Bonjour mes amis!
It’s still a cold mix of weather in the East Coast, so as I await to finally emerge into spring temperatures, clothes, and even food, I reminisce about all of the great places I’ve traveled to.
And this week, I channel: Amboise, France!
If you have visited Paris, Amboise is a different experience. It is no where nearly as big as Paris, and it’s peaceful with a picturesque view of suburban France.
Back in summer 2017, I went to Amboise to study French there for two weeks. I studied at a school called Eurocentres, which has schools all around the world for students to learn different languages. I stayed with a residential family who spoke no other language than French, so I was forced into a complete French immersion. Google Translate helped me a lot!
Upon my two weeks, I got my afternoons off from school to walk the city, eat a bunch of French food, and tour all of the hidden, historical features of the town.
Here are distinct features about Amboise that you get nowhere else in France:
The Château d’Amboise
“Château” translates to castle in French. The Château d’Amboise was a castle where an abundant amount of famous French and English royalty lived. Catherine de Medici even lived there at one point.
The best view of the city is at the top of the castle. In addition to its large gardens and green fields, the top offers a stunning view of the Loire river that runs through Amboise.
Don’t forget to visit the top! The walk up is so worth it! And, if you travel to Amboise during their “Fête de la Musique” (“musical festival” in French), the stairs to the right of the castle give you the best view of the action.
Experience the Medieval Town
Amboise is a city that dates back to medieval times. Downtown is car-free and pedestrians can roam around the narrow, but flourishing streets lined with cafes, boutiques, pastry shops, and many more, including some shops that specialize in a specialty craft. For example, there was a soap shop right in front of one of the Churches in the city, where they carved soap into beautiful designs, like flowers, decorations, etc.
I use to eat lunch everyday in town! I would pick up a sandwich called a croque-monsieur (Ham and cheese melt) at an orange boulangerie. They also had really good coconut ice cream. By the way, Carrefour, a supermarket brand in France, became my best friend. Anytime I needed something, Carrefour was there for me.
Travel to other cities close by
Amboise is in a great location; it’s near many famous castles, like Chenonceau, and it’s train station can send you up to Paris and back.
Upon my time in Amboise, I visited neighboring cities in Blois and Tours. Blois had it’s own vibe. The city had this amazing castle that had all sorts of unique paintings. Conveniently, I finished a course in European history prior to my visit, so I actually understood a lot of the monumental paintings and history behind the castles.
The Château de Chenonceau resembled a fairytale castle with luxurious gardens and a one of a kind layout. The castle is built on top of a river, almost like a castle, and boats can pass underneath the castle.
Upon my second visit to Chenonceau, I arrived by boat and got to see the castle from a different point of view.
You can explore the inside, as well. There’s access to nearly all of the rooms, and decorous paintings and decadent sculptures line all aspects of the castle. If you roam to the very top, you will reach a balcony that overlooks the front of the property.
You can also walk the gardens! The property is large, so if you wanted to cover all of its gardens, I would recommend giving yourself a sufficient amount of time, like two to three hours at the property. And, if you’re looking for great wedding photos- you’ve found the place!
Visit Leonardo da Vinci’s Home
The infamous Leonardo da Vinci lived in Amboise. His home is known as Close Lucé, or rather, Château du Close Lucé. The home is open for tourists, and during the summer, the gardens make for a really nice walk- especially because there’s a lot of shade from all the trees.
Inside of the house, all of Da Vinci’s works, paintings, models, and blueprints are displayed. At the bottom level, children can experiment with playful models of Da Vinci’s works. The gardens also contain a lot of the sculptures and models that he made himself.
The house is set farther away from the maintain town where the Château d’Amboise rests, but if you happen to get hungry at the place, there’s a restaurant at the end of home. There’s a lot of walking, especially if you decide to see the gardens, but it’s definitely worth doing.
Take a nice break
Amboise was a great escape from a very tourist-filled, chaotic city. Everyday was always very peaceful, and the residents are friendly and happy to help with directions. I highly recommend coming here, both to visit the historic castles and to study abroad. Amboise was a great way to learn the French language.
I wrapped up my two weeks in France with a night in Paris. The city was really lively, as it usually is. Paris happened to be celebrating its success in getting 2024 Olympic Games to be in Paris, so the city was having a lot of fun partying. Hence, the enormous amount of traffic I encountered.
Something really funny happened to me on the Seine River in Paris; I went one of the those dinner cruises that tours the river at night. We were eating on the boat, and all of the sudden, this other loud boat comes by, and there waves Emmanuel Macron! I coincidentally happened to see the President of France.
I hope you are motivated to travel- especially to Amboise! Those were some of the best two weeks of my life, and my French, although certainly not perfect, definitely improved. A big thanks to Google Translate for conjugating some irregular verbs, too. And a big shoutout to all of my friends who went to Amboise and studied there with me!!
Have a great week! If you are on the East Coast- stay warm!