Thursday, November 22, 2012

That other time we drove where no car should ever go.

chateau chambord, france, sunrise, dawn, mist

Look familiar? Chateau Chambord the inspiration for the castle in Disney's 1991 animated classic, The Beauty and the Beast.

Disney animator Glen Keane described his visit to the chateau:
"I mean I'll never forget the morning driving up there through the mist and fog and seeing it there. I thought this is the Beast's castle. This is where he lives."
Romantic, no?

chateau chambord, france, sunrise, dawn, mist

hotel du grand saint michel, chambord, france
hotel du grand saint-michel

hotel du grand saint michel, france
our hotel - hotel du grand saint-michel - was located practically on the chateau's lawn

chateau chambord, france, sunrise, dawn, mist

But we wouldn't be us if we didn't find a way to turn a perfectly romantic, misty morning into a funny road trip blunder.

The day before, while picnicing on the lawn of Chateau Chambord, we saw numerous trucks and cars using this road to get to our hotel. We knew (because we had taken it to arrive here) that the alternative route was a 15 minute detour around the castle grounds. So, logically, the next morning as we departed Chambord we took the seemingly shorter road.

The view from this road, which is perfectly aligned with castle, is breathtaking. 

But then.

chateau chambord, france, sunrise, dawn, mist

The road was blocked by these stakes. In hindsight, they look pretty easy to remove, and we should have done just that. But it was 6 am and I hadn't had a coffee and Mike had been driving for seven days straight. And we didn't want to backtrack. So we figured we could just drive our little rental car across a small patch of grass, over a tiny curb, and be on our merry way.

That's when we got stuck on the curb, the underside of our car making a sickening crunching sound, our wheels kicking up clumps of damp dirt and grass.

And then something happened that could only happen on a road trip. On this previously deserted road two cars suddenly appeared. Three Frenchmen got out of their cars - two grounds keepers, one local - and asked us why we were on the curb. In broken French, we explained we got lost on our way from the hotel (in other words, we played the stupid tourist card).

With solemn faces, they nodded (as though this was a reasonable answer) and walked to the back of our car. One big shove and we were back on the road where we belonged.

On a perfectly romantic, misty morning, we would get stuck on the lawn of a French chateau.

But there are worse places to be stuck, no?

- Jess


  1. This makes me laugh every time. Its one of those moments you will always look back on and smile I think. It would be a funny story to share with kids or grandchildren one day haha

    1. It is totally horrifying when those things happen, but always funny after!

  2. Love the image of you guys stuck on a curb. Perfect decision to play the stupid tourist card.

    Your pictures are stunning Jess. I visited Chambord back in college, in the middle of the day, when it was swarming with tourists. But you saw it as it should be seen!

    1. Thanks Jess! It's a great place, but definitely I think part of the magic was that it was deserted :)

  3. Ok, number one - this castle is absolutely beautiful! I must visit it at some point during my life :) Number two - this story has me doubled over in laughter! So so funny - at least in the end it all worked out :)


  4. I can't get over how stunning this castle is. Good for you for taking everything in stride.


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