Thursday, August 26, 2004


We decided to take the audio tour at Chenonceau. This was one of two places I got to choose on this trip (the other being Mont St. Michel), and I wasn't inclined to be frugal now. So we got tickets for an audio tour -- the kind where they give you an electronic box and headphones and you proceed from station to station at your own pace.

But these weren't just any electronic boxes. The tickets we bought got us an audio tour thru Chenonceau with iPods. iPods, I tell you. They gave us three iPods, and we hung them around our necks and listened as a man with a French accent told us the history of the place.

With renaissance music playing in stereo in the background, he told us about the round tower outside that was the only remnant of the early castle. And he told us of the women who oversaw the building of the chateau over the years and the making of the gardens. He took us down into the kitchens and showed us where the supplies were loaded up from the boats on the Cher river where it passed under the white stone arches that held up the galleries above. And he took us thru the tiled ballroom with daylight streaming in from the windows on both sides.

And in a room with green walls where Catherine de Médicis ruled France after the death of Henry II, I heard a harpsichord playing behind me. Surprised that a room that small could hold a harpsichord and surprised that I hadn't seen it when I walked in, I turned in the direction of the music.

The harpsichord player was joined by other musicians just as I turned to look. The sound filled the room. With the green walls of Catherine's study around me and the music filling my head, I was on the verge of tears. And when I turned and looked, there were no musicians there but instead some more tourists coming into the room -- no musicians, but the music was still playing. And it was then that I remembered that I had an iPod hanging around my neck.

I looked out the windows on the river flowing underneath. With the music fading and the narration for that room finished, I walked back into the hall and went to catch up with Trudy and Ben who had moved on to the next station.

Trip to France - Day 11
Chateau de Chenonceau

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