Our apartment is on the l'île d'or, the only inhabitable island in the Loire River. It is directly across from "the royal Château at Amboise” a 15C favored royal residence. We visited the chateau on our European tour in 1986. It still looks the same. ;-) The thing that struck us the most about the Chateau is that it has a huge round structure (sort of a squatty tower) that encloses a ramp built to allow residents and guests to arrive at Chateau level (several stories up from ground level) via horse and carriage. The tower is still there too.
|Amboise castle and bridge to l'île d'or; shot from our apartment|
We eventually found the energy to head to the well-regarded E.Leclerc Hypermarche. We stocked up on breakfast supplies, wine and cheese. Pat discovered some fresh “shell beans”, one of our favorites so we decided to eat-in. We picked up a roast chicken and a baguette along with peppers and tomatoes as accompaniments.
When we got home, we noticed that instead of buying chunky peanut butter to go with our croissants…which we thought would be fun to try, we got crunchy speculoos. Hmm, what is it? It is made of wheat flour, sugars, oils and some spices. A little research on the web reaps the headline “Biscoff Spread: Lotus Speculoos spread dubbed 'crack in a jar' is flying off supermarket shelves.” Bischoff is the British name for spice cookies known as Speculoos on the Continent, and this is apparently just a spreadable version. And it seems to be available in the US, so be on the lookout if you haven’t seen it and …if you have a sweet tooth.
Later we walked around town. Along the way we peaked into Clos Luce, the home of Leonardo da Vinci at the end of his years (from 1516 to 1519), checked out a few Troglodyte homes (houses built into the limestone cliffs), and basically walked around the chateau.
|Troglodyte home - built into the limestone cliff|
|Our rental is the second house from the right...La Porte Bleu|
|Cruising down the River Cher|
It is chateau day. We were off to Chambord with it's a spectacular array of towers. We wandered up and down the double helix staircase (two circular staircases combined in one space, offset by 180 degrees...thought to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci). We enjoyed viewing the spires from many different angles (especially ground-level and roof-level). Chambord is typically pictured with a marvelous reflection in the water in front, but we had a construction site instead. We think there was more work going on than originally planned due to the flood in June which damaged the grounds. The spires were still impressive, even without the reflection. Note: Chambord is the largest château in the Loire Valley; it was built as a hunting lodge for François I, whose royal residences were in nearby Blois and Amboise.
|Oh, look! It's King François I...|
|Chambord Towers from inside the castle|
|The spires from the rooftop. If you look closely you can see Pat waving from the bottom left of the photo.|
|tThe double helix staircase|
|Yep, that is a flooded house with the grounds and house now serving as a garden.|
The chateau is lovely, fairy-tale'ish. The horse stables are luxurious. The "permanent" gardens were delightful with beautiful purple, blue and white plantings. The stables were quite luxurious and the horses must have had a really good life. The decor of the stables was not quite like the chateaux but it's not exactly a typical stable either.
|The Tack Room|
|Layout of Chaumont Sur Loire...with the castle in the top right.|
|This is the main garden still planted in the original Diane Portier design.|
|Here's the front view castle from the garden. Looks pretty much the same as from the back.|
|An elegant cabinet|
|Some detail from one of the Flemish tapestries. Nice colors. Nice birds.|
|A couple of the supporting farm buildings|
|Pat caught a photo of Leonardo talking about his Mona Lisa (he is a projection, |
the painting, a copy ...we assume)
|This is a small sample of a large collection of models of his many futuristic inventions|
|This dovecote could house 1000 pigeons. It was creepy thinking of being there when they start flying around. We also wonder if they were able to keep track of the specific little cubical was "theirs".|
|A canon in front of the armored car designed by Leonardo|
Tomorrow: Off to Bordeaux.