A château a day
From Tours you can follow the Loire River in either direction and hit château after château and vineyard after vineyard. We figured if French royalty and nobility thought this was a nice area to set up camp, we should see for ourselves.
Our first week in Tours felt more like summer, so we rented bikes and went east to Montlouis-sur-Loire. The chateau in this town is actually now a hotel, and you can visit the grounds even if you aren't getting your pillow fluffed there. We were too late in the season for their spectacular tomato harvest but did get to see the dahlia garden in full bloom. Nothing beats a blue sky and bright bouncy flowers.
It would have been an insult to the French to not taste and buy some wine on our outing. Here, though, you don't call it a 'tasting;' it's a 'dégustation.' It's the same thing - small samples of different kinds of wine - but the meaning of the word puts more emphasis on enjoying and savoring the wine. Don't worry, I haven't let the bubbles go to my head yet, but we did have some delicious sparkling wine.
Fortunately you don't have to be French royalty to buy a bottle or two. The prices are super affordable (6-10 euro per bottle). We also tried some white wines from a friendly independent wine-maker who we caught just as he was coming back from getting the last grapes from his vines. After giving us some samples, he apologized and said he had to get back to work, but he let us tag along and watch for awhile as he got the machinery ready for some wine-making magic.
With some bottles in our backpacks, we biked back to Tours before it got dark and decided that we should probably plan to visit another château or two in the near future. And have another glass of wine or three.