Day 10: Chenonceau and Amboise Castle
After a leisurely breakfast of pastries, yoghurt with honey and nuts, and coffee, we "chatted" with two ladies from Northern France and our proprietress. They spoke some English but mostly rapid French and neither husband nor I could catch a word. It was nice, though, to sit there and listen. We need to learn more French...
We were both looking forward to seeing Chenonceau. We'd seen pictures of it everywhere, even on the cover of our Michelin Green Guide for the Loire Valley! We got there around 10am and there were lots of people around. It was the most crowded attraction we'd visited but the crowds weren't oppressive once we got inside.
We could certainly understand its popularity! It's gorgeous, well maintained, with beautiful grounds, and a riveting history. Its guide had pictures of each room (which I loved) and was easy to follow. Each room seemed prettier than the previous. And the flower arrangements were gorgeous! We toured all the rooms then lingered in the special exhibit which detailed the history of the chateau through the people that have owned it or lived there. Very interesting and very well done. We took pictures from both Gardens: I liked Catherine DeMedici's best but loved the little caretaker's "cottage" on Diane de Poitier's side. We also visited the little village where carriages where displayed. We walked through the well tended gardens (flowers, plants, vegetables) and said hello to the goats before leaving. This chateau vaulted up to Number 1 on my list (after Cheverny).
We stopped in the village and had sandwiches at the open patisserie. Delish. We decided to head back to Amboise to see the castle and possibly Clos Luce. We got totally turned around heading to the castle--ended up in a really ritzy looking neighborhood high on the hill--but wound our way down to the castle parking. It was actually a nice detour.
Amboise Castle is old and, like Beynac in the Dordogne, is positioned high over the river and town. But that's all they have in common. Amboise castle is very well maintained, the guide is well done, the displays in the castle itself were helpful and we were lucky to see beautiful pottery from Gian in each room to commemorate Francois I. There were also fresh flower arrangements. The views were outstanding on this beautiful late afternoon. We found DaVinci's grave marker in the chapel, saw his bust in the gardens, took tons of pictures and headed out.
It was now 4pm. We had plenty of time to tour Clos Luce but we were tired, so we had drinks instead. We seated ourselves inside a bar, away from the smokers, looking at the castle and relaxed for a good while. It was such a pretty evening that we wandered around Amboise, after getting ice cream at Amorino, window shopping.
We drove back to the B&B only to find our street blocked off because of road work. The proprietress helped us move the barriers but husband couldn't manoeuver into the very narrow driveway because half the street was torn up. She got in the car and took us to her parking spot a block and a half away (so nice!). We asked her where was a good place for dinner and she recommended La Reserve and made reservations for us for 730pm.
We headed out around 645pm. We went back to the bar and had drinks before dinner watching the setting sun beautifully illuminate the castle walls. When we got to La Reserve, we were glad for our reservation since it was packed. This is a nice modern looking but comfortable place with efficient staff and good food. I, unfortunately, developed a bad headache and couldn't enjoy it as much a husband did. Short walk back to the room to pack up and sleep before leaving for Paris the next day.
1. Some slacking is ok on vacation (two castles in one day ='s slacking, lol).
2. Drink more water.
3. Win the lottery so we can buy a place on the Loire river.
Next: Traffic jams derail the plans