Riding Vacation in France: Day 4

Kathryn O'Brien picks up "excess luggage" as she continues to enjoy the French cuisine and souvenir shops on her riding trip through the Loire Valley region.

| © CCI

July 8, 2004 — Bonjour Mesdames et Messieurs. As promised yesterday, I want to devote more attention to the elegant and history-rich Chateau d’Ivoy located in Ivoy le Pré. Our charming host and hostess, Monsieur and Madame Goueffon de Vaivre welcomed us warmly and spent hours regaling us with the well-documented historical connection the chateau shares with Mary Queen of Scotland and Lord Drummund. They provided us with a delicious dinner that contributed to the excess baggage, which we will all be carrying when we return to “normal food” in the States.

Of great interest to me was the spectacular collection of period furnishings and lovely paintings. Once again the suites were beyond our imagination as there is really nothing to compare to them in the States. My suite was indeed just that, “sweet.” The huge four-poster bed had a lovely canopy draped on all sides. While lying on the softly starched, ironed and embroidered sheets you could enjoy a fire in the marble fireplace or gaze out the huge windows at the manicured lawn which led to the private lake.

The bath was stunning and featured a selection of classical music to listen to while luxuriating in the huge tub or showering nearby. The warmed towels were but a step away. Certainly the sweet description would not be complete without mentioning the attached nursery, which was decorated with its own smaller version of the canopy bed and lots of toys and teddy bears.

Once again this morning’s challenge was trying to decide how many croissants I could eat. I am happy to admit that I surpassed my previous record.

After breakfast, we headed out to the horses. It is such a pleasure to ride with a group of confident riders who are mounted on such well-trained horses.

On our way to lunch, we passed through a small village and gave the horses a drink from the marble watering trough in the center of the little shops. It was thrilling to see that such a thing still exists and was filled with clean water for our horses’ enjoyment.

We lunched with the locals at a quaint little restaurant where the special of the day was rabbit. Despite my adventurous spirit there is not enough wine in France for me to even sample a taste so I had a different dish of spinach, eggs, cheese and rice followed by scrumptious chocolate cake.

One of the great opportunities of this trip is the shopping in the little villages. Today we found ourselves in a place known for its homemade pottery. We met some of the artists and admired their work. Our trusty guide Patrick made arrangements to pick up the purchases later in the evening so we could spend freely and not have to worry about carrying out goods on horseback. Now if he can just figure out how to get our souvenirs on the plane.

We had a very relaxing ride on the way to our next destination until an atypical wind and rainstorm blew in for a few minutes. Those of us with voluminous raingear may have invented a new sport “Equisailing.” It is like parasailing only on horses.

We have arrived at our destination for this evening, a darling farmhouse. I must go now and sample the delicacies the hostess has prepared for us. (Perhaps I should consider renaming my articles — “Eating my way through the Loire Valley.”) I will keep you updated as soon as I get the chocolate out of my keyboard.

Au revoir for today, mes amis.

Read Kathryn’s Postcard from France: Day 3 and Postcard from France: Day 5.

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