Surprise Adventure to Château Valmer

I‘m honestly stupidly emotional writing this. After three years and so much anticipation, I spent yesterday afternoon with Maurine Soudier. Yes, the OG Maurine from Woman On The Wall. For those in the know, Maurine is the lynch pin in the historical timeline and makes a surprise appearance in the World War II timeline. All inspired by this very real and wonderful person.

We met at Château Gaillard Amboise in 2019 and her tour ended up shaping the novel in huge ways. She spent quite some time with me, sharing stories about the gardens. I learned that the forest beyond was “hell” while the main gardens were “heaven.” She even showed me a secret passage under the castle that lead straight to the royal chambers beyond. All of this makes an appearance in the novel in some form. So, you can see that her knowledge and storytelling abilities are inspirational.

Well, yesterday she treated me to another amazing adventure at the absolutely spectacular Château de Valmer – Vins et Jardins.

Chateau Valmer and Its Stories

Valmer is a storied Château and winery in the middle of the French countryside. The owner is a botanist and has thousands of plant species growing in her most spectacular Renaissance kitchen gardens. We taste-tested our way through an amazing collection of plants (can you imagine my level of squee?). I got to hear the incredible stories of a hidden crypt and the main Château destroyed by fire in 1948. The family that has owned and lived at Valmer for hundreds of years and cultivated all of the wonderful elements of design, history, and intrigue that it contains.

The Troglidyte Chapel

One of the highlights (that I had actually tried to come see in 2019, but could not make it work) was the ancient chapel built right into the tufa stone that is under nearly all of the Loire Valley. Inside, the reverence to the Virgin Mary, the folk art, and the peace proved astounding.

Check out the full video I made on Château Valmer:

Maurine is the best guide and I was honoured to spend yet another incredible afternoon with a very special friend.

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