Friday 9 May - morning visit to Amboise on the banks of the River Loire (see main picture)
Amboise is famous for the Clos Lucé manor house where Leonardo da Vinci lived (and ultimately died) at the invitation of King Francis I of France, whose Château d'Amboise, which dominates the town, is located just 500 metres away. The narrow streets contain some good examples of timbered housing.
Just outside of the city is the Pagode de Chanteloup, a 44 metre tall Chinese Pagoda built in 1775 by the Duke of Choiseul. The Pagoda is seven levels high, with each level slightly smaller than the last one. An interior staircase to reach all levels is open to the public.
On our way to Amboise this morning our bus went over bumps/corrugations in the road - opps that hurt - and a little way down the road the bus's suspension was not working, which meant the bus was low, which made it harder to negotiate the roads. By the time we arrived at Amboise our poor little Le bus was leaning to the left. Our bus driver Christoph was feeling the stress but remained calm and arranged for a 24 hour Mercedes Benz team to come to the bus. This gave us more time in this gorgeous which none of us minded. I love wandering round these medieval towns and as it was located on the River Loire it made it a perfect place to spend the extra time. It's amazing though with only 25 people on the bus and in a large town you run into people from your tour and 8 of us ended up having lunch together - yummy panini, desert and drink all for 6 Euro - bargain !!!
Albatross ended up getting us another bus for the afternoon as our Le bus was going to the doctors LOL and I tell you want - it makes you appreciate our Le bus with the extra leg room and comfy seats as this replacement bus has none do that.
In the afternoon we stopped at Chambord to view the magnificent chateau. This enormous castle was created by King Francois 1 as a hunting lodge within the surrounding grounds, which consists of over 5,000 wooded hectares. It was only a quick 15 minutes here - photo stop only. When you read a tour and what they do I now know the difference between - view, see and visit.
Afternoon break in Blois, known for its historic castle and old town with narrow cobbled streets.
For dinner we were dropped in the medieval town of Tours. Once we stepped off the Le squishy bus we looked up the road and here comes Christoph driving our wonderful Le bus all mended and everyone had smiles on their faces. The market square was a buzz with people and restaurants. After walking around we decided on crepes and we ended up having dinner with Dan and Jane. Wow that dinner time went quick and before we knew it it was time to start our walk back to the bus for the ride back to our "in the country" accommodation.