Whitehill Farm Loire Valley Chateau Tour 2017

Our flying trip along and around the Loire Valley

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Days 4 & 5

Day 4

Set off reasonably early for the flight from Saumur to Amboise, following the Loire with loads of detours to look at the chateaux that Mike &  Geoffrey had listed with a lot of slow &  low flying, but no pictures, well not on my phone, but loads on Jane’s – which I haven’t downloaded, arriving after almost 2 hours to cover probably less then twenty miles as the crow flies.

Geoffrey has set out our welcome at the airfield, so by the time we were checked into the hotel, I was more than a little peckish. Huh – the Ibis cheap was bloody hours walk into town (though mainly down hill) so hit the “Rue de Bars” which was in the shadow of the chateaux, trying to find Tim & Kareema – who had been there hours & hours, before settling down for the usual drinks & food, followed by a stroll along the river which developed into a stroll across the river, which as is mentioned elsewhere developed into a great evening of drinks beside the river with a view across to the chateaux (great cocktails with everyone  trying everyone elses). As the evening moved through dusk to moonlight the chateaux just kept changing, with the night & full moon coming up behind it , and its own changing light show.

Finally a taxi (twice) was summoned back to our luxury Ibis.

And so to bed.

Day 5

Another drag by foot down the hill to the town & a fond farewell to T&K as they were zooming off home.

So we hit the chateaux – splendido – highly recommend, you go & see it for yourself (or check it out in Google Earth). Followed by a light lunch (omelette, salad and frits was popular – washed down with pinache, the local equivelant of either a shandy or a lager top depending on the bar man).

Then UP the hill. past troglodyte dwellings in the cliff side to the house that Leonardo Da Vinci  spent his last few years, so museum & bits of him, then back to town, where a jolly hour was spent wandering the length and breadth looking for a suitable restaurant, only to end up back at the “Rue De Bars” (so we got to see all the town). After that nobody wanted to come with me to the cocktail heaven.

And so (via two more taxis) to bed.


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Chateau du Clos Luce, Amboise

As if going round Amboise’s Royal Chateau wasn’t enough,  after lunch we walked to Amboise’ “other” Chateau, Clos Luce.

Clos Luce is some 350 metres from the Royal Chateau and according to some tales was connected to the main Chateau via an underground passageway.    Clos Luce’ most famous resident was Leonardo Da Vinci who was invited there by the King of France, and spent the last 3 years of his life there.    Not surprisingly most of the Clos Luce tour is with a Da Vinci theme…

Leonardo Da Vinci’s bedroom,  but as the guidebook explained these are pieces of furniture from that period, not the originals:

The painting on the wall shows Leonardo dying in the arms of the French King.  There is some debate as to the historical accuracy of this, but nevertheless it still inspires lots of such paintings.

Downstairs in the basement of the Chateau are several rooms of recreations of his inventions.  He really was a prolific inventor with many ideas for machinery, war apparatus (first tank, machine gun, siege machine), lock gates, swing bridge, as well as his more well known parachute and helicopter sketches.

And outside another room contained more smaller scale models of his inventions

His “flying wings” apparatus didn’t look quite so viable to us visiting pilots:

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Chateau de Amboise Royal

Tim and Kareema said their goodbyes and the rest of us went out in the glorious sunshine to walk round Amboise’s Royal Chateau.

The Chateau really is magnificent, dating back to 15th Century, with the bulk of it being built in the 17th Century.   Apparently up to 10,000 travelled as part of the Royal Court and stayed at Amboise Chateau in its heyday.  About 2/3rds of the Chateau was torn down after the French Revolution so it must have been truly massive.

Leonardo Da Vinci died in Amboise and what are believed to be his remains are buried in the Chateau Chapel.  Its not entirely sure whether it is Leonardo or not as the Church he was buried in was torn down and the bones excavated some 60 years after his burial.

The Royal Court and Appartments are still intact

Looking out over the Chateau walls

Some of our group fell for the tourist photo opportunity

And for an appropriately royal arrival, these extra-wide towers enabled the king and his party to be pulled by horses in their coach from the street right up to the Chateau level. 

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Cocktail time opposite Amboise Chateau

Went for a walk after our meal in Amboise, wandering round the old town and across the bridge to see the Chateau from a different angle

On the oppostite side of the Loire we found a bar serving cocktails.   Well, we just had to …

Mike seemed to have ended up with a goldfish bowl full of juice.

