Whats it like living next to a castle?
07.05.2011 20 °C
Now, off to the Loire Valley and a lovely little place called Amboise-
and just a little apology to all friends and family in Aust.....our communication has been bloody awful with little or no internet and phone access.....sorry and we try and remedy as we go from place to place!!!
Note for future travelling…….smaller luggage is essential when trying to negotiate
the Underground,Metro or any kind of public transport really- 5 women lugging 5 heavy suitcases around is not an easy task….and whenever we got help from anyone, they’d say…..sooooo heavy…big trip…non? But of course, the problem is also our shopping potential…how can anyone resist so many beautiful things?
We’ve already sent home a couple of parcels to lighten the weight load and fully expect by the time we get to Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples that we may need to do that once more!
We hopped a train from Paris to St Pierre de Corps…somewhere in the middle of the beautiful Loire valley…about an hour out of Paris…can see why all the Chateux were built there! After collecting our hire car- thinking that Amboise is about ½ hour out in the country….we all piled into our Mercedes Vito 9 seater diesel wagon! OMG….how big is this tank? I drove for the first time with everything on the wrong side of the carthen had to tackle French right side driving….all rather frightful I might add but made incredibly easier by Lisas navigation and constant reminders to stay on the right side of the road!
(It is safe to say at this point that we are all very grateful to Moy for driving us all whilst in France but the likelihood of her ever getting a job with Linfox is not on the cards and counseling anxious drivers is probably not high on the agenda either.
We arrived in Amboise…a beautiful medieval French village avec enormous castle hovering above it…right on the Loire river.
So pretty,so French and so chic!
After finally locating our 400 year old appt building and parking this enormous tank of a care we settled ourselves intoVilla concorde- this would’ve been a doctors house(or equivalent) to the castle. The castle wall was about 10 metres away with a huge moat between us and the building. Our appt was on the first floor( more luggage lugging!ugh! but featured a beautiful wooden spiral staircase,low timber beamed ceilings and beautifully appointed with original furniture)
Our first day was spent wandering around getting acquainted with this delightful little place…such a lovely change from the hectic pace of London and Paris!
We discovered an amazing little café/patisserie called Bigots….has been owned by the same family for over a century….but unbelievably wonderful chocolates, coffee, cakes……..aaaarrrgggghhhh heaven!!! And we’ll never forget the chocolate chantilly- an irresistibly chocolaty hot choc with whipped cream on top! Aarrgghhhhh, heaven!
Our first morning in Amboise was spent watching the Royal Wedding of Kate and Wills….very amusing on French television with French commentary….. highly amusing! But wished we were hearing more detail of the whole shebang- it was nice to see the whole place as we’d seen it a day or two before…giving us a clear perspective of London geography.
After we’d all separated exploring this lovely little town( great shops too!) we met up on the top of the hill in Amboise and sent thru Clos de Luce- a smaller chateau built for Leonardo De Vinci by Phillipe 1st of France. He’d asked Leo over to come and stay(?) and do a spot of painting, inventing, etc and Leo fell in love with the place and spent the last few years of his life there. He is buried in the main Chateau there. Its a beautiful place to visit and highly recommended to anyone who loves such history. They
have recreated about 40 of his early inventions including the ball bearing, canterleaver gates, an early tank, transmission,helicopters, machine guns and all sorts of incredible things I didn’t know he was responsible for!
Clare and Lisa cooked us a lovely chicken we bought at the local market- big chooks they have in france complete with head,feet etc to show the freshness! Incredible cheeses,wines and other local produce including horse meat….which made me gag slightly!
On Saturday we got going early for a day at Chamont sur Loire- oh, just another chateau down the road/river…..on the way we came across some very interesting dwellings – troglodytes….inhabited caves by the locals who renovate and live very comfortably in them! They’re everywhere around the Loire and arose from early cave dwellings! Apparently, they’re very comfortable and keep a constant temperature throughout the year…plumbed and wired very successfully and the only problem seems to be humidity and that is solved with efficient ventilation! Bit like our Coober Pedy counterparts I guess!
Robyn( our resident Garden designer!) had spent countless hours planning her visit to Chamont dur Loire- apart from being a fairytale castle it boasts an international garden show of world renown- garden designers worldwide are invited to plan and construct these amazing horticulture/artistic exhibits- It was a fantastic day seeing unbelievable feats of horticulture in a medieval castle setting…set off by a suberb lunch in the restaurant- in the morning we did the gardens, lunch,wine then sauntered over to the castle for a bit of a tour!Nostradamus lived there for a time..as did Catherine De Medici! All quite extraordinary really!
Things are a little quiet in the evenings in rural France! Well, actually nothing happens much and a bit the same on Sundays….so just as well we could partake of the local reds,whites and bubblies! Sunday was a bit lazy and after doing a bit of a walk Mahony and I discovered you could hire Segways to get around in…and after sore and blistered feet from castle crawling we thought it the perfect opportuntity for a bit of fun…so off Clare,Lisa, Mahony and I trotted to meet our trusty French guide who spoke pretty good English- he gave us all a quick lesson in how these weird contraptions work then off we shot….all over Amboise, up hill, down dale, saw Mick Jaggers place!around castle walls and even down very scary inclines….very cute he was telling us to be not ‘impressed’ because it is very ‘impressive’ down there! We think he meant scarey and to not be scared….but believe me it was a bit hairy at times but we all stayed on and looked the gorgeously awkward middleaged Australian women that we are! Ha Ha….that was such fun and intend on chasing up a similar opp in Rome…apparently, segways are legal( considered pedestrian vehicles…they only go 25kph) and are used by police and all sorts of people very commonly….so much fun though and incredibly operated by mere balance! Lisa googled them for Aust and apparently not legal at home?????? Think we’re a bit behind cos they’re really safe and seem to move around walking traffic really easily….our guide videoed us zooming around…will post that soon!
Our last night in Amboise we had a lovely dinner at a typical restaurant there and Clare had foie gras…..she loved it but me (Clare here, just doing a bit of proof reading and I got to say I did not enjoy my foie gras but thought it necessary to try once, felt very guilty, very, very guilty)….eeeeyyyyeeww! apart from being exceptionally cruel in its process I reckon it tasted like fatty tasteless mush- just as well I’m not a gourmand cos I wouldn’t make a very good one!
Conclusion of France=
Wine cheap and yummy,
Baguette and patisserie wonderful especially Lauderee or Fauchon macaroons!!!!!!!
Food in most eateries pretty ordinary on the whole but the odd one lovely,
Black footed chooks!
Loved the busking on the metro and got the hang of how to get around really well.
Hawkers and gypsies
Gargoyles and chateaux ++++++
Local people seem to be happy and comfortable in their own skin….nearly everyone we met was nice to us and after trying our basic French were more than happy to oblige us with help!
We loved the Seine….such a romantic place to be with 4 women friends!!! Ha, not