Canoeing to a castle: An epic visit to France’s Château de Chenonceau

Château de Chenonceau

The Cher river

My paddle slipped through the glasslike water, creating ripples that broke up the otherwise flawless reflection of the shoreline. On this last day of summer, the grand trees lining the banks of the Cher river were just starting to turn to autumn colours, the result a kaleidoscope of hues framed by wispy white clouds dancing across a bright blue sky. Our foursome navigated the waterway in a pair of sleek canoes, embracing the silence of the crisp morning air, the only sound around us being little splashes as our oars dipped into the river, propelling us forward.

A traditional boat trip usually means ending up at an alpine lake, navigating waves or rapids, or perhaps paddling to a secluded beach. But our destination on this day was decidedly different, and something that one can only find in a place as special as France’s Loire Valley. We were heading straight towards a castle. And not just any castle—one built right over the water.

Cher river

Lifejackets at Canoe Company’s headquarters

Cher river

The Cher river

After setting off from the Canoe Company headquarters located near tiny Civray-de-Touraine, it was an easy paddle to Château de Chenonceau, which is one of the most visited castles in all of France. En route, we marvelled at the tranquility of our surroundings, spotted tiny kingfisher birds zipping just above the water’s surface and soaked up the sunshine. It wasn’t long before the castle came into view, the scene even more majestic than one could hope for.

Château de Chenonceau

Canoeing to Château de Chenonceau

Château de Chenonceau

Château de Chenonceau

From our low vantage point, we were able to appreciate the symmetry of the archways jutting out of the water, which are in fact the foundation of the Château de Chenonceau. The rest of the renaissance-inspired architecture rose up above, creating a picture-perfect scene much to the delight of visitors gathering on both sides of the riverbank, cameras at the ready. But instead of snapping away at the castle, many of them turned their lenses on us: after all, it’s not often that one sees a group of people gliding right under a castle!

Château de Chenonceau

Canoeing in front of Château de Chenonceau

Château de Chenonceau

Château de Chenonceau

It would have been easy to dock our canoes along the bank and hop out to explore the estate on foot, but we had another, more French plan in mind. After angling the bobbing boats to face the château, we sat back in our seats and grinned as we popped open a bottle of sweet rose—it was almost noon, after all. A bottle of white followed, accompanied by fresh baguettes and spreads made in the region, all enjoyed with a side of good conversation, an unbeatable view and a “pinch me, is this real life?!” moment.

Château de Chenonceau

Cheers!

Château de Chenonceau

A picnic on the Cher river

We lazily allowed the slow tide to drift us back through the archways, and after downing both bottles of wine (being sure to raise a glass to the envious crowds waving at us, natch) it was eventually time to bid au revior to Château de Chenonceau and head back down the river. Our time on the water may have only lasted a couple of hours, but the memories of that perfect, sun-soaked morning are sure to stay with us all forever.

Globe Guide explored Château de Chenonceau as part of the #FranceNature challenge, in collaboration with Atout France and Air France. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles.

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Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley is one of #France's most popular castles, and it turns out you can canoe right under it! Here's how.

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1 Response

  1. October 2, 2017

    […] Canoeing to a castle: An epic visit to France’s Château de Chenonceau […]

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