Amboise Day 1

Trip Start Jun 06, 2009
Trip End Jul 07, 2009

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Flag of France  , Centre,
Monday, June 15, 2009

This morning we went to Le Chateau de Chenonceau, probably the most popular and most developed of the Loire chateau's. Restored back to its original renaissance style this lovely chateau is particularly pretty and tasteful, and set in amongst vast gardens and forests. Andre and I enjoyed exploring the various rooms and finding out about the six women who built the chateau and gave it it's graceful design and gardens. A little disconcerning was the black room which was the bedroom of Louise de Lorraine who seemed to have been in permanent mourning with the death of her husband, Henri III, and devoted her life to prayer and wearing only black. The designs on her bedroom walls were cornucopias of tears, crowns of thorns, and feathers which were the symbol of pain. As Andre said, "this woman takes mourning way too seriously".

Interestingly, the chateau survived the French Revolution through the smart thinking of the incumbant female resident who placed firewood in rooms to give them the appearance of storage rooms. In WW1 the chateau became a hospital for wounded soldiers, and in WW2 the chateau was right on the border of the occupied and unoccupied zones of France, as it straddled the river. Although the germans watched the chateau closely it was often thought that more people entered the chateau on the occupied side than left as many people were smuggled out the back door.

The stroll outside in the gardens was refreshing wtih beds of lavenders and pansies, and roses all in flowers, all in shades of pink amd purple. Then around the back to the farmhouse and stables where the vegetables and fruits were grown. It was lovely to discover new plants and trees that don't grow in New Zealand.

After Chenonceau we headed back to Amboise for lunch - a crepe for both Andre and me. We strolled around the streets for a while and then headed up to the castle the overlooks the town and valley. The castle was interesting but quite small. A surprise to me was to find the tomb of Leonardo Da Vinci, who apparently died in Amboise. The highlight was the spectacular views over the whole valley - quite breathtaking. We spent quite a long time taking in all the different vantage points and realised the strategic position of this castle - certainly no-one could sneak up on you by surprise.

As the day had heated up considerably, we headed back to the hotel to spend some time relaxing by the pool, doing a few laps in the vain hope we could burn off a few pounds, and thoroughly enjoying just sitting and reading a book in the sun. After all the food we have consumed the last few days we shared a baguette for dinner - definitely a cheaper meal than last night!
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