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Loire Valley

Chateau de Chenonceau looks different from all the others. A castle that spans the width of the River Cher, it became a must-see for me after learning that it belonged to the mistress of King Henri, Diane de Portier. I was a fan of the TV show, Reign, which was part non-fiction, based on the royal family of King Henri in the 1500’s. His favorite mistress (and he had many), Diane de Portier, has been a source of intrigue for many because she was both married to another man and twenty years the king's senior. Though many years older, she looked amazingly youthful, thanks to her regimen of mercury and swimming in the cold River Cher. After Henri’s death, his queen, Catherine de Medici, took back this much coveted property from Diane, calling it her own, and was eventually passed down to her son's dowager queen to spend her mourning years in.

Brittany (Walled Cities and Ancient Rock Alignments) and Mont Saint Michel

Dinan, my favorite of the three walled cities we visited in Bretagne, is a walled city that people actually live in.  It's city walls date back to the 13th century and has survived many attacks since then. Many of its half-timbered homes also date back to the 13th and 14th centuries. Dinan also has a fortified chateau. More on all that Dinan has to offer in the website at the end of this section.

Giverny (Monet's home and garden), France

After Dijon, we drove 4 hours to Giverny, to a house where a Monsieur Claude Monet spent a few decades of his life living.  Mr. Monet lived his life in a somewhat rural town with a beautiful lily pond across the street. We had lunch on a bench where his wife and (step) daughters sat to knit, walked into the tunnel to cross under the (now busy) country road to visit the now famous lily pond, and enjoyed a quick (and crowded) tour of his house.  The garden was beautiful, with lavender and many other colorful flowers.

Paris, France

Paris began as a fortified Celtic (also known as Gallic) settlement on the Ile de la Cite in the 3rd century BC.  It was called Parisii, after the name of the Celtic tribe known as the Parisii. In 52 BC, the Romans conquered it to build a city called Lutetia, which had a population of less than 10,000 people.  The Lutecians left an arena and Roman baths for us to visit today.  Paris' name today was adopted in the 5th century AD, after the first Celtic peoples who lived there, the Parisii.

Gorge du Tarn and Viaduc de Millau

Gorge du Tarn

Our plan was to walk from the small town of St Eminie to St Chely du Tarn along the Gorge du Tarn. It took us awhile to find the trailhead, then followed the wrong trail which led us up the mountain to a non-descript logging road. But we did see the sign for a Sentiere (trail) to go to St Chely du Tarn from St Eminie. Coming from the East on bis D907, it was after the bridge that crosses the River Tarn in town (where the shops are), to the left after a small square (I mean small, a bench and a tree beside large recycling bins). It was going up a small paved road between houses, with a sign readable only when you're coming from the opposite direction. There was parking just before the sign after the bridge. Tired and hot, having gone on a 5 mile trail up a mountain which ended at an unremarkable logging road, we didn't check out the accuracy of St Eminie to St Chely sign, which indicated a distance of 4.5 km one way. Another sign indicated Castelbouc in the opposite direction in 6km.