“Un Mariage Royal – 1491” – by Debbie Ambrous

Chateau Langeais and Gardens - Langeais, France

Chateau Langeais and Gardens – Langeais, France

I can’t believe it has been almost a year since we were in France in the Loire valley, eating croissants, baguettes and pastries every morning and finding pretty hamlets and villages to explore each day. We decided we wouldn’t travel to France in April and May this year in favor of watching our own flowers burst into bloom in Alabama. It’s a tough time to leave someone else to mow the grass and tend the plants. We have in mind an autumn trip. Planning is my job. I have peeked into house rental information and travel websites for the Provence, the Rhone Alps and Normandy. Options of budget Ryanair flights to Ireland, Portugal and Norway are possibilities from France or Belgium. I look at all of the travel information to other areas and then I remember how good France has been to me. No final decisions are made yet. What should I do?

If you lived in the Chateau Langeais, this would be your view from the front porch swing.

If you lived in the Chateau Langeais, this would be your view from the front porch swing.

April, 2014 – Langeais, France – Hop on a plane to Paris. Take a train from the airport to Tours. The exact stop is St. Pierre des Corps. It was all very easy, peasey. An Avis car rental place is just outside the station. Then, it was very simple to drive around and get lost a couple of times before we found the right direction. Our destination was Brehemont for our cute rental cottage. Just across the Loire River was the beautiful village of Langeais, brimming over with character, history and one spectacular chateau!

IMG_1131I window-shopped along the cobblestone street looking at trendy outfits, modern eyeglasses (French people wear the coolest glasses!) and bridal outfits for French weddings. Then, I saw a bright banner on Chateau Langeais celebrating the royal marriage that took place in December 6, 1491. Anne of Brittany married Charles VIII before a small audience in the Chateau Langeais. Anne of Brittany agreed to marry the new sovereign if her husband died before she produced a male heir. Her children died, either at birth, or during childhood. Charles VIII died seven years after the wedding in 1498. That is so sad. Are you in tears yet? Anne of Brittany married the cousin of her deceased husband, and the new sovereign reigned as Louis XII. The book “A French Opportunity has more history and memoirs of the chateau.

Jim and I paid the entry fee to the chateau. I drifted to the gardens and further up the hill to view the beautiful bridge and river below.IMG_1086 Jim was a kid again, dreaming of his old tree houses in the woods behind his childhood home, which is our present house. But there at the chateau was a tree house worthy of royalty, or even Prince Jim! IMG_1083After all of the exploring and stretching our legs and minds on memory lane, we were hungry! We left the grounds in search of food. Normally, boulangeries are not open during lunch, but we found one around the corner doing a brisk trade with a line at the door. We bought a delicious meal and found a place with benches by the water in the shade. Two French families joined us, parking their bicycles and opening their picnic lunches. One of the adults rushed to the boulangerie for pastries, and I kept my longing glances at the goodies that he brought in a pretty pink box under control, almost. The children played with toys and jumped from the embankment to the benches, especially when they realized they had an audience for their tricks. I asked for permission to take pictures because the children were very cute.IMG_1105The stream was dotted with lily pads and it flowed under a beautiful stone bridge. Perhaps it was there when Anne of Brittany arrived for the wedding. If not, it is there for the modern bride wearing the pretty gown purchased around the corner past the Salon de The.

Enough eating and dreaming… We went to use those tickets, already bought and ready for our own royal entry. We went from one massive room to another seeing the tapestries, large enough to almost cover the front of my small Alabama cottage. Everything was familiar since this was not our first visit to the chateau, but a great presentation of the wedding of Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany was a pleasant surprise.IMG_1169IMG_1156 Figurines were dressed regally to represent the clothing worn during that time period and a slide show of the historic wedding with enormous pictures was presented on the wall above the figurines. IMG_1168The turret walk high above the village has lovely views, but wire mesh covers the open areas to prevent tourists from falling out and spoiling their expensive vacation.  Photos are a bit odd with the wire grids.  I tried a trick I had read about and almost erased the lines in a few of my pictures.IMG_1197IMG_1205 Photography of the wedding presentation was difficult since no flash was allowed and we were in darkness most of the time. I was not an unruly guest of the wedding. Perhaps another invitation will arrive by royal post. The question now is whether the event will occur in Provence, the Rhone Alps, Normandy, Norway, Ireland or Portugal. I need to quit dithering and make up my mind. Any suggestions?

I must apologize for not following my laid-out plan and schedule of a bi-weekly post of the blog. My job that pays for croissants in France occasionally and buttered biscuits in Alabama has kept me away from the fun of writing. Recently, I’ve been in a royal battle with computer programs that were fickle and non-functioning. Computers are miracle machines when they work! They are downright finicky if all of their connections, buttons and sweet spots are not satisfied. Now, you are likely thinking, if not saying: “Sure sounds like computers are female!” Nope! You are wrong. I’ve seen the backside of these computers, and they are not women! Samsung, Dell and Apple may not know this, but from my viewpoint, computers are the MALE of the species!

