Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Amboise and its castle

Last week I spent a long weekend visiting the Loire Valley with my family. I wanted to show them the beautiful scenery of this region full of so much history and its architecture. Evidently it is all so different from what we can see back home in the Caribbean. I want to share  useful information for those of you who would want to visit soon.

The castles which extend over several cities of the region are gorgeous and some are part of UNESCO's World Heritage. The legacy of this region is varied. From Medieval style to Renaissance palaces, one after the other makes a trip worthwhile. The castles are usually enclosed by gardens, huge walls or lavish sculpted decorations. There is a castle for everyone.

The 17th century Amboise castle borders the Touraine province is a charming place to make a day stop. It borders cities such as Blois,Tours and OrlĂ©ans. The little town offers an open market, many cute shops of numerous kinds. Then, there is that Castle or chateau as you say in french. If you are just making an afternoon stop, it is still a lovely place to have a drink, have a sweet treat at the pâtisserie or chocolaterie or just stroll down the little paved streets. 

Once you visit the castle, placed up on a hill, you will experience a lovely view of the region. You can see kilometers of vines. The castle is very well maintained and even kids will enjoy the experience of the tour. I went with a six year old and he had a blast discovering the knights' armors and statues. The Loire Valley was home for former Royalty of France as well as Descartes, Balzac and Leonardo da Vinci (his grave is in the Amboise castle). Numerous Royals including North African Emirs lived here.

Once you find yourself outside, the gardens  that surround the castle are the cherry on the sundae. Look out for all the gargoyles, statues and other architectural wonders on the outside. The gardens have been expanded even as late as 2005. I found the Oriental garden beautiful. An oasis of zen. The tombs facing the mecca, made in memory of the companions of an Emir who took residency in the castle at one time in history are so peaceful.

If you are interested in visiting the region, here are some useful links including transportation, activities and the tourism office. Remember this region is huge!

Train SNCF

Chateaux de la Loire

Top 5 by CNN Travel
Tourism in Loire Valley

Elle decor top 10 Loire Valley castles 

This iconic castle is not to be missed if you come visit the Touraine region. And don't forget to take some pics of you being happy there!