June 25, 2018


Le Chesnay, France


Carcassonne, Chateaus and The Mediterranean

Dear Family and Friends,
While the temple was closed in June, we met our daughters Cherilyn and Julie in Carcassonne. Or I should say we tried to. There was a train strike that day, and after we had traveled by train three-fourths of the way, we were informed the train was stopping in Montpelier. We were lucky to find a hotel at 9 p.m. for the night. The next day, we were able to arrive in Carcassonne, meet Cherilyn and Julie, and see the Old City again. Elder Neil L. Andersen talked about this walled city in his April 2018 General Conference talk. He compared the tall towers built to the watchmen who stood on those towers to warn of approaching enemies, similar to our prophet Russell M. Nelson warning us of spiritual dangers we cannot see.

We then drove to Collioure — a gorgeous seaside town on the Mediterranean Sea. It was beautiful, calm and a perfect temperature there. We took a small tourist train up to the top of the hill where there is a small castle and grape vineyards that date from ancient times. The harbor has a fort, the remains of an ancient fort, a Royal Chateau, and a chapel. Collioure has been in Spanish and French control throughout the centuries and has the influence of both. The old medieval city has been painted by many artists. There is even a stone windmill on the hill.

We stopped in Limoges where porcelain china is made in a few factories. The factory we went to has made china for some of the presidents of the United States. They also have a museum there that was interesting.

Our main reason for going on a trip while the temple was closed was to see the famous chateaus in the Loire Valley. We felt like we were walking into the Middle Ages to explore these beautiful chateaus and their gardens.

The first castle we visited was Azay-le-Rideau. This chateau was built between 1518 and 1528 by the treasurer to the king. It was so nice that the king, Francois 1, seized it and kept it for himself. The chateau is situated over the Indre River and is reflected in the river. It is a beautiful place.

We next visited the Villandry Chateau, which is famous for its extensive gardens that are in geometric patterns. We thought the gardens were amazing.

On June 6, we stayed in a charming bed-and-breakfast out in the country and surrounded by flowers, trees and a great garden that provided food for the high-end restaurant there.

We then visited the Amboise Chateau, which was another residence of Francois 1. It is massive and overlooks the Loire River and is the final resting place of Leonardo da Vinci. A small stone chapel was built to house da Vinci’s grave. Francois brought Leonardo to France from Italy and let him stay down the road at a chateau called du Clos-Lucé. We really enjoyed this place and the recreations of de Vinci’s studio, his drawings, inventions and a copy of the Mona Lisa. There are beautiful gardens housing some of da Vinci’s genius inventions that IBM built.

Our next chateau was Chaumont-sue-Loire, which had many interest furnishings, tapestries and beautiful floor tiles. It was huge, and we enjoyed seeing the carriages, too. We then traveled to the Chenonceau Chateau, which is considered the jewel of the Loire Valley. It arches over the Cher River and reflects in the water. There are fresh flower arrangements in the rooms throughout the summer. It was the home of Henry II’s mistress until he died, and then his wife, Catherine de’ Medici, kicked her out and moved in.

On Friday, June 8, we drove to Blois to see the Royal de Blois Chateau. It has had a castle on this site since the 900s. King Louis XII and Francois I built this chateau (Francois really got around) and it has a protruding stone spiral staircase in the courtyard.

Our last chateau was Chambord, which is absolutely huge with a lattice-like look. This hunting lodge surrounded by a forest has 440 rooms and 365 fireplaces! We enjoyed it, but when we got to the third floor after climbing the massive double helix stone staircase, we decided that we had seen enough of how the rich kings, queens, etc., lived!

We were grateful to return home from our adventure and enjoy our place of peace and beauty where the statue of the King of Kings is at the temple. It was wonderful to have our daughters with us. We are grateful for our many blessings and for the opportunity to see France when we have a break from the temple.

Elder Richard and Sister Karen Bradford


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