Lighthouses of Brittany-Ile d’Ouessant
Le Phare de Créac’h on the Island of Ouessant (Ushant in English) off the coast of Brest on the westernmost tip of France, is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. For about 50 of those years, Europe’s most powerful lighthouse has been lulling – you might say ‘flashing’ – me to sleep with its two white beams every ten seconds through my bedroom window in our family’s vacation cottage just across the bay.
In Normandy’s colorful, New England-like autumn, apple aromas fill the air as apples are harvested to make that potent spirit that fortifies on a frosty winter evening.
Unlike Cognac, that is exported in impressive quantities around the world, Calvados is produced in much smaller quantities and with the exception of some of the top producers, is consumed locally. My destination on this post-harvest October day was one of those high-end producers,The Christian Drouin Calvados Estate, in Coudray-Rabut.
Chateau de Cheverny
In the family for six centuries the Chateau de Cheverny was first opened to the public in 1922. Today, Marquis de Vibraye and his family live in the chateau and employ American marketing strategies and attitudes to draw over 350,000 visitors annually. So, first of all don’t try to cram this visit into a day of chateauing-there is far too much to see.
You will pass through the gift shop, filled with the usual souvenir tchotchkas and local products. And since the chateau was the inspiration for Marlinspike Hall in the Tintin cartoons you will find a wide assortment of objects selected from the adjacent, permanent Tintin exhibition.
Chateau de Chambord-Loire Valley
Commissioned by François I in 1519, Chambord is the magnificent Renaissance centerpiece of the largest enclosed park in Europe. He actively supervised its construction until his death in 1547. The vision was continued by his son Henry II and finally completed during the reign of Louis XIV.
Traditionally, the Kings of France travelled constantly, both to keep in touch with their subjects but also to get in some hunting. Chambord was never a royal residence but during any visit by the king it was required to accommodate as many as 3,000 members of his retinue.
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