Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Paris Day 5

  • Paris was fantastic but today we were eager to get out of the city. The Versailles and chocolate let downs probably had something to do with it, but we were also running out of things to do to keep us entertained.
  • We took a train to Tours, France (in fact I think it was my first time on one of these high-speed trains ... pretty cool but my ears did keep popping and I'm not sure why?) Tours is south of Paris in the Loire River valley which they call the "Garden of France". 
  • Since we were going away from the city and good public transportation, we needed to rent a car. We got a Renault Megane ... it actually was a pretty good, little car. It was a 4-door coupe, 6-speed manual, and ran on diesel. It was fun and easy to drive, plus being out in the country most of the time we didn't run into any major issues or traffic. Thankfully France drives on the "normal" side of the road (the right side). The streets were small and narrow so that was definitely a change. But we rented a Garmin from the rental company and it was the best money we spent on this entire vacation! It saved us a lot of time and effort. We probably could have found our way around without it but it would have been significantly more difficult.
  • Our first stop was Chateau de Chambord. It was a huge castle! It was built in the country and was used mostly as a hunting lodge for the king. It was your typical big drafty castle, but it was very impressive! In fact you've probably heard of the Liqueur called Chambord ... apparently it was inspired by something that was produced on the premises. 
  • As we were leaving Chambord and heading to our hotel to check in, I got pulled over by the police. That was an interesting experience. Not sure what I did. He didn't speak much English, but once he saw I was a tourist and was driving a rental he told me to leave. I should try that when I get pulled over at home.
  • We checked into our hotel in Amboise. It was an old house converted into a hotel. For half the cost of our hotel in Paris we had a sitting room, a big bedroom overlooking the river and Chateau de Amboise, and a huge bathroom. I never thought I'd see my wife smile again after the chocolate and Versailles mishap, but she loved this place so much she wouldn't stop smiling! She wished we had come here sooner. Very friendly staff also. Just an overall great place.
  • Chateau Amboise was much smaller than Chambord but still very pretty. What's nuts is the amount of time and money spent by these old French royalty to build these places (as if one castle was enough). Oh yea, and Leonardo Da Vinci is buried at Chateau Amboise. Which is mildly ironic because I've been reading Dan Brown's other book (Angel's and Demon's) while on this vacation. 

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