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A week-end to visit the Loire Castles may seem conventionnal but it remains an inevitable trip for all those who want to feel like they are going back in time for a few days.
That’s why I took advantage of a long week-end of May to go visit these much-touted castles. And I definitely wasn’t disappointed.
But before the trip, you face a major dilemma. There would be indeed almost 3000 castles in the Val de Loire (which may explain why the area belongs to the UNESCO world heritage). So even if you are very quick and very efficient, you will need to give up on
a lot of some of them.
I chose to visit 4 castles during these 3 days, and it’s very doable. Obviously, you can’t chose to visit castles that are 2-hour drive from each other (and they exist !) and there’s no point at visiting endless castles. I swear that, at the end, you won’t be able to make a difference between the room of the king what’s-his-name at the thingy castle and the room of the what’s-her-name queen at the blabla castle. The important thing is to have a good time and enjoy the visit, more than check the list of castles you found on tripadvisor. (Who’s taking a bet for how many times I am going to write the word « castle » in this article ?)
Here are the castles I chose to visit (in sequence) :
- The Amboise Castle :for an absurd reason. When I was 13, I read a novel (which I loved by the way but I couldn’t find it #sad) on the french king François 1er and his life in Amboise. I loved it so much that I absolutely wanted to visit this city and its castle. And I didn’t regret it !
- The Chenonceau Castle : based on a friend’s advice. And if you’re reading this, thank you very much !
- The Blois Castle : honestly, I think it was because it’s on the way from Chenonceau to Chambord.
- The Chambord castle : it’s big, it’s famous → it must be beautiful (
or not ?)
To start this week-end, we arrived to Amboise right in time for lunch. The minute we arrived to the city entrance, I knew I would like it. The weather was great, the bridge linking the 2 parts of the town is beautiful, the streets make you want to go for a walk, what else ?
We chose to eat at the restaurant of the hotel we booked for the night, the hotel Le Français. The meal was quite good and cheap. There’s a parking right across the street and the it’s well-placed. However, the hotel is very old-fashioned. For a night, it was ok but I wouldn’t have stayed there much longer.
The city of Amboise is just beautiful. It kept all the charm of its history. There a lot of pedestrian streets, that allow you to easily discover the city by foot. I thought it really deserved the visit, even without its castle (but don’t worry, we will talk about it anyway).
For diner, you have a very wide choice ! I can only advise you to eat at the restaurant Anne de Bretagne, at the Michel Debré square. Really delicious !
And now, let’s talk about the main topic : the castle. It’s located on the hills of the city, which allows you to have a beautiful view of Amboise and the Loire. The garden is very large and the walk is very nice, with many different varieties of trees and plants.
On the inside, the castle and its furniture are well preserved, but it remains quite empty. The architecture is beautiful, and the idea that Leonard da Vinci walked on these floors and through these rooms, thinking about his next invention, is enough to please our imagination.
On top of the Amboise castle, you can also visit the castle of Clos Lucé, where Leonard da Vinci lived for a while. Apparently, there would even be an underpass between the two castles, that François 1er used to take to visit the engineer.