As the sun slipped down and the moon rose behind the Chateau we watched the changing lights playing on the chateau walls and took some lovely photos of the reflections on the Loire:

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Our daily exercise, dragging the airplanes round a field

At Amboise I was the second to land as Tim and Kareema had already landed, parked up their Cirrus and gone into town in a taxi.

I parked behind them on the grass and Mike and Marleen and Tom and Jane did likewise.   We all tied our planes down and went to the clubhouse to book in and pay for the landing.

I should point out that we were pretty much the only planes parked on the grass.  Tim was on the hard paving and there was a glider behind us, but there was no other planes around.

Got to the clubhouse and “Madam” from behind the bar then saw where we were parked (after we’d spent 15 minutes tying our planes down) and told us we’d have to move because of a helicopter that was due to land on the paved area.

And so we all trouped out, untied the planes, pushed them back a distance, and tied them all down again.

Just as we were finishing tying down Madam came out of the clubhouse and we could hear her berating one of the men that we had spoken to,  and he came over and apologetically asked us to move further back.

So we moved further back,  and then even further back again on the grass before he was happy that we wouldn’t cause a risk to the helicopter.

Don’t know whether it was a Chinnook that they had due in but it felt like we were parking in the next town.   Needless to say it wasn’t much fun repeatedly dragging the airplanes around and tying them down.

And as if that wasn’t enough we then had to wait for an hour before a taxi could come to take us to the hotel and “Madam” wouldn’t serve us any food as we hadn’t pre-organised it.  Beers were good that night down the town though.

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Next flying leg, Saumur to Amboise

After 2 nights in Saumur we packed up and left the hotel to fly onto our next destination which was Amboise further up the Loire Valley.

Amboise is perhaps only 40 miles from Saumur but we had all planned various Chateau-spotting routes so weren’t flying direct.

Here’s the photos of the Chateau I flew over…

Chateau de Montreuil-Bellay, South-West of Saumur:

Fontevraud Abbey, right next to a massive military no-fly zone, East of Saumur:

Just North of Fontevraud on the banks of the Loire, Chateau de Montsoreau:

Flying East the Vienne feeds into the Loire.  Upstream and on the banks of the Vienne was another of the great Royal Chateau, Chinon:

I then turned North back to re-join the Loire for the next, Chateau d’Usse:

Skirting round the side of Tours’ controlled airspace I flew North up to Chateau de Langeais:

If truth be told I now took a wrong turn.  As I said earlier I was flying outside of Tours’ controlled air space and there was a chateau I wanted to see further upstream on the Loire that was inside of the controlled air space.  So I thought nothing to lose, and I called up the Tours Air Traffic Controller on the radio and asked permission to enter their space flying along the Loire.

Surprisingly they gave me permission to fly along the Loire to Amboise, at 1200′,  which routed me straight over the top of Tours and past their airport.

First though the Chateau I’d wanted to see, arguably the most impressive formal gardens so far, Chateau de Villandry:

And so having got the permission to overfly Tours, I thought I might as well make use of it and continued East along the Loire.

There are literally Chateau everywhere, this one at Luynes wasn’t on my list:

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to take any pictures of the mighty Cathedral at Tours as I flew over it.  A combination of being too busy flying and my phone got itself stuck into slow-motion mode so I ended up with time-lapse shots of me frantically trying to change the settings back.  All this whilst flying one-handed over a large city.

It did occur to me that if anything happened I’d be in the river Loire.   Afterwards the group agreed that they would ask Tom Hanks if he’d play the part of me for the film version of “ULM in the Loire”.

So some photos instead of the approach into and through Tours:

In the top left of the last photo you can see Tours airport and as I flew past the end of the runway (still at 1200 feet) a Mirage jet took off behind me.  Although I had got ATC permission to be there, it did slightly spook me, but fortunately it just shot off into the distance.
Now to the East of Tours, another Chateau, at Rochecorbon:

And then our destination town, Amboise.  Amboise was another home of the Royal Court and the Cheateau towers over the Loire on a rocky outcrop:

Flying back from Amboise to the airport (which is a little way outside the town to the South), came across this Chinese inspired folly, the Pagode de Chanteloup, all that remains of the grounds of the Chateau de Chanteloup:

Landed at Amboise-Dierre Aeroport after 110 miles of flying and a few minutes later the others arrived.

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And then there were 7

Thursday morning our final pair of intrepid aviators set off from the UK, Tim and Kareema in their Cirrus hot ship.

They made the journey from Cambridge straight through to Angers in the Loire Valley in a single hop, taking just a couple of hours for the journey that took me most of a day 😦

Then onto Saumur and we all met up for dinner in the evening.   Lovely to all be together at last.