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fronts) of perennial houses and a public car park. Perhaps the best times of the year to visit are during the spring, when the blossoms and jonquils perform their brief but beautiful annual display, and during the summer, when the hydrangeas cascade over the tiny bridges. It’s not unusual to see amateur painters with their easels and half-finished canvases on the path. The walk is not long, less than a kilometre and perfect for a Sunday stroll. When you cross the canal there is also a chance to explore the tannery building, which made Chevreuse its fortune for many centuries, now used as an exhibition hall. Close to the pretty stone bridge in the centre of the chemin you’ll find a wooden lavoir, or public wash house, long since abandoned. Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay Beautifully restored by the outrageously wealthy Rothschild family in the late 19th century, the buildings and extensive grounds of the Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay are the perfect setting for a peaceful wander on a sunny spring afternoon. Only the shell of the ancient abbey remains, but one can imagine coloured shards of sunlight streaming through the rounded rose window a thousand years ago. Now, the ravages of time and greenery have taken their toll. The abbey was long associated with the pious Saint Thibault, abbot of the monastery in 1235.
A famous legend rose up around the fountain in the abbey grounds; that after the infertile King Louis IX and his wife Marguerite of Provence were invited by St Thibault to drink the water at this miraculous fountain, they went on to have eleven children. The Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay is now run as a luxury hotel and function centre, although you can visit the ruins and the fountain and walk around the lake at your leisure (it’s free during the week). On Sundays there are guided tours of the grounds. If you’re looking for some fine French dining, take your seat amongst the vaulted arches in the restored priory which is now La Table du Prieur. Or indulge yourself on a Sunday, prior to your guided tour, with an extravagant Buffet déjeuner brunch in the former cloister building.
Chateau du Rivau The Chateau du Riv
Chateau de Chenonceau The white fa
Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau Standing
Royal Fortress of Chinon The royal
This time of the year in my little