Our first day in the Loire Valley, we headed to Amboise. Before we got to Amboise, we stopped in Vouvray. A town on the Loire River, we had to stop there because one of my dad's and our recent favorite white wines is a Vouvray. There was nothing special about Vouvray, and I wouldn't recommend stopping there unless you have a lot of extra time you're trying to kill. We stopped and got some good wine and some croissants and baguette, but then we were on our way.
Onto Amboise, sitting on the Loire River, a small town with a beautiful chateau. We arrived and parked then headed for Rue Nationale, a pedestrian friendly street that runs through Amboise. We enjoyed a nice lunch, then decided to go into the chateau. We hadn't planned on going into the chateau but decided then we would.
On a side note, before our trip, Dad and Kelly invested in Rick Steve's France and Paris books for us to look at before the trip. If you're traveling to Europe, I would definitely recommend Rick's books. You can always tell the American tourists because they are constantly looking at the recognizable blue and yellow books, but they are a huge help.
Back to Amboise, we had lunch at Anne de Bretagne, a place Rick suggested, where I enjoyed my first, but definitely not last, Croque Madame. You gotta go with the madame, not the monsieur, because the madame has an egg on it, which makes it simply delicious. So we enjoyed our lunch on a cafe overlooking the chateau on Rue Nationale.
Rue Nationale-pedestrian street.
We then headed into Chateau d'Amboise. Rick had only given it 1 triangle (out of 3-being best things to see), but let me just tell you, we were rather surprised at how beautiful it was. For being our first, we were thinking we didn't have an expectations or other chateaus to compare it to, but after seeing several over the week, this still remained one of our favorites.
Some history of the chateau for you...
This royal residence which overlooks the Loire river was pretty much designed by Leonardo da Vinci. He retired here in 1516. Francois I is the most famous resident of this palace.
Entrance into the chateau.
Overlooking Rue Nationale at the entrance to the chateau.
Enjoying the view over Amboise from the chateau.
The chapel of Leonardo da Vinci final resting place.
One of the rooms inside. Look at the ceiling.
The river and houses of Amboise. These were the houses where other royals lived. Some beautiful, beautiful houses.
In the garden, we loved the little balls of shrubs.
Taking a rest in the garden.
I loved all the lines of trees. Everywhere we went, there were trees leading to something.
Playing in yet another line of trees.
I loved the view. I could have sat there for hours overlooking the city.
We would give this chateau 3 out of 4 stars. It was quaint and beautiful.
After the chateau we stopped at a wonderful little chocolate shop called Bigot Patisserie & Chocolatier. We got a lot of chocolates to enjoy for the week. And they were delicious. We even said they were better than Bernard C. from Canada, our favorite. I think it is because these chocolates were made right in the shore. Did I mention how delicious they were?
Our new favorite chocolate shop.
That concludes our day in Amboise. That night we enjoyed a quiet evening at home on the patio with a meal of cheese, bread, olives, fruit and wine. This consisted of our meal almost every night we were at Le Bois. The weather was perfect when we were there so we wanted to take advantage of the wonderful patio we had.
The patio we enjoyed every night.
The view of the sunset. While I'm talking about the sunset, it didn't set until 10:30. We would be sitting outside thinking it was like 7:30 with the sun about to set, but it was really 10:00.
Our first day in France was perfect. We had such a surprise in Amboise and the chateau and really enjoyed our quiet night at home.
Next up: Le Tour de France.