It’s important to stress that the town we stayed in while we were in the Loire, Amboise, was a party place. Specifically, the King — whose family was from around there — liked to party there. (Although, we discovered later that his favorite wine was an Irancy, from Burgundy, some distance away.) That little Amboise, population a few hundred and a medium-sized château, was party central fact was repeated to us again and again. And punctuated with flames and fireworks, so that we’d know it was true. To say nothing of the dancing peasantry. True, I learned all this at the sound-and-light spectacular that we saw at said château (catch it every weekend! only two-and-a-half hours long! beloved by royalty continent-wide!), but, if the cute little historic city center with a crêpe-and-cocktails place open until 1am was any sign, things hadn’t changed too much in the 400 years since the king was from there.
We stayed in lovely Amboise because it was a cute, centrally-located place from which we could explore the Loire Valley, château central for France. But the city had plenty of charm itself, with old buildings, a pretty river, delicious food, narrow, medieval streets, and a château of its own, on top of a butte that was filled with spooky passages.
Elsewhere, the châteaux were gorgeous. We visited Chenonceaux, famous for being built above a lake, and Ussé, whose white stone turrets inspired the story of Sleeping Beauty. We even stopped by quaint Saché, where Balzac wrote, sitting on a hillside in the middle of nowhere.
Of course, if these places weren’t fancy inside, they’d just call them houses. So you know they had to be filled with the outrageously luxurious stuff that the royalty of the past loved to spend their money on rather than financing an inventor who could discover, say, the steam engine. Behold this finery:
That’s right, in the second shot you can’t tell what’s up and what’s down, there’s so much bling all around. Châteaux are fascinating architecturally like that: I was particularly taken by the staircases. See, when the fancy châteaux of the Loire started being built, the French really only knew how to make spiral staircases. During the big building period, they figured out straight staircases. Iin fact, we saw what might have been the first straight staircase in France!) So I was really taken by the chance to see all these neat staircases:
After driving along twisty, narrow local roads, following ancient tracks, we’d arrive from these castles back at Amboise. Now I should’ve taken a picture of it, but we had an incredible pizza meal while we were there, probably the best pizza we had in France. The French, believe it or not, do love their pizzas, and have a unique and delicious approach to them: a very thin crust, not much cheese, long slices of topping, and an egg on top. Compared to bacon these days, eggs are underrated, and that addition to a pizza really adds some unctuousness. Highly recommended.
Anyway, after the Loire was Burgundy, and, since I didn’t fall behind editing my photos there, you’ve already read about that. But now you’ve seen this, because photos, once (at long last) edited, are for sharing!