coiffed. She could have been anybody on the street of any little town in the Loire Valley.

Inside the walls, there's a comfortable-looking residence.

I couldn't hear much of what this young woman and the gardener were saying to each other. But at one point, I heard the gardener say something like, "Well, if that is what Monsieur le Duc wants me to do, then I'll do it right away." A few minutes later, I saw a big black Land Rover SUV pulling out of the château courtyard. I couldn't see who was driving it, but I wondered if it was the duke. And I wondered whether the pregnant woman was the Duke de Luynes' daughter or his wife.


  1. Looks like a wonderful place to have a day out. Diane

  2. How do you pronounce Luynes?

  3. Sheila, I'm glad you asked that, because I realized that I didn't know, either. I went to that great link for Acapela that Ken gave us a while back to hear it.

    I read a blurb on AOL news yesterday about a farm in New Hampshire, near the Maine border, that has been owned and run by the same family since the 1600s (I think it was 378 years), that is going up for sale because of the competition from grocery stores and farmer's markets these days. That seemed like SOOOO long in U.S. years -- nothing compared to 900 years of history at Luynes, though!


  4. Ah, you had a brush with aristocracy.

    Once when I visited Woburn Abbey (seat of Duke of Bedford), the ticket booth said it opened at 10 am. Around 10:30, some lady came walking up to the booth. I gave her a good talking-to about responsibility and punctuality. She just looked at me, opened the gate and walked toward the palace. It was the duchess I had lectured. The regular ticket person showed up a minute later. They still let me in.

  5. J'ai bien ri en lisant le commentaire de Diogenes et sa rencontre avec une duchesse! en France on dit: "l'exactitude est la politesse des rois"
    Merci pour les tres jolies photos d'une region qui m'est inconnue, alors que je suis francaise.

  6. Isn't Luynes pronounced like "lui" "ne" that is if you know how to pronounced "lui" as in "huit". It is a lovely chateau.
    (The problem with July and August are all the tourists).

  7. Sheila and Judy, somewhere in France there's a river called "l'Huisne" pronounced the same way as Luynes. I'm sure that's very helpful. LOL. Ken will let us know phonetically!

  8. Judy will know about the pronunciation from what Nadège said: lui + n. Sheila, I hope that helps you too. That semi-vowel u is hard to explain in writing. It's not the -ou- of Louis, but the -u- of lui, puis, tuile, huître, etc. Luynes rhymes with ruines, if that helps.

    Yveline, connaissez-vous le Val de Loire et les châteaux un petit peu ?

  9. Haha....that's funny about Usse...."Disneyland on a bad day"...

  10. How nice it would be to be surrounded by beautiful chateaux. We leave tomorrow for three months in Europe. First to Germany, then to Spain and, finally, to Paris.

  11. CHM, you said the magic word: Huisne! I just realized that five weeks from today we'll be going through St Maurice sur Huisne and Mauves sur Huisne on our way to our first very good lunch in France. (I wouldn't claim to be able to pronounce l'Huisne correctly, but I can speak menu, so lunch is never a problem.)

    If you don't know le Perche, I encourage you (as we've encouraged Ken and Walt) to visit.

    Ken and Walt, we still hope to spend time there next year and hope you could visit us then.

  12. Carolyn, I went through "le Perche" years ago to visit the most beautiful cathedral at Le Mans. More recently, Ken and I went through the southern part of le Perche a few years ago, but I can't say I am very familiar with this old province. May be some day...


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