Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Things We Never Said Part II

Another event of 2014 was our first ever visit to the chateau of Amboise. This falls into the category of an event because it is something we had never quite managed to do even though we have been visiting Amboise and living in the general area since 2006. Considering that Amboise is the first place that many tourists ask about, that is no mean feat.

The Loire from the chateau of Amboise.
We have always avoided Amboise because we knew it couldn't live up to the hype. For some reason Rick Steves has decided it is the small town, chateau and tourist centre that sets the benchmark for all others. As our experience of Amboise is of an average sort of town except for being overfull of tourists, devoid of restaurants and more than just a wee bit overpriced, we approach all of his pronouncements with some scepticism.

Glass and stone in the chapel in which Leonardo's body might have been reburied.
However, the chateau of Amboise is worth a visit if you're in the area. The views are good, and the chateau itself is an interesting mish-mash of styles and eras. I am not sure I would travel much further than an hour to visit it (and we did think the entry charge was almost as steep as the entry path) but as an afternoon's distraction outside of the main tourist season it did quite nicely.
A la cuisine hier: I needed something quick and easy so I flung together some frozen seafood mix, frozen spinach, garlic flakes, chopped onion, a pinch of chilli, salt and a dash of white wine. I boiled it to thaw the seafood and spinach and drive off some of the liquid then mixed in a good dollop of cream cheese to make a sauce for tagliatelle. I thought it was rather good but Simon thought it was bland.


  1. I think you should buy Simon his own little bottle of Tabasco...
    for those "bland" moments at table!

    And thank you for visiting Amboise for us...
    no need to go then!!

  2. Tim: That's what he did -- dosed it with hot sauce, I think. And I quite like Amboise for a day visit out of season. It's attractive and the chateau is very interesting architecturally.

  3. I'm surprised you haven't had customers insist that they wanted to see Amboise. What will they do when they get back to the U.S. or Canada and someone says to them: "Oh, you went to the Loire Valley! Didn't you just love Amboise?" They'll feel like they missed something spectacular, and they'll start to wonder about their trip overall. One of the things I think I've learned is that when somebody says they've had a great vacation in Paris or wherever, it's never a good idea to start questioning them immediately about what they did or didn't see. Much better to let them tell you and not make them feel cheated because they didn't see something everybody else thinks is amazing...

    It's too bad though that so much of the Château d'Amboise was torn down over the centuries. It must have been an amazing place at one time.

  4. Ken: Clients who are keen to see Amboise generally stay in the town and we encourage them to see the chateau independently and we will pick them up from their accommodation and take them further afield. Negotiating and parking in Amboise is a bit of a nightmare in a Traction so we have on occasion just said 'no, we don't do Amboise'. We often do Amboise as a drive by or a short stop on the island to see the chateau on the skyline across the river.

  5. Your quick pasta sauce sounds delicious to me, it's the kind of thing we make regularly when time is short.
    We often do something similar with smoked salmon trimmings, or lardons and mushrooms, with a good sprinkling of the much derided ready grated parmesan - or freshly grated if we happen to have some in.

  6. Jean: smoked salmon trimmings are dashed useful aren't they.

  7. Dauphinoise de saumon fumé, celeri-rave et pommes de terre Red Duke of York - fabulous and no faffing, just slice and stack! I used some celeriac I'd prepared earlier and frozen, so it was very quick.

    I'm not a great one for chateaux where it's just living accommodation - I need a garden (Villandry) or really special things to see (Candé). Amboise doesn't appeal much. Instad, I'd like to visit Le Clos Lucé in Amboise to see the working models of Leonardo's designs, as realised with IBM's assistance.

  8. PG: The dauphinoise sounds like a nice twist on the idea.

    As you know we love Candé, but I can't say the same about Clos Lucé. I'm afraid they take a miniscule amount of Leonardo and stretch him a veeeeeeeeery long way.

  9. You Amboise vignette made me smile. When we were driving across India in the 70s (hippies) we almost decided to avoid the Taj Mahal because of the hype; how could it be as wonderful as all that? We arrived in the late afternoon of the full moon when the palace had closed, the caretaker allowed us to park our combi at the main gate and we were able to sit at the end of the pool and watch the moon rise in the company of a few other overlanders. An experience whose memory still makes my heart beat faster after nearly 50 years.

  10. Fran: Ooooooh! You lucky, lucky things!