We moved on towards Tours after leaving la Ferte-Vidame. This route was chosen after much deliberation regarding our route – resulting with us eventually, and reluctantly, deciding to abandon our plan to cross the Millau Viaduct (boooo….); mainly due to the seeming lack of campsites open for us on that route 😦
Having decided on Tours, I thought that we might actually stay for 3 nights, having seen a weather forecast suggesting full sun and a high of 21C on Monday. Sadly it turns out that there are several towns called Tours in France, and my app had decided to provide me with information for a different one, rather than the main town of Tours located in the Loire Valley. So we just stayed for 2 nights after all.
We could have hopped on the cycle path and ridden into Tours to visit the old city (about 4 miles away, with the cycle path passing within about 50m from the site – albeit across a busy road); but we didn’t…
Instead we used our 1 full day there to visit the Chateau de Chenonceaux. There are so many chateaux to choose from to visit; we chose this one as it actually spans the river Cher. It turns out that it is actually a Unesco World Heritage Site.
We paid 14 Euros each to visit the castle and gardens – other attractions within the grounds include a maze, wine cellar (caves), gourmet restaurant, tea-room, self-service restaurant, 16th century farm with carriage musuem and donkeys 🙂
But the main draw is without doubt the castle itself, where many rooms are open to the public. One of the interesting facts we learned was that the south entrance to the castle was located in occupied France during the war, whilst the north bank of the river was in free France. Therefore many escapes were affected through the door from the gallery spanning the river into the woods on the other side 🙂
This castle was very much a royal residence, with many changes made by Catherine de Medici after her husband’s, King Henry II’s, death – when she recovered the castle from his mistress, Diane de Poitiers – and assisted 3 of her son’s during their own reigns as king.
Whilst exploring the gallery over the river we spotted several swimmers in the water (it’s November…) – it looked like some sort of race and most of them seems to be in some sort of buoyancy aid that was built into their wet suit!
Well worth a visit if you find yourselves in this area 🙂
After a spot of lunch (I had a ‘fast-food’ crepe 🙂 ) we headed to Amboise, just a few miles away. We managed to park for free a few hundred metres from ‘Clos Luce’, a chateau where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last 3 years of his life. As we walked on towards the town, and the main castle (another royal residence), we passed many ‘troglodyte’ homes built into the hill. Many are still lived in, with some now being let out as gites. Make no mistake these are proper houses!
We were actually looking for the market as we knew that it was supposedly the largest market in the area and ran on Sunday. We couldn’t see any sign of it, but heard a couple of ladies walking towards us speaking English (I think they might have been Canadian), so asked if they had found it – which they had and pointed us in the right direction. We found it but, as is pretty normal for us, we had missed it as all the stalls were packing up by the time we got there!
The old town of Amboise is absolutely delightful; full of medieval buildings it is dominated by the impressive Chateau (more like the castles that we know in the UK – i.e. fortified).
After a wander and a cup of coffee/hot chocolate (I do like the way they do their hot chocolate over here) we eventually found our way back to the car – again it wouldn’t be us if we found our way back without any wrong turns! We had a quick look in the gate of the Clos Luce as we passed by, but our feet were starting to ache by now so we didn’t go in; neither did we visit the 3rd chateau that the town boasts Chateau Gaillard.
So back to the van for some dinner and to decide where to head tomorrow. We eventually decided to go a bit further than usual and have landed a little south of Limoges (having made the mistake of taking the toll road from Tours to Poitiers; at a cost of over 36 Euros…. – but we do finally feel like we’re getting somewhere 🙂
Campsite:- Tours – Les Acacias, la Ville aux Dames