Discovering the mythical beauty of Loire Valley series – Amboise, France.
I bet a lot of you are wondering “Is she crazy??? Isn’t she scared? She post about vacations in France with all these terrorist attacks!!, she must have no sense what is going on!” My answer is no, I am not crazy – this is what I wanna believe 🙂 -, I am fully aware of what’s going on and of course I am scared and terribly sad of all the victims and their families. Since the last 5 attacks in France, I live here….
Then why am I still here? Well, my quick answer is that as long as I am healthy, I will never stop travelling and enjoying life despite all these attacks around the world… Attacks, accidents, floods, fires, explosions and all the deadly incidents could happen anywhere and anytime. Even if you think you are safe inside your house…You think it’s impossible? I can assure you, from my own scary experience, it’s not.
A great quote from the blogger “wild-about-travel” and the relevant article: http://wild-about-travel.com/2015/11/on-terrorism-fear-and-why-we-should-not-stop-traveling/ that represents me to the fullest is this one: “”We can be prisoners of the fear, or decide that we will never give up our desire of freedom” A little bit of fear is a good thing because it helps us taking calculated risks, knowing our limits and pushing ourselves a little beyond. Too much fear leads to limiting ourselves and, ultimately, restricting our freedom. I don’t want my travels to be driven by fear, only by inspiration and curiosity….”
My detailed personal answer will be on a future article that I will be posting soon.
So having said the above and enchanted by the beauty of France, my today’s story is about Amboise, a historic place in the Valley. A dear friend from Romania came for a visit and we travelled around the Valley towns during the Christmas period on 2015.
“The Loire Valley spanning in 280 kilometres, is located in the middle stretch of the Loire River in central France, primarily within the administrative region named Centre-Val de Loire. Notable for its historic towns, architecture, and wines, the valley has been inhabited since the Middle Palaeolithic period. In 2000, UNESCO added the central part of the Loire River valley to its list of World Heritage Sites. Because of its history, this region is home to more than a thousand castles and palaces in all shapes and sizes”. (Wikipedia source)
My first stop in the Valley was in the city of Tours, a charming little town where I stayed for two and half months and visited the surrounding area also. The beauty and magic of the Valley had left me speechless lots of times….
Valley includes historic towns such as Amboise, Angers, Blois, Chinon, Orléans, Saumur, and Tours.
For those travelling from Paris, there are TGV bullet trains can get you to Amboise in well under two hours. That period I was studying in Tours and the train journey to Amboise is 20 minutes (27 km) only, for 10 euros. The train station is on the outskirts of the city, 30 minutes walk until the main market town, reachable by a big bridge.
We enter the cute, small market town where it was once the home of the French royal court. Visiting the castle is our first priority in order to avoid any crowds since its Christmas period and normally gets very busy.
“The castle area is a kind of fortified château of its own with a rampart walk and 16th-century chapel. The place survived the French Revolution because the quick-talking noble who owned it was sympathetic to the cause — and convinced revolutionaries that Leonardo was philosophically on their side. Inside you’ll find a lacy, petite chapel where Leonardo da Vinci supposedly is buried, he spent his last three years in Amboise. (He died May 2, 1519.). This flamboyant little Gothic chapel comes with two fireplaces “to comfort the king” and two plaques “evoking the final resting place” of Leonardo (one in French, the other in Italian)”. (Wikipedia source)
Afterwards, we spent some time inside the main castle where we wander through its areas, you travel chronologically from Gothic-style rooms to those of the early Renaissance and on to the 19th century. The castle is quite big, like very comfortable to roam around with its rooms furnished.
The basement holds a collection of some of Leonardo’s amazing inventions. There are impressive even of those even to those who have little or no knowledge of the details of Leonardo. We really liked the big fireplaces which were lit.
To the, top you can find the Minimes Tower for panoramic views. You can climb it through five spirals, from here the visibility is great, and the river below provides a natural beauty. The surroundings of the Castle are really magnificent! The view really silenced us…
Around the outdoor areas, there are enjoyable gardens to explore but also had a lovely lush variety of plants and trees and scenes.
After touring the castle area, we take a lazy walk through Amboise’s magnificent pedestrian-only commercial area. The beauty of this town lays between small streets with the numerous patisseries, coffee shops, restaurants, amazing architecture, great river views and a magical Christmas spirit.
We stop for lunch in a traditional French restaurant where we have the best wine I have tried so far in France, a local semi-sweet Sauvignon blanc (white wine). Simply excellent!
We continue our day for our afternoon coffee in the Bigot patisserie. This shop exists 100 years and it is all about French desserts, good food, drinks and lovely present ideas. The decoration is simple with a vintage style which we really appreciated. We strive to appreciate every bite of the choice of our dessert which is a juice aromatic orange cake.
Then we cross the bridge that passes over the river, we walk on the back side of the bridge where we find the Leonard de Vinci statue and on the back of it a bench. We sat on the bench and we admire the view of the castle on the hill overlooking the village and the river.
Dusk was falling as we walked back towards the train station…a perfect day ended perfectly. A magical place that really worths a visit.