More Chateaux and A Quick Trip to Bordeaux

By Blonde Bowhemian - September 29, 2015


I may have yet to travel much outside of France, but within France? I'm making my mark.

This past Saturday we had a group excursion to the nearby town of Amboise, a little over thirty minutes away. Although we had a prep session the day before, we all know how skilled I am at tuning out anything history-related so I really didn't know what to expect besides that we were going to see yet another chateau as well as the house of Leonardo Da Vinci. Needless to say I rolled out of bed rather reluctantly Saturday morning and made my way to the bus at 9:45.

After a short drive we arrived at a beautiful town right on the Loire River with a fortress/chateau high above it. We got a quick glimpse of the quaint village and were informed of an amazing chocolate shop (priorities, priorities) as we trekked our way up the hill to the chateau. Luckily, at least in my opinion, only 20 percent of the chateau remains today because the other 80 percent was taken down and repurposed (I think?? Again, not good with history). As a result, there wasn't a whole lot to see so the tour was rather quick tgod, tgod. And, we got a private tour which was also a saving grace because - surprise surprise! - we saw our Viking River Cruise friends who were so hard of hearing they walked around with headphones in that were connected to their tour guide's microphone... serious #oldpeopleproblems