Castles of the Loire Valley

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Over the summer, my French teacher told me about the Loire Valley and what a great area it was to visit.  What she described (castle touring, wine tasting, fine dining) sounded great, but not especially kid friendly.  Flash forward to fall break this year and we were looking for inspiration for where to go.  I came across an article for great European destinations in the fall and the Loire region was high on the list.  I investigated a bit and found some things that sounded entertaining for the kids too and off we went.

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We found an apartment on VRBO in the pretty little town of Amboise with this lovely view.  The apartment was on a little island just a short walk to the center of town.  The kids were excited to find a playground just down our street!

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Overall, the accommodations were great and we would highly recommend the apartment.  Perfect location and a lovely host.

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The boys were excited to spot the first castle of the trip just through our window!  Maybe they wouldn’t have been quite so excited if they knew how many castles we had in store for them to see!

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The drive was about 5 1/2 hours and we stopped for a long lunch, so by the time we arrived on Saturday everyone was tired!  We checked out the playground, walked around town, and picked up some pizzas for dinner back at the apartment.

Unfortunately on Sunday, Lukasz and Jonah both woke up feeling pretty under the weather.  After a slow start, we wandered through the great Sunday market to see what they had to offer and pick up some hot chocolates and croissants (and of course some bread and cheese-it’s France after all!).  No one was feeling up for too much after that, so we decided to stay close and visit the last home of Leonardo da Vinci, Clos Luce.

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The manor was furnished nicely with furniture and art from that time period and in the basement, there was a large display with models and drawings for different inventions that Da Vinci had been working on during the last years of his life at the manor.  Jonah was very into all of these inventions.  The place was really great for children!  Outside in the very large gardens, the drawings and models had been brought to life including a large rotating tank that you could climb inside and spin, different bridges to walk across, a screw for draining water out of the pond, paddle boats, and even life preservers which were also an invention by da Vinci!  There was also a playground, gardens, and a couple of restaurants.

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We had some omelets and crepes at the restaurant and headed back to the apartment for a long nap time for everyone.  After some rest, the guys were feeling quite a bit better so we went to tour our first castle, Chenonceau.

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This might have been my favorite castle, but it’s really hard to pick just one!  One of the interesting things about this chateau is that it was designed by women, including Catherine of Medici who added the gallery over the river to pay homage to her native city of Florence.

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I loved the real fires burning in many of the rooms.  It made it feel like we had stepped back in time and the owners might be returning any minute!

Chenonceau was probably the best castle for children.  There was a playground, gardens, a labyrinth, and some animals.  In the summer you can even rent boats and paddle around the castle-how fun!

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We had a low key evening at the apartment and went to bed with fingers crossed that everyone would wake up feeling healthy!  Despite the illness setback, our first two days were a success.  I will save the rest of the trip for the next post!

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