This photo was taken from the wallwalk of the Chateau of Chaumont-sur-Loire on one of our recent heatwave days. The river looked inviting, the swifts were in abundance and zooming around the sky, catching insects and practicing their manoeuvres for their all too soon journey back to Africa. Many of these birds will have left on Tuesday on their big migration south. They appear to have nested in the roofspace of the chateau just beyond the upper left of this photo. Carolyn tells me that the chateau was one of the first places in Europe to install swift nest boxes, way back in 1994. The photo has some blurry patches which are because it was taken through a window with some smudges on it.
There is no doubt that the Chateau of Chaumont has some of the best views of the Loire, and makes a very pleasant visit on a hot day. The park is inviting and full of quirky sculpture. The garden festival always has something of interest and the new garden across the road is vast and has more great sculpture and plantings. Inside the chateau has been much improved in the last couple of years, with more information about what you are seeing and a well thought out blending of historic house presentation combined with modern works of art. The visible storage in the attics is a real favourite with many visitors too. The house staff are eager to help if you look a bit confused (the chateau is a bit of a labyrinth inside...) and happy to talk about the exhibits in French or English. And you don't have to stand in line to buy tickets any more. You can buy them online and print them at home. The online tickets are valid for 60 days.