Europe 2012: Day 32, Loire Valley Part 1, The Market and the Chateaux


Storm clouds over Amboise, France. If we waited for good weather, we would never leave the hotel room!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Woke up at 8am for breakfast.   It was cloudy.  It rained all last night.  This was a wet and loud storm, complete with thunder and lightning.  We were told by our French hosts that the storm knocked out the wireless satellite service in the area.  Paris would be without cell phone service all day.

We are on our own today.   It is Sunday and organized tours do not run.  Why not??  Because it’s Sunday!    However, there are a couple of sights to see so we will not be bored.

First stop was the Sunday Market, as suggested by Sylvie.   She told us the this is a “classic French market.”  This is a large outdoor market by the River Loire.   It includes fresh fruits and vegetables, cooked food (like roasted chicken and sausages), livestock (live chickens and ducks), and clothing and home goods.   Tour buses actually stop here — it is that much of an event in this town.

Live chickens! Buy them to raise or eat. (Amboise, France)

Pretty woven bags! (Amboise, France)

Freshly baked breads. (Amboise, France)

Yummy olives! I love the colors! (Amboise, France)

Roasted chickens! Notice the two ovens in back — there were at least three more ovens like these turning out perfectly roasted chickens. The smell is amazingly good! (Amboise, France)

Paella is a favorite street food in French markets. It is rice, chicken, sausage, and seafood in a spicy broth. This pan is almost as big as me! (Amboise, France)

I love quilts! These are not of the best quality but they are still beautiful! (Amboise, France)

It was crowded, as expected.  It was also a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach!   We bought fruit; apricots, nectarines, peaches, and apples – we have become so predictable!  We headed back to the B&B because it looked like it would rain.

At noon, we had lunch in our room — fruit and the remains of our ham and cheese sandwich from the day before.   My DH wrote emails to try to arrange for tours at our next stop.  I worked on the blog.  My DH is doing an excellent job of keeping on top of our travel requirements.  Unfortunately, it takes a lot of his time and effort and he worries about possible disaster.  Poor internet access does not help matters and only adds to his worry and anxiety.

As much as it threatened to rain, it did not.   A couple of hours later, the sun was out and we set out to visit the Chateau d’Amboise.  This château was once the  favorite royal residence of the Kings of France.  Most of the rooms are empty but some have been furnished to reflect its time as a royal residence.

Chateau Amboise, front (Amboise, France)

Chateau Amboise, back garden (Amboise, France)

Oh no. Now would be a good time for some tea. (Amboise, France)

At the foot of the château was Cafe Bigot – a patisserie known for its chocolate!   We found a table under the awning.  I ordered a tea with lemon, my DH ordered an apple tart (they were all out of their signature chocolate dessert – damn tourists!).   While we enjoyed our snack, it rained – a small brief shower.

I like this tradition of tea in the afternoon! It also gives my DH a chance to watch people go by — he likes that! (Amboise, France)

Waiting for the sun to come out at Cafe Bigot. (Amboise, France)

When the sun came out again, we followed the main street to Chateau du Clos Luce, the last home of Leonardo DeVinci.   Compared to the Chateau Amboise, this was a modest home with a huge park.  Here, Leonardo was able to focus on his art and scientific interests while the King of France paid for his every expense.   Apparently, Leonardo and King Francois were good friends.  This Chateau was the King’s gift to Leonardo.

Chateau de Clos last home of Leonardo DeVinci (Amboise, France)

Stop taking my picture!

Getting a few ideas for decorating my DH’s study — he’s a Renaissance kind of guy too. (Amboise, France)

This morning, another couple at our B&B  highly recommended the restaurant L’Epicerie  so we decided to give it a try.   It was right down the street from Leo’s place.   This is another fancy French restaurant but they did not mind our casual attire.   This restaurant offered a number of prix-fixe menus – four, five, or six courses.   We opted for the four course menu – a starter, an entrée, a cheese plate, and a dessert  Here is what we had and what we thought of our choices:

Anna Anna’s DH
Starter Pork Terrine with Salad – excellent on toast! Snails with Potato Salad – He told me the snails were very good, the potato salad a bit heavy.
Entrée Tuna Steak with basil Pasta.  Pasta was yummy but the fish had too much oil for my taste. Rump Roast with a Gorgonzola Cheese sauce.  Tender meat with a rich and yummy sauce!
Cheese Three cheeses – goat, Brie, and another mild cow’s milk cheese that I cannot pronounce or write even if I could remember it.  All were excellent with French bread and a nice crisp white wine! Three cheeses – goat, Brie, and another mild cow’s milk cheese that I cannot pronounce or write even if I could remember it.   All were excellent with the French bread.  My DH does not drink wine.
Dessert Three sorbest – Black Currant, Pear, and Peach.  Intense color and flavor!  Nice, light, and refreshing! Three sorbets – Black Currant, Pear, and Peach.  Intense color and flavor!  Nice, light, and refreshing!

We were stuffed!   We rolled back to the B&B and straight into bed.

Quote of the day:  “Well …. it was sunny.” – MY DH as we walked to the Sunday market.

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