Loire bike paths and castles

“Dear Mary, I’m sorry that you left out the window. We were pleased to welcome you.Thank you for your visit.”

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What is going on here? Answer at the end of the post.

Las Chicas spend their final French days in the Loire Valley, exploring the countryside near Blois and Amboise. French food and wine provide delicious sustenance for our forays to castles and gardens and quaint villages. Castles, a.k.a.  Chateaux, are everywhere, and we enjoy views of the Blois Chateau in the evening.

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In Blois, we stay at the B&B of Yvette’s cousin, conveniently located down the road from L’Embarcadere, a riverside restaurant. We eat the best gazpacho in Europe with a surprise roasted red pepper gelato scoop floating in its center. We consume it so fast, we forget to take a photo. Instead, here’s desert: Mousse au chocolat for Mary and Les Mystérieuses for Lisa (coconut, vanilla, and pineapple sorbet, served with rum baba and whipped cream).

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We also drink local rosé, note the Loire River in through the window.

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We rent bikes in Blois and explore the south side of the river along a lovely path, then head into forests and fields and a few quaint villages.

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Mary dominates a short cobbled section of river path.

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Lisa with Loire River and the town of Blois behind her.

On the drive to Amboise, we visit the Chateau Chaumont-sur-Loire and the International Garden Festival.  The Festival theme is Jardins des peches capitaux or Gardens of the Seven Deadly Sins. Sin can be beautiful, ugly and odd.

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Find Mary in this panorama of the ” gluttony”  garden.

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Chickens represent the “greed” of people in this barren garden.  A lush”Eden,” sans chickens, was on the other side of the pond in this garden.

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Volcano in a garden based on a Maori legend of love that turns to jealousy and “Anger.”

Las Chicas also take time to play, posing behind floral dresses at a garden representing “Pride.”

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Lisa explores the inside of the Chateau Chaumont-sur-Loire where Catherine de’Medici lived. Mary remains in the sin gardens.

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View of the Chaumont-sur-Loire from the traditional gardens.

 

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View of the Loire River from the chateau.

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Chapel inside the chateau, from the bedroom balcony of Catherine de’Medici where she attended services.

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Cathy’s bed

We also love the modern art pieces throughout the grounds:

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Untitled, by Patrick Dougherty.

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Image from  psychedelic video playing in the dungeon of a tropical greenhouse.

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Red poles that look like ribbons emerge from this tranquil pond. We walk a narrow wooden path over the water. “Carré & Rond” by Chinese artist, Yu Kongjian.

We also see many French people in stripes:

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Bridge connecting International Garden Festival to the open space and art.

In Amboise, the familiar shell symbol of the Chemin de Saint Jacques (Camino de Santiago de Compostela) points the way.

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Camino shell beneath other “great routes” of Europe markers. image

Chateau Amboise at sunset.

We also visit the last home of Leonardo DaVinci, Chateau du Clos Luce. We check out replicas of his inventions in the gardens. A secret tunnel connected DaVinci’s home and the Chauteau Amboise so the French king, while in residence here, could come have chats with the genius almost every day.

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Well-anchored flying machine.

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Chateau du Clos Luce

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Mary tests the Archimedes screw designed to bring water uphill.

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Ducks in the pond

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Spices used in Leonardo’s kitchen. He was vegetarian!

On another day, another bike ride in the countryside near Amboise, we see some quirky yard decorations:

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A line of teapots on an old stone wall.

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Bike path seed art

VineBike

Vineyards everywhere, we are in France, after all.

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On the last day, we walk at sunset along the Loire River in Amboise.

Answer to first photo riddle: we turned in our keys, then got locked into the B&B by the hosts and the other guests! Fortunately, our room was on the first floor and we could escape.

© 2014 by Lisa Howells and Mary Reynolds. All rights reserved.

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