Saturday 13 August 2011

Amboise impressions

Loire river at Amboise
On Monday our friend Jane had to return to the UK. As she had an evening flight from Charles de Gaulle [Paris] we didn't need to drop her off at the TGV station in St Pierre des Corps for her train to the airport until 5pm.

After a lazy start we decided to drive up to Chenonceau and walk along the tow path on the south side of the river Cher. That way Jane could see the outside and get some nice pics. The chateau itself was heaving. There was no other word for it--endless rows of tour buses and a parking lot full to the bursting. Exactly the type of visit to be avoided, so we decided to save it for the next time she comes to see us.

cafe & brasserie row below the castle
But the best-laid plans.... we had forgotten the weather. The rain we've been having turned one of the little bridges the towpath has into an absolute quagmire. The soupy mud was a barrier to anyone not kitted out in proper boots [which we weren't wearing]. So no pics as the chateau was still hidden by trees and a bend in the river.

super tempting chocolatier/patissier
After that we drove over to Amboise and were lucky enough to get a parking space right under the castle--one of Francois 1er's. Amboise was busy. Its castle, on a bluff over-looking the river Loire, with its royal connections is a strong draw for tourists, as is the Clos du Lucé. Francois 1er gifted this residence to Leonardo da Vinci who lived out his last years as a pensioner of the French king. It is an excellent museum and houses wooden models [to scale] of all Leonardo's inventions. 

looking up at the chateau chapel
Sadly we didn't have time to visit and settled for an enjoyable wander round Amboise's lively streets. We resisted the lure of a super-tempting chocolatier & patissier who sold a treat called 'baises d'Amboise' a confection made from meringue. Instead we found a brasserie and opted for: a sensible salad--Jane & Antoinette, and an omelette--Niall. 

It had been a lovely visit: a great mix of doing touristy things, catching up on all the news about mutual friends and doing some great reminiscing. Lastly we drove along the Loire via Montlouis back to the TGV station where we said 'au revoir' to Jane.


ladybird said...

Amboise ... I just can't get enough of it! Seeing your photos is bringing back so many happy memories of holidays spent in this lovely town. 'Vivement' 2012 when I can finally return there (at least that is what I hope). Thank you for posting these photos. Martine

Craig said...

Amboise does indeed look lovely. Lovely photos - thanks for posting them.

Susan said... you rejected a heaving Chenonceau for a heaving Amboise? :-)

Actually, Chenonceau has been better in August than in July. I suspect its reputation for heaving has meant that people are avoiding it in August. Places like Ussé and Cheverny appear to be taking the overflow. In July it was so bad we started curtailing visits there because the clients were feeling claustrophobic, but August has been crowded but acceptable.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Martine - Glad pics bring back good memories :-)
We like it a lot too, stayed here a couple of times en-route to the Quercy and many years ago tried to buy 'the house that never was'[we were outbid]Perhaps we'll tell the story one day.

@Craig - you're welcome :-)

@Susan - LOL!! true it was busy in Amboise but at Chenonceau the parking lots were overflowing!! Jane took one look and said 'no thanks'. At Amboise we drove straight into a parking space below the castle walls [pure luck]. We drove out via Clos Lucé and that was indeed queuing out into the street....

I suspect that the only way to see Chenoneceau in the high season is to be at the gate when it opens in the morning.

wcs said...

We were just recently there. Such a nice place!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Walt - it certainly is! We all seem to be on variations of the "visitor's tour".