25 to 27 May
We all took the opportunity to sleep in a bit after last night’s fun. Jer and I also had to pack for our weekend getaway and get a bit of work done before we left.
As we had mentioned before both Carrie and Rory had been to Paris before, multiple times actually, so we decided to adventure outside the city this time with them. Neither of us had been to Loire Valley yet and it was high on everyone’s list specially because it is not that far from the city.
We had originally booked train tickets, but we found that you really need a car to explore the area properly and the cost of 4 train tickets then renting a car out there was significantly more than just renting a car here in the city and driving. So around 14h30 Jer headed out to go pick up the car while the rest of us finished getting things together so that we could pack up the car and head out right away when he was back.
Although the car pickup was no problem, the traffic on the way back to the apartment was the complete opposite. So finally around 16h15 we had the car packed up and we were on our way.
Unfortunately the traffic fun didn’t stop there as between the weather (thunderstorms and rain) and getting closer to rush hour the normally just over 2h trip turned into just over 3h until we reached our destination of Amboise.
We chose Amboise as our base for the weekend for a few different reasons. First, it was easy to get to and already had a chateau in town. Second, it was a cute town along the Loire river that was very close to many of the different famous chateaus. Third, there was a nice Airbnb that fit us all.
After getting checked into the apartment and getting some recommendations from our host we were quickly back out the door due to the drive taking longer than expected we needed to get to our dinner reservation.
Our favorite Rick, as usual, gave us the recommendation of l’Alliance which was a off the beaten path French fine dining restaurant and as usual the recommendation didn’t disappoint.
In typical fashion they had a great menu for us to choose from and we were even able to finish dinner with the typical cheese tray!! It was a great experience that we were very happy with to start the weekend.
After about 2h, I mean this is a dinner in France after all, we headed back to the Airbnb and relaxed with some wine before heading to bed.
One of the reasons we chose this particular Airbnb was because it had a great outdoor space. We made the most of that this morning by enjoying breakfast and some coffee outside on a beautiful morning.
After we finished up breakfast it was time to start exploring what we really came here for, the chateaus!
Our first stop was the Office of Tourism because we read you could buy multiple tickets in packs for the different chateaus. We knew which ones we wanted to go to, but it was great to get some additional information before heading out.
Our first chateau of the day was the famous Château de Chenonceau known by most for being built over the river, but also known as the home of Catherine de’ Medici after King Henry II died where she had her well known parties.
After spending a few hours exploring the chateau and the grounds we headed back to Amboise as our next stop on the “Tour de Chateaus” was Château Royal d’Amboise which honestly felt a bit more like a fort with a chateau in the middle of it. It is also quite interesting to see how the rest of the town was built up outside the walls of the chateau.
Another cool little thing about this chateau is that Leonardo da Vinci is buried in one of the chapels.
After our second chateau of the day we were quite hungry and we didn’t want anything typical so we couldn’t make up our mind. Another thing this region is know for are its wines. Since we didn’t really have time to go to an actual vineyard we found les Caves Duhard as it said they served charcuterie and had a wine tour in English as well.
The timing worked out perfectly when we arrived as there was an English tour starting in around 30 mins. While we waited we were able to sit outside and enjoy the beautiful day that it turned out to be, as well as some of their wine and charcuterie as the local wine was explained to us a little. Once the tour was ready to start we were in for quite the treat as not only did we get an explanation (with a full on video presentation against the walls of the cave) of how wine started in the valley, but also got to taste some incredible wines and cheeses that paired perfectly together. We even ended up leaving with a bottle from 1985, the year Jer was born!
After the tour was finished we walked back to the Airbnb, with a quick stop at the store to pick up some snacks and drinks for the rest of the afternoon.
Once we were back at the Airbnb Jer decided today was a good day to get his long run in as we had time until dinner, and Rory also said he wanted to get a run in so it worked out well.
While Jer and Rory were out running Carrie and I enjoyed some time out on the terrace. Our time however was slightly interrupted as we started to hear some rumbles off in the distance. Unlike us, unfortunately for Jer and even a bit for Rory, we could easily get inside when the storm started. Rory got back just after the rain really started to kick in, but Jer on the other hand was much further away and got stuck in the middle of the storm, and at one point in the middle of a field. The lightning even got so bad that he found a covering to hide under until it passed. Needless to say by the time he got back he was quite soaked and quite over running for the day.
After they dried out a bit we were all quite hungry so we headed into town to walk around a little and find a place for dinner. We ended up at L’Ancrée des Artistes so we could fill up on some cider, galettes and crêpes.
After a nice dinner we just headed back to the Airbnb to enjoy a few more drinks and enjoying some time together before calling it a night.
After enjoying a relaxing breakfast this morning it was on to my favorite Sunday activity when we travel, a market!!
Since our Airbnb was so centrally located it made it perfect for the market as it was just across the street basically. It was quite big so we spent a while walking around seeing if we could find anything we liked, as well as grabbing a few snacks for the rest of the day.
Once we had finished walking around the market we dropped off some of our stuff at the Airbnb before continuing on to the next chateau of the weekend.
Our next chateau was also within the town of Amboise and just a walk away. Château du Clos Lucé was not just a regular chateau, like some of the others we have been to, it was also an interactive museum throughout the entire grounds because it was once the home of Leonardo Da Vinci. As we made our way through the chateau we were able to see some of his drawings and different inventions he came up with while living there. It was a very cool experience.
We eventually made our way out and through the gardens as well enjoying yet another beautiful day.
Once we had finished walking around we made our way back to Airbnb to do some final packing up and make our way to the car.
We were not however headed straight back to Paris as we had one more chateau to stop at before we were finished with our “Tour de Chateaus”. Château de Chambord, one of the largest chateaus and grounds in the valley, was both on our way back to Paris and on our list of places we wanted to go.
After about a 45 min drive, and seemingly a similar amount of time to find a parking spot, we made our way to the chateau first in order check out the inside and do the tour that was offered with your ticket because this place looked massive and reminded us a lot of Versailles.
Once we were done exploring the grounds and the chateau it was back to the car to make the final part of the drive back to Paris. Of course being Sunday we ran into a bit more traffic coming back into the city of course and we finally got back to the apartment around 18h.
After quickly unloading the car Jer headed straight to the rental agency to drop it off so that he could get back before we headed to dinner.
Being the last evening Carrie and Rory were here we wanted to take them to what has turned into one of our favorite restaurants in the city, Homies Bis. On Saturday night while we had been talking about places to have dinner tonight and we decided on Homies so they could have a different type of experience.
We were a bit rushed to make it to our 20h30 reservation, but of course as with any visitors here to Paris, we had to get our patented selfie at Trocadero.
After enjoying an excellent dinner, and of course some drinks, we headed home to call it a night before we said goodbye to them in the morning.
One comment on “Vallée de la Loire”
We stayed in Amboise as well for a couple of days or actually we had found a small castle outside the city which were a hotel and restaurant as well. It was a bit out of season so we got a deal on the room and a dinner in the restaurant with a michelin star.