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The Loire Valley Itinerary
Wine Tasting and Mushroom Tasting. This is Living!
Today is a rest day of sorts, and there are a number of different things we can do. Most people stroll to Château Chenonceau, which in daylight is really worth seeing. Most of the rooms are open, and this is a chance to see original floors, tapestries and furniture. In general French Château don't have all the furnishings and interior detail that we often see in British castles. Chenonceau is a pleasant exception, and Louise of Lorraine's room, painted entirely in black with silver motifs of tears and crowns of thorns to mourn her dead husband, is especially memorable.
Chenonceau also boasts huge formal gardens, including the original garden of Diane de Poitiers and the rose garden of Catherine de Medici (mother-in-law to the hapless Lorraine). This afternoon we progress on our cycling tour to the Caves du Monmousseau for a tour and a tasting of their sparkling wines.
A short ride beyond Monmousseau are the fascinating mushroom caves of Bourré, where they grow Blue Foot, Shitake, Oyster and Paris mushrooms. Mushroom mycelia need a stimulus to prompt growth - European mushrooms tend to need a light or heat stimulus, but the shitake mushroom from Japan grows naturally on trees and responds to earth tremors common in that neck of the woods. Earthquakes are simulated in the caves using the state-of-the-art device of slapping the bin-liner that contains the mushroom compost. Result? Lots of 'shrooms. It's true, honest!.