Why the center of France? Well, because I lived there for three months and a half, just with my short weekend to travel, and I wanted to be away from home as much as possible. So what I did? Visit every corner I could.
I was living in Gien, which is a small town known for its ceramics, but with not much to see, honestly. But it was where this trip started. Gien is the banks of Loire river, and all the cities around have a château (palace, or castle), so if you can’t get enough of castles, this is the trip for you.
We had a car and a place to stay at some friend’s house, but for my experience in this region finding a cheap place to sleep isn’t easy, so I would definitely try Couchsurfing.
We drove directly to Amboise, where we stayed. Amboise is a place to go. It’s not very big, one day is enough to see it, but it’s a gorgeous city. What to see and do there?
First of all, walk! It’s a safe place, so you don’t need to stay in the main streets, just follow your instinct and walk. There’s beautiful old houses, wine caves in the rocks, and nice views.
Second, Amboise was the last house of Leonardo Da Vinci, and it’s open for visitors. Don’t lose the opportunity to visit the Château du Clos Lucé. The price is 12€, or 10€ if you’re a student. In case it’s out of your budget just go inside and take a look to the outside garden, there’s also some History information if you’re interested in it.
And the last thing, visit the city Castle, as it says on the website it «has an exceptional collection of Gothic and Renaissance furniture, a reference of the artistic finery in the first French Renaissance. After a visit to the Royal apartments and the imposing Cavalry towers, the visit is prolonged by a stroll in the magnificent panoramic gardens overlooking the Loire river.»
You need to pay attention to the closing hours of the castles, so maybe you want to turn around my itinerary, and start with the visits.
In case you stay the night there, the restaurants are affordable, around 15€ each person, the entire meal with desert. And there’s a nice bar called The Shaker (you’re supposed to try some cocktails there, and the music was quite nice).
I can’t really put it in words, but I felt an unexpected magic in this place. I leave you with some pics.
And remember, if you have something more to tell us about Amboise, leave a comment.