Let me quickly retract some of my computer nonsense before I get into trouble with the menfolk, especially the one that is married to me.  Jim, the husband and computer repair person that I call most often, understands the inner workings and backside of my computer.  I call Chris, a nice young man in a nearby town to help me with my website.  Santiago is the very knowledgeable fellow who controls the computer world that I live in for my daytime job.  Compliments, hugs, thanks and chocolate cookies to all of these MEN for pulling me out of many jams!  I’m laying it on thick because I want you there for the next time.

That is my valuable input for the week. I may see you next week, or it could be earlier, or later.  I hope everything is fine for you.  Please come again.  You are welcome to enter your e-mail for a free subscription notification.  Just look in the upper corner.  If you don’t get your notice, don’t blame me.  Blame the male computer!

Happy Anniversary to my lovely daughter Jessica and her sweet husband Mark! 

“Fractured Fairy Tales” – by Debbie Ambrous

CHATEAU VILLANDRY - Follow the Fractured Fairy Tale and then read the romantic story of the Spaniard and American who restored the magnificent chateau and gardens.

CHATEAU VILLANDRY – Follow the Fractured Fairy Tale and then read the romantic story of the Spaniard and the American, the restorers of the magnificent chateau and gardens.

A beautiful princess and a dashing prince marry with a lavish ceremony followed by a honeymoon in an exotic locale, then return to live happily in the castle of dreams. We are skeptical of this scenario from the first words spoken. Beautiful princess! How much of her beauty came from the cosmetic surgeon’s office? How long will they live happily until the divorce? Yes, we grew up and learned the truth long before reality television reached popularity.

Back in the early seventies when my two older children were little, they watched Fractured Fairy Tales on television. The cartoon show featured the typical fairy tales, such as Cinderella or Pinocchio, told in a totally wacky style with puns that only the parents would understand. The creators evidently knew that mothers were nearby scrubbing toilets, or sorting the weebles from the wobbles in the toy chest of a mother’s life. Why shouldn’t she have some laughs since she had to endure the cartoon re-runs, sort out the squabbles between the children and clean up the cookie crumbs thereafter?

I thought that my life could be cast in a Fractured Fairy Tale much easier than the sumptuous life in Chateau Villandry. Then again, I don’t have to take in paying visitors to tramp around my house and garden to pay the electric bill and taxes. Perhaps I am exaggerating about the Chateau Villandry’s circumstances since I do not know the bottom-line of their finances. However, the owners of many stately castles and manor homes do require this income from visitors and rentals to cover their expenses. Life behind those magnificent doors is often not cracked up to be as imagined by the mere peasants of common life.

It is neither wealth nor splendor; but tranquility and occupation that give happiness.” – Thomas Jefferson

Jim and I began our fractured fairy tale of tranquility and occupation in a 528 square ft. (49 sq. meters) new mobile home which we owned and located on a wooded lot in the countryside in Alabama. I planted azaleas, roses, dogwood trees and flowers from Granny Bryan’s flower beds. We had a beautiful rusty-colored Irish setter that roamed through the woods with us behind our new home. Inside, everything was new and cozy with Early American furniture reproductions, white ruffled curtains at the kitchen windows, braided rug on the floor, imitation brick flooring and green appliances. No, I am not referring to eco-green, energy saving appliances. The range, sink, refrigerator, washing machine and the bathtub were green. Do you remember those times? We had art on the wall like any respectable chateau fit for a princess in a fractured fairy tale. A woodsy scene with mountains, waterfalls and streams was laminated to cardboard and stapled into a wood frame. Positioned above the Early American style, over-stuffed sofa the faux painting was inspiration for tranquility, if not splendor.

Joachim Carvallo and his wife, Ann Coleman, were passionate collectors of old paintings.  "I enjoyed the paintings.  The lady on the left could star in a Fractured Fairy Tale with that hairstyle!"

I enjoyed the painting collection. The lady on the left could star in a Fractured Fairy Tale with that hairstyle!”

The ceiling comes from the Maqueda ducal palace, built in the 15th century in Toledo, Spain.  The palace was dismantled in 1905 and Joachim Carvallo brought one of the ceilings back to Villandry.

The ceiling comes from the Maqueda ducal palace, built in the 15th century in Toledo, Spain. The palace was dismantled in 1905 and Joachim Carvallo brought one of the ceilings back to Villandry.

Napoleon's youngest brother was the owner of Villandry for several years during the Empire period.  This room's furniture and design, therefore, is in the Empire style: mahogany furnture and red watered silks.

Napoleon’s youngest brother was the owner of Villandry for several years during the Empire period. This room’s furniture and design, therefore, is in the Empire style: mahogany furniture and red watered silks.

