Last Sunday we took a long drive in the countryside around our village. For the first phase of the opening up here in France, we are permitted to travel 100km, as the crow flies, from home. We packed up a lunch and chose a direction, which happened to be south, and just started driving down little roads that are innumerable in our corner of the world. The day was perfect, the sky deep blue, the temperature warm but not hot and the roads sparsely populated. We had a vague idea of finding a trail and taking a walk, but the main object was just to see the world beyond town. I had not sat in our car since February. It all seemed very daring.
The first thing I noticed was how fecund the world is at the moment. How many shades of green are there? From the intense yellow green of the newly sprouted corn fields, to the deep forest green of the oak trees, I couldn’t begin to count. I have never had allergies, but my eyes began to water as we made our way along. It was as if the air was swirling with new life.
Just about the time we began to feel a bit hungry, we passed a sign for The Château de Courtanvaux. Although the castle itself was closed, the grounds were open and we headed down the forested drive to the parking lot. We had been here several times before but never fully explored the grounds. It made a perfect place for our picnic. We found a bench in the shade of some trees and enjoyed the serenity with a few other families who were also there.
The 168 acre grounds are open all year, free of charge, for walking and picnicking. There are forested hiking trails, formal and informal gardens and a lake with a path all the way around.
A pleasant water course leads from the château itself to the lake and beyond. The water tumbles down in steps.
In other times we have seen wedding parties taking photographs here. The grounds are very photogenic, as you can see. The bridge is a favorite spot for the bride, in her flowing white gown to pose with her new husband, dressed in black. I could picture them there.
The formal rose garden is on the castle level, which we didn’t visit this time. Instead we enjoyed the field of wild flowers and native grasses.
We took a nice long walk all through the grounds of Courtanvaux before traveling on.
A few iconic sights greeted us as we zoomed past, including this two layered ghost sign on the side of a building and these incredible stupa-like structures built by an artist outside a town we pass through from time to time. We have never seen the artist at work, but each time, they multiply and change. They are located right on the roadside and visitors are welcome to stroll among them.
We were gone from home for less than five hours, and our walk was more a stroll than a hike. Even so, at the end of the day I was so exhausted that I could hardly keep upright. I suppose I was just a bit overstimulated!