A Quick Travel Guide to Amboise in the Loire Valley

A Quick Travel Guide to Amboise in the Loire Valley

Amboise's lineage of French nobility and Italian artistry make for a fancier-than-usual getaway By: Mindy Poder
<p>Some guestrooms at Le Choiseul face Chateau d'Amboise. // © 2017 Le Choiseul</p><p>Feature image (above): Take a day trip from Paris and tour the...

Some guestrooms at Le Choiseul face Chateau d'Amboise. // © 2017 Le Choiseul

Feature image (above): Take a day trip from Paris and tour the chateaux of the Loire Valley. // © 2017  iStock


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The Loire Valley is a destination in its own right, but some clients might prefer to treat the UNESCO World Heritage Site as a day excursion from Paris due to time constraints.

Though they'll regret the fact that they've condensed their visit once they get a sip of the valley's wines, inhale its food or tour its chateaux (castles), travelers can indeed visit the Loire in one day, thanks to France's high-speed TGV train, which connects Paris to Tours, France, in less than two hours.

Clients can further make the most of their visit by choosing beautiful Amboise, about 20 minutes from Tours, as their home base. After all, Amboise was good enough for French nobility and influential expat artists (including Leonardo da Vinci, who spent his last days here).

Eat
There are a few Michelin stars twinkling around the Loire Valley, but the closest to Amboise is Chateau de Pray, located inside a centuries-old castle hotel that's only a a few minutes' drive from Amboise.

Chef Frederic Brisset's one-Michelin-starred restaurant might be in a castle, but it's a pomp-free zone. Attentive-yet-subtle waitstaff produce an elevated living-room vibe, while the sommelier helps diners match their meals to the perfect Loire local wine, including Vouvray, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume and Chinon. Clients should try one of the region's goat cheeses or spring for any number of other French cheeses. But the real stars are the chef's playful creations. Though the menu changes seasonally, expect beautifully prepared dishes, such as cuttlefish served with a teapot of flavorful broth, slow-roasted guinea fowl with local mushrooms and an unforgettable blackcurrant souffle complemented by blackcurrant sorbet.

www.chateaudepray.fr

Sleep
While I dream of having a friend with a pied-a-terre chateau, the reality is, I don't know any French aristocrats. But luckily, Avanti Destinations, the operator that planned my trip, recommended Le Choiseul, a trio of 16th- and 18th-century houses perfectly poised to face Chateau d'Amboise — which features views of the city as well as da Vinci's final resting place — and the Loire River. Besides the convenient location, Le Choiseul is a memorable part of a Loire Valley retreat thanks to formal French dining at Le 36, period architecture, an outdoor pool and 32 rooms and suites that feature floral motifs. The result, I imagine, is more romantic and regal than crashing at a friend's place could ever be.

www.slh.com 

Play
Depending on how much time clients have, there are many wines to sip, pastries to eat and royal and noble chateaux to tour. Avanti's local DMC, France Intense, can handle any request, maximizing time through its first-name relationships with chateau staff and enthusiastic storytelling. If clients want to see the area's grandest chateau, they'll be taken to Chateau de Chambord, which features a staircase allegedly designed by da Vinci that resembles a double helix. Nearby is the Loire's most visited (and arguably most beautiful) castle, Chateau de Chenonceau, also known as "the ladies' chateau," in reference to the lineage of notable women who lived there. Back in Amboise, clients can visit da Vinci's final home, Chateau du Clos Luce, which also displays his genius inventions. And nearby is Amboise's very own castle, Chateau d'Amboise.

www.avantidestinations.com 
www.france-intense.com

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