The mobile home would fit in the foyer of the Chateau Villandry with room left to form a small trailer park. My trailer flower garden would be laughable in comparison, but it was my own version of the “Love Garden” found at Villandry. Happiness grew, and I learned how to nurture my plants along with my marriage. From the narrow viewpoint of some people we may have appeared as trailer park trash. I have no problem with poking fun at myself. At the same time, I will hold my head up and say that we were honest, hard-working young people starting a life together modestly. Jim was a part-time college student working an auto parts counter at a GM dealership, and I worked full-time at an insurance agency.

If you own a home with wheels and several cars without, you might be a redneck!” – Jeff Foxworthy

We had great fun with our friends on camping trips and doing simple stuff. Thinking back, some of it was little more than a continuation of some of the same fun from our childhood, such as playing cards and watching the guys play Saturday afternoon football.

The Marquis de Castellance redesigned this room in the 18th-century style: Louis XV paneling replaced the old tapestries, while parquet replaced the marble flooring.  The salmon pink walls and fountain hint at the Provencal origins of the Marquis.  In 1934, this room was listed as a historic monument.

The Marquis de Castellance redesigned this room in the 18th-century style: Louis XV paneling replaced the old tapestries, while parquet replaced the marble flooring. The salmon pink walls and fountain hint at the Provencal origins of the Marquis. In 1934, this room was listed as a historic monument.

Notice the upside-down fork.  By turning the fork in this position the displayed family crest would show the family's social status.

Notice the upside-down fork. By turning the fork in this position the displayed family crest would show the family’s social status.

The rich, sweet smell of the hayricks rose to his chamber window; the hundred perfumes of the little flower-garden beneath scented the air around; the deep-green meadows shone in the morning dew that glistened on every leaf as it trembled in the gentle air: and the birds sang as if every sparkling drop were a fountain of inspiration to them. ~ The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

“The rich, sweet smell of the hayricks rose to his chamber window; the hundred perfumes of the little flower-garden beneath scented the air around; the deep-green meadows shone in the morning dew that glistened on every leaf as it trembled in the gentle air: and the birds sang as if every sparkling drop were a fountain of inspiration to them.” ~ “The Pickwick Papers” by Charles Dickens

The size of our accommodation didn’t hold us back from entertaining. Don’t envision any Martha Stewart decorations and dining. I’m going to tell on myself and let you know my true colors with redneck running rampant. Jim and I invited our friends over for a pizza party at our mobile home. See, already we were cooking up foreign Italian dishes with no grits or gravy involved. I was the cook with boxes of Chef Boyardee pizza mix in the kitchen and Jim in control of the entertainment. Can you imagine mixing up the ingredients and shoving the pizzas in the oven to feed a crowd? I thought nothing of it, and I declare that Jim must have put a sign outside saying “Ya’ll come on in, FREE food and entertainment here!”, or he was down at the 7-11 inviting all the customers to drive south to the green and white mobile home on the right. The Statler Brothers were singing good old country music while pepperoni-topped pizza was popping out of the oven in shifts. A dozen, or more, people were standing inside talking and laughing when we heard a loud BANG!! at the backside of the trailer. We had clearly exceeded our load limit, and one of the concrete blocks that leveled our mobile home had shattered from the weight of our multiple guests.

If your wife weighs more than your refrigerator, then you might be a redneck.” – Jeff Foxworthy

I probably weighed less than 110 pounds at the time, so it wasn’t me!! Honest. Now, who can say they had a party that brought the house down like this one? I’m sure that Chateau Villandry never threw a shindig like ours. A fractured fairytale, indeed!

Photo displayed in the drawing room.

Photo displayed in the drawing room.

Chateau Villandry’s love tale is a splendid one. A young doctor from Spain, Joachim Carvallo, came to France in 1893. Doctor Carvallo studied with a medical research group in Paris, and there he met the American intern, Ann Coleman. Ms. Coleman was the daughter of a master blacksmith in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. They were married in Paris, and three children were born there. Then, some seven years later they sunk all of their savings to restore their dream home: Chateau Villandry and the gardens. They transformed the romantic park to the stunningly beautiful gardens we see today. Now that is a love story to inspire and endear any romantic soul. Not a fractured story at all!

Fractured Fairy Tales are lived and told in every land and every language. I hope I didn’t ruffle any feathers, or rattle any armor, with my silly story while featuring the beautiful chateau on the page. You will find serious and interesting facts by CLICKING here for the website and CLICK here for the book A French Opportunity which includes more history of the chateau.
Praise for Fractured Fairy Tales (CLICK to check it out) may entice you to read the book.  I should hire them to promote my book!
It’s a great book, no lie. – Pinocchio
I couldn’t lay it down – The Golden Goose
These stories really cook. – Hansel & Gretel
Ribbit! – The Frog Prince

Ya’ll come back for more adventures, out of the ordinary and slightly cracked!  Thank you visiting and sharing the link with friends.