Last week’s blog talked about our upcoming travel plans to visit the Loire Valley in France. I’m excited to share that we leave one week from today!! We can’t wait – and we’ll be bringing you along with pictures from our first trip to this particularly chateau and wine oriented part of France. In the 16th century, this was the royalty’s playground. This area is home to more than 1000 castles and palaces (can you believe it? Over 1000!) Renaissance palaces dot the landscape here from a time when the king and his court would come to the Loire Valley to hunt and play and get away from the busy and hectic pace of Paris.
Our meals, wine and chateau tours will add to the cost I talked about last week but we can be smart about those expenses. We’ll blend cooking at our home away from home with enjoying some local restaurants – but we have to eat whether we are at home or in France, so this is not all an added expense.
I asked our AirBnB host for recommendations on restaurants and what to do in the area. I like to confirm these with my guidebook and online resources like TripAdvisor. I’ve also read a lot about this area over the years and have some specific things I want to do while we are there. We plan to visit Chartres and see the cathedral on our drive to the Loire Valley from Paris on the Saturday we arrive. I was planning to pick up groceries on our drive to our lodging as most stores will likely be closed on Sunday, but I learned about the Sunday Market in Amboise and we are all about going to local markets. We love to cook with local ingredients and the market will be the perfect place to feel like a local and find something fabulous for us to make on Sunday night. So I’ve made reservations for dinner at Les Années 30 in Chinon on the night we arrive and then we’ll cook in our apartment on Sunday. We’ll also visit the city of Amboise and Chateau de Chenonceau on Sunday and do some wine tasting near Amboise. We can visit the Caveau des Vignerons in town and the big Cave des Producteurs in Vouvray. It has a selection of wines from 33 producers that they represent. We’ll probably have to pick up some nice bottles for dinner…….
From there we’ll play it by ear, learning the lay of the land, checking our guidebook, taking recommendations from people we meet, setting appointments with wineries that look particularly interesting, and doing some hiking and biking in the area on weather friendly days. We plan to see more castles – Chinon for sure since we are staying close by. There we’ll be sure to learn a bit about Joan of Arc as it was here where she implored Charles VII to unite the French in an effort to take the throne back from the English. She was later tried for heresy and witchcraft and burned at the stake in 1431, but she remains a symbol of French unity and nationalism.
We also definitely want to see Chambord and probably Villandry for its incredible gardens. We can get discounted tickets to some chateaux at tourist information offices and avoid lines that way as well. We also want to drive to Sancerre to taste their famous and fabulous wine. Sometimes it’s nice to have everything planned in advance but for this trip we will play it by ear some days. We like to have a nice balance between scheduled/planned activities and serendipitous ones. We are open to adventure. We do have one more reservation already booked. We’re off to L’Escargot in Saumur for dinner on Monday night. We’ll have to figure out something special for Greg as his birthday is on March 15 while we’re traveling (lucky guy!).
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