Loire Valley, France / June 2-5, 2017
Where : The towns of Blois, Amboise, and Pontlevoy (view of Chaumont on the way)
Back in 2010 and 2011 I worked in this part of France, so I already knew the area quite well. As I had made several friends along the way, I thought it would be nice to go back and visit them years later. We spent a long weekend driving around and visiting the towns of Blois and Amboise. For our home base, I stayed in the tiny town of Pontlevoy where I had previoulsly worked. At that time, the abbey was still open and you could visit it. Since then, it has been bought by a new owner and I believe they're doing renovations to re-open at a future date.
Amboise is a very special town because, first of all, it is one of the cutest places you will see, but it is also was home to Leonardo da Vinci. The former residence, Clos Lucé is now a very unique museum and exhibits many of his inventions dispersed throughout the manor grounds. The downtown area has an iconic clock tower with shops and cafés all around. Then there is the centerpiece of the town, the Royal Château of Amboise, high atop a hill. On that hill, there is also a chapel whose face has a sheer drop to the street below. Within that chapel is da Vinci's final resting place, which you can visit.
Blois is a picturesque town situated on the Loire river. If you are lucky enough to be there on a sunny day with blue skies, there are few places prettier than this. It almost looks like something out of a fairy tale. Make sure you visit the Blois cathedral and the Château Royal de Blois while you are there. Almost all of the roads are covered in coblestones, which makes everything sparkle when it rains. Like Amboise, there are lots of great shops and restaurants. If you are staying later at night in Blois, make sure to swing by Ben's Blues Bar and get a beer flambée.