Chantemerle / Fourchette / Amboise: Our Gite for Week 1

The beautiful cottage of Chantemerle is tucked away on a sunny hilltop in one of the loveliest spots in the Loire Valley. At the end of a steep driveway through the woods, the road opens up onto several homes, but the gate straight ahead is Chantemerle. As you drive up past a mini-vineyard and several rustic outbuildings, you can see the vine-covered cottage, and immediately feel like you're in a fairy tale.

Around the left side of the house is a flagstone patio, with a riot of flowers and plants in containers and beds. Here we saw our first lavender plants growing in France, and the kids liked watering the flowers with the giant can by the spigot.

On the other side is an enormous old tree, making a shady spot for outdoor play, reading, or watching the neighboring sheep in their pasture.

Inside the fairy tale feeling continues, with exposed beams and quirky little details throughout.

There's Dan standing beside the barn on his way out for a bike ride to Tours.

Here's a shot of the house and patio:

The house, while quaint, is also huge. There were two master suites -- one upstairs and one downstairs. Both had modern plumbing including a Japanese rain shower and other really lovely fixtures. The third and fourth bedrooms had two small beds each, and there was also a loft area upstairs with more beds. We could have cheerfully slept ten people in the house, without ever crossing paths really -- the layout was very spread out.

The kitchen was large with a big table for eating, and there was a games room with a pool table too. Appliances were functional, although it took us some effort to figure out the French instructions on the washing machine and dish washer, and the stove pilot was troublesome. We ended up being able to light it by dropping a match down a hole, as our hosts instructed us, but there was a fair amount of crawling around in front of it and burning our fingertips with a lighter before this revelation came home to us. This was our first week in France, and I will say that interpreting the writing on appliances did get easier over our month's journey. However, if you're a French company manufacturing a washing machine, maybe you could choose four completely different colors to indicate the positions on the dial, instead of four strikingly similar variations of pumpkin.

The children loved playing in the yard. There were lots of different areas, divided by trees, different plantings, and the driveway and buildings. There were badminton rackets and other outside toys available, and also just lots of room to run around and play.

We appreciated the detailed orientation folder left by the owners, with recommendations for local shops and places to eat. We used both the Intermarche (closed at 7:30) and the MarchePlus in Amboise (open until 9:30) and while we were not finely tuned into different bread and cheese varieties at this point, we found plenty to eat.

At the bottom of the hill, the village of Fourchette is small and quiet, and something we didn't realize at first was that it continues on the other side of the main road. We found, there, a pharmacie that was actually open when we needed it. The ones in Amboise seemed perpetually closed. The area between Fourchette and Amboise, including the nearby Poce-sur-Cisse (the Cisse is a small river, and "sur" means "on", so this means the town is on the river) is very pretty, with wheat fields waving. Hey, if it's good enough for Mick Jagger, it must be pretty good, right?

We recommend Chantemerle for anyone wanting to explore the Touraine region and the Loire valley, whether on a bicycle or by car. The house is big, comfortable, and beautiful. The area is full of interesting things to see and do, and the owners are very friendly and accommodating. A great gite!

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