Chenonceaux Travel Blog› entry 5 of 12 › view all entries
We had only a day & a half to spend in the Loire Valley. So we took the train from Pontorson to Tours which seemed like a good central location. Tours was not a very interesting town to say the least. It's a university city full of shopping arcades but not much else. However we were able to find a "Mexican-style" restaurant just across from the gare. The name of this restaurant is El Rancho. A very humorous experience! A side note - three of us are vegetarians & we had a rough time with French cuisine. So at this point in our journey, we were desperate for beans & veggies. So we ventured into El Rancho hoping that we could find a taste from home. Well, one should not venture into a Mexican restaurant in the middle of France! They served us blue margaritas (not sure if there was any tequila in these drinks at all), burritos that had maybe 3 beans in them, and brown salsa.
We took a shuttle tour of two chateaus in the area: Chenonceau & Amboise.
The Chateau de Chenonceau, near the small village of Chenonceaux was built on the site of an old mill on the River Cher, sometime in the 11th century. Chenonceau was once the home of Catherine de Medici & her husband King Henri II. Originally Henri gave the chateau to his mistress Diane de Poitiers, but Catherine took it back after Henri's death.
Next stop was Amboise. The famous chateau where Leonardo da Vinci is buried. King Francois I invited Leonardo to Château Amboise in December 1515 and lived and worked in the nearby Clos Luce, connected to the château by an underground passage. Tourists are told that he is buried in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert.
The town of Amboise is quite charming as well. A word of advice, you can take a train to both chateaus instead of taking a tour bus. Tour guides do not allow enough time to see everything and are rather rushed. We spent a total of 1.5 hours seeing both chateaus. Not really worth the money.
Something else worth mentioning - Troglodyte caves! On our way back to Tours, we passed by an area full of troglodyte caves that are used as wine cellars, mushroom farms (champignon), housing, hotels, restaurants, etc. And they are directly across from the Loire river. I'm not sure of the name of this town or towns, but it looked really interesting. Apparently there are tons of troglodyte villages in the Loire valley or Touraine area. Here's a good link that can tell you more about where to find these villages: http://www.tourism-touraine.com/GB_en/decouvrir/page.php?id_noeud=114&id_noeud2=150
I'm dying to go back to visit the troglodyte villages. If only I knew about them beforehand. Unfortunately we were on a schedule.