A Return to Europe . . . Sometime.

Preliminary details for a return visit to Europe are slowly taking shape and include the French town of Azay-le-Rideau. It’s not very big town—the population is about 3500—not quite a three-hour drive southwest of Paris. I’ve been there twice before and am planning to go again. Why? It’s the chateau!

I really don’t know why this castle has such an appeal for me. It may be the reflective lake, with water from the Indre River that was diverted for that purpose. Or that it’s a rather small structure compared to many of the other chateaux in that general area. It was built in the early 1500s by Giles Berthelot, who was a kind of financial advisor to King Francis I.  After it was completed, Berthelot lived in the chateau for a decade or so until the king happened to be passing through the area and stopped by.  Apparently the king said something to the effect of “You couldn’t afford to build a place like this unless you’ve been stealing from me.” Berthelot immediately left town, which tells us the king was probably right.

I’m also including the Orient Express, now operated by the Belmond company. It’s not the original Orient Express—in fact, it not even the original route, which was Paris to Istanbul. While the Belmond train offers a variety of destinations and routings, I’ve tentatively decided on  London to Venice. The main thing most in common with the original train? It’s one of the really luxurious trains operating and it matters not who owns the name, this train has been on my “to-do” list for probably 25 years.

The huge unknown factor is, of course, this damn coronavirus. Somehow the image of entering the posh dining car on the Orient Express wearing a surgical mask really doesn’t work.