We decided to have a sleep in day, and I had a nice quiet morning drinking my french cafe in the beautiful gardens of Le Clos d’Amboise. This also gave me time to go through our to do list of Palaces and Chateaux that we wanted to visit in our 2 full days here. On our list was Chambord, Chenonceau, and Cheverny, which had the added bonus of watching La Soupe Des Chiens- feeding of the dogs, which was something I was really looking forward to as a result of my research. Plus I wanted to explore Amboise.
Before starting our day, we had a beautiful breakfast at our Chateau. The variety of offerings were quite extensive, and even included a soft boiled egg bar; something I have never seen before. It took me back to my childhood as this was something my Mom made for my sister and I regularly, and we even had our own special soft boiled egg cups.There are many great reasons to travel, but one of my top reasons is to meet and speak with different people. At breakfast we sat next to a lovely family- Mother (Mary), daughter (Lilia) and Lilia’s Grandmother. I had conversed briefly with Lilia the day before at the pool, and in my broken french had commented to her that she was a fish like my daughter was when she was little. Lilia did not really understand, but her Mother smiled as she got the gist of what I was saying. We ended up having a nice, long conversation with Mary and Lilia at breakfast, explaining where we were from, where we had traveled to so far, and where we were going. Kalyna also explained why her french was so good, and they were kind to me when I tried to speak french. They were a lovely family from a city close to Amboise and were on a mini vacation to one of their favourite places- Le Clos d’Amboise. It was a highlight for both Kalyna and I to have met this family, and I am still in contact with Mary via Instagram.
It was now late morning, and we were off to start our day and driving through the Loire Valley to Chambord. The country side in the Loire in beautiful. The roads are windy, and vary in speeds, but not as fast as the major highways. We followed the river for most of each trip, which was nice. The Loire has many towns, and many of them have a Chateau in them, so if you are an enthusiast of Chateaux, you will have MANY to visit.
We arrived at the entrance to The Estate of Chambord, a huge forest that surrounds the Palace of Chambord; it “is the largest walled and enclosed park in Europe, with the same area (about 13500 acres) as Paris proper.”
They say that “It is a magical atmosphere as soon as you arrive”, and they weren’t kidding!
The architecture is extraordinary, as is its size. Then as you get closer, we then saw the meticulously manicured French Gardens, which were even more impressive to view from the balconies a top of the palace.
We wanted to explore the inside of this palace and it was instantly confirmed as we got closer, that it is “radically unique”, and that it is “perhaps the equivalent in architecture of Mona Lisa in painting.” At least from the outside.
Rick Steves had recommended to rent the audio guide and skip the “useless” HistoPad, but when I went to the counter to rent the audio guide, it was not available anymore, and only the L’HistoPad was available. Hmmm. Kalyna wasn’t interested, so I just rented 1, and it was immediately frustrating figuring out how to use this. It was designed to be interactive, which is great if that is what you want, but what I really wanted was an explanation of what I was looking at. It also used GPS, so the rooms it had information on, it would automatically start and stop the room description as you entered and exited each room that it had information on.
The spiral staircase in the center was the most impressive part to this palace as it was no small feat to be able to build this masterpiece! Here are some highlight pictures of our self guided tour. There aren’t a tonne of pictures as honestly, the inside was a bit lack luster. It was hardly furnished, and had a contemporary art showing going on, which I had appreciation for, BUT was a bit confusing in this setting. Also there were very few plaques with explanations which was disappointing, and caused our tour to be WAY faster than we thought it would be.
There was one room that was fully furnished and was quite evident it was a tribute to the hunting that was done on these grounds many years ago. It was very unique and showed the great respect that we see for dogs in this area.
One thing that was disgusting to me was all of the graffiti that we saw in all of the stone outside. It is disgusting to think that so many people thought they needed to leave their insignificant, and ego filled mark on this beautiful structure! It was everywhere!
As our tour of the Palace did not take long, this left us time to have lunch, which we were surprised to see was very affordable on the grounds, which would be rare in Canada or the U.S. to find delicious food at a low price at any tourist place. I had an AMAZING salad, which is one of the things I really miss about France- their salads! And it was rare that any of the salad choices contained Gluten, unless you needed to ask for no croutons, which they did not use a lot of. They have an art of mixing, fresh, seasonal produce, with proteins and potatoes! And the lettuce is both sweet and tender, as it was grown on the grounds!
We had accomplished so much today, and we still had more time for another Chateau, so we ventured off to what I would discover to be my favourite- Chenonceau.