Leaving Paris and headed south to the Loire Valley
Jul 5, 2011
|July 5, 2011
Today we left Paris for the south of France. We have a small bus, but because we only have 24 in our group we all have plenty of room. We headed south to the Loire Valley to the city of Amboise.
Here Francis I, King of France arranged for Leonardo da Vinci to move from Florence to Amboise France in 1516.
Leonardo set up shop at Clos Luce, a chateau near the castle at Amboise built originally in 1471. For 200 years, from 1490 to 1690, this chateau served as a royal residence and summer residence for kings of France. And it was Leonardo's home from 1516 until he hied there in 1519. An underground cave allowed the 22 year old Francis to visit the brilliant 60+ year old Leonardo at Francis’s leisure. Leonardo spent many years at Amboise where he continued working on his brilliant designs and inventions until his death, reportedly in Francis’s arms.
When Leonardo left Florence, he brought the Renaissance to France, where its influence spread throughout the region.
We were given a choice of looking at the castle or Leonardo’s house, so Susan and I went to Leonardo’s house. It was well worth it.
We toured the rooms that Leonardo enjoyed when he was in Amboise and where the Mona Lisa was in residence (Leonardo took it with him when he went to France.) We saw models of many of his inventions in the house as well as on the grounds around the chateau.
From there we drove To Chenonceau, another large chateau built by the French Renaissance equivalent of a Wall Street investment banker in the 16th century.
This one was built around an old mill on the river Loire. Later it was extended to the other side of the river to facilitate hunting on that side, then the chateau was built up over the bridge. A more extensive discussion on Wikipedia is found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teau_de_Chenonceau
We wandered around the chateau and took lots of pictures,
then we were back on the bus to go to Chinon. On the way to Chinon we stopped when we saw a huge sunflower field. Our driver Philippe managed to get the bus off the road and onto a side road that allowed us to get out and take some pictures. We took some pictures of Susan’s buddy Kelsey,
then she took some of us.
We drove on to Chinon
and checked into the Hotel Diderot run by Laurent and his sisters.
Our room is smaller than in Paris but much better laid out. We took a brief orientation walk with Rolinka, then went to our restaurant for the first night dinner. Rick Steves has figured out that when we go to a new town it is hard for the guests to decide where to eat, so he arranges for a dinner the first night.
We ate at the Oceanic Restaurant
in what was described as a typical French dinner.
I had a salmon starter, then a fish entrée and an excellent dessert. Susan had a different entrée
and a very different dessert—hers was a huge cotton candy like confectionary with strawberries underneath.
A special treat at the dinner was a visit by the man himself, Rick Steves, who happened to be in town while we were there.