The Valley of Castles – Rod & Susan’s Fairy Tale Wedding

The Valley of Castles – Rod & Susan’s Fairy Tale Wedding

The Valley of Castles – Rod & Susan’s Fairy Tale Wedding


This is Part 2 of Rod & Susan's Fairy Tale Wedding. To read Part 1 click here.

Monarch Butterflies

Arlene and I awoke early on Tuesday March 16th;  gathered our bags and equipment and quickly went downstairs to check out of our hotel. We went to the underground metro and headed in the direction of Gare Montparnasse. This is where we met up with Susan, Rod, and Charlize-Joelle. Today we were heading to the Loire Valley, The Valley of Castles.

When we met up with them, I could tell they were tired. It had been a long trip for them but you could tell they were ready for their journey. It was great to see their excitement and anticipation, even after so many years. They were first married September 2nd, 1995; my parents photographed their wedding.


We walked over to them; Charlize-Joelle gave me a HUGE hug (as she usually does) despite being a little sleepy. They had their trolley of suitcases covered in images of monarch butterflies. Not going to lie, I was a little taken back at first with the number of bags (8), but realized that the dresses had each their own bag. (Susan has 3 dresses, all of them beautiful and for different occasions.) It made sense, but it still looked humorous to me to see a tower of Butterfly bags looming on the trolley.


Train Hopping

The train arrived, the ladies got on and Rod and I started hucking the bags onto the train one after the other (the train is only in the station for a few minutes before it takes off again). Just in time, we got them all on, and we were off. We were heading south, destination: the Loire Valley, known as a valley of castles and wine (can you tell I love French wine yet? I swear some of the best is from Chinon).

Charlize-Joelle being 11 years old and quick to regain energy had a bunch and wanted me to play games with her. I played for as long as I could before I dozed off; she didn't mind because the ride was only 2 hours anyways. The SNCF train pulled into the Angers St. Laud station where we were met by a M. Chevalier with a name on the placard for Susan and Rod. He is a friendly looking Frenchman, with dark hair, a little thinning but not that noticeable, dark eyes and a friendly smile. We loaded the luggage into the vehicle and headed in the direction of Grez-Neuville.

Chateau Allure du Lac

Susan & Rod in front of Chateau de la BeuvriereAfter about 45 minutes of driving M. Chevalier turned onto a gravel road through a gate. The route was lined with trees as we approached the grounds. He went around a tiny drive that circled a lovely, yet non-functioning fountain. The chateau is a beautiful statement of French history. It was how you would imagine a chateau to be; pastel colored, stones everywhere, and a certain feeling of presence in being in front of something so old. He parked the taxi and started pulling luggage out of the trunk. Finally pulling out the last bag, he opened his phone and he called the proprietor. Speaking in French he informed the person on the phone that Susan & Rod have arrived. After about 10 minutes wait, the door creaked open.

The proprietor

Susan Stayne Jackson Dohan

An old lady opened the door with a big smile, cloudy eyes, blond hair extensions, and make-up looking ready to go out on the town. The proprietor was wearing a big fur jacket with furry boots. She greeted us with her York or Devon accent (can’t remember which one) with the air of a sweet old exuberant lady.


“Oh darlings!” she said, “Welcome to my chateau” extending the “o” sound in the British manner when she spoke.
“Hello Susy!” Susan said, “The chateau is just as beautiful as I had imagined”.


We stepped inside the door and realized why Susy was all bundled up. It was really cold. I definitely didn’t pack for this.


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