Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Sunday afternoon in Amboise

Visiting the castle of Amboise occupied the best part of Sunday afternoon. Although I’d planned a walk in the gardens of Valmer castle later that day, I didn’t want to rush my friends as they were obviously enjoying Amboise and the magnificent views from the top of the castle.

The Loire River seen from the top of Amboise castle.

We were rather surprised to find a life fire burning in one of the fireplaces of the castle. As the wind outside was still chilly, in spite of the sunny skies, we appreciated the warm glow of the sizzling logs. Next to the fireplace was a huge stock of wood, which indicated that the fire would be kept going for a while longer; something we had never seen during our two previous visits.

A unexpected life logfire in one of the halls of Amboise castle.

We also visited the chapel where the supposedly last remains of Leonardo Da Vinci are buried. As you may recall, I posted earlier about Italian scientists recently getting permission to open up the tomb to examine the remains. They want to prove a long-existing theory that the portrait of the famous Mona Lisa is a self-portrait of the great man himself. You can read all about it here.

Except from one group of tourists taking the tour with a guide, there were very few people around. We had the grounds and halls almost to ourselves and enjoyed the calm and serenity. When you visit Amboise in June, like we used to in the past, the place is usually very crowded with tourists and groups of school children.

After leaving the castle at half past five, it was too late to go to Valmer as the gardens close at 6 p.m. We therefore walked into the ‘Cave des Vignerons’ which is situated in the rock beneath the castle. Here we tasted three types of red wine, two of which we really liked; the third being far too tannic. We bought three bottles of each. They would be perfect to accompany our evening picnics at the chambre d’hôtes.

Arriving in Vouvray, 16 km west of Amboise, we were greeted by six bell strokes from the village church. We checked into our rooms. At my request I was given the same troglodyte room in which I stayed with my friend during our two previous visits. B. and J.L. were given a nice, spacious room on the first floor of the outbuilding that also accommodates the kitchen where in the morning breakfast is served. Next to it is a sitting room with comfortable armchairs, a television set and a computer.

We unpacked our luggage and freshened up a bit before going out for a short reconnaissance tour of the village. As it was Sunday, all the shops and three out of the four village bars were closed. The one that was open didn’t look very inviting, so we cut short our walk and went back to the house were we had a picnic dinner with the supplies we had bought in the market that morning.

By 9.30 we all agreed that is was time to go to bed. We had been up since four in the morning and had been on our feet for the best part of the afternoon. Before turning in, I made some short notes about our activities of the day. The last thing I heard was the bell of the church tower striking ten times. I think I more or less ‘passed out’ after that.

I had no idea that being a tour guide – even an unofficial one – would be so exhausting!



Louise said...

I am so pleased to have discovered your blog. Despite living "Downunder" I am a regular visitor to France and the Loire Valley holds some special memories for me. I am looking forward to my first visit to Belgium in July.

ladybird said...

Hi Louise, Welcome and thank you for posting a comment. How long will you be staying in Belgium and which places are you going to visit? Just let me know if you need some tips!

Leon and Sue Sims said...

Enjoying your stories - still.

PS - Hi Louise from down under.
We also visit the Loire and France.
Just lovely.

Nadege said...

Martine, maybe being a volunteer guide to foreigners visiting Belgium could be in your future (or not).

Nadege said...

PS : bitter melons are really bitter. My asian friends add a piece to soups. Apparently, there is something in them that make it a very healthy vegetable. I guess asian stores would sell them. I am not sure when the season is and will ask her. We can find them in grocery stores here (US) all the time.

ladybird said...

Leon and Sue, Thank you!

Lynn said...

We were in Amboise in June 2008 and it was really nice. Not crowded at all. After touring the chateau we walked the mile or so up to the Clos Luce. I remember a lot of troglodyte dwellings. It was drizzling, but a nice cool drizzle that didn't get you drenched. I plan to recreate that walk when we go back this summer. It was really a lovely town.

ladybird said...

Lynn, We were in Amboise in June 2008 too. During our one-week stay stay, I remember it drizzling on Monday but the rest of the week was sunny and warm, except for a thunderstorm on Thursday afternoon. And it was raining on Friday, when we left. Maybe we crossed each other in the street, without knowing it :)! Life is so full of coincidences. Have a lovely trip this year. Mine is alreay over :( unfortunately!