Friday, April 10, 2015

The Loire Valley: A Castle Vacation We'll Remember Forever!

We went on a castle vacation that blew all our minds -- chateaux-hopping across the Loire Valley and finishing the trip off with a 2 1/2-day stay at Disneyland Paris with Poppa and Ning (more on that next)!
We set up camp in the charming Amboise for five days. The night we arrived, we loved watching the kids attack mussels and crepes for dinner. Our first visit was to the Chateau de Chenonceaux, only 11 miles away, which King Henri II gave to his mistress; later seized by his wife, Catherine de' Medici after he died. The kids had a blast running through the gardens and labyrinth!
The next morning was Easter, and thankfully, the bunny found us in central France with Easter baskets. There was only one store in all of Lux that sold plastic eggs -- Rob bought the last three packs, so thankfully, we were able to have an Easter Egg hunt in the beautiful thicket behind our rental home. (And the Easter bunny filled most the eggs with loose the kids had fun money to spend. Of course they got candy too!)
Oh the heartbreak! The little guy isn't quite as fast as his older siblings, who quickly helped him out
Later that morning, we visited the chateau in our little "hometown"....Chateau d'Amboise, where Leonardo da Vinci lived and died. Charlie and John used their allowance to buy swords -- they were the cutest little knights, protecting the castle from attack. Madeline and I had a special mother-daughter moment -- I took her to pick our her very first purse!
Our fearless leader takes us to Chateau d'Amboise
Amboise's Old Town was so charming!
On day three, we visited Chateau de Chambord, which was built as a hunting lodge by the same king who lived in the castle in Amboise. It's the largest castle in the Loire Valley, with 440 rooms, 282 fireplaces and 84 staircases, including a double helix open staircase that we had fun running up and down.
Cheatea de Chambord! A US bomber landed in the lawn during WWII
The size is incredible! To think Francois I only lived their 70 days.
Our last day in Amboise, we visited the Chateau du Clos Lucé, Leondardo da Vinci's home, which turned out to be Rob's favorite! It was set up like a museum where we could study his inventions and paintings -- really fascinating.
Flat Stanley came with us everywhere we went (a school project for Cassidy Brown)
We packed up and headed towards our next destination, with a fabulous stop at the Palace of Versailles! We power walked through the chateau, taking it in at lightening speed with four kids in tow, knowing that we would read about what we saw in more detail once we were home. I may have oversold the Hall of Mirrors....the kids were totally unimpressed. But they loved the gardens, and who wouldn't? Spring has finally broken though the dreary winter rain, and we had the most beautiful weather we've seen since last October.
Versailles!! (Charlie and John are totally over picture-taking)
I think Bitsy's catching her reflection in the Hall of Mirrors
When we come back, we want to rent a golf cart and row boat!
We left Paris to meet Poppa and Ning at the next castle. The Disney Castle in Disneyland Paris! More on that to come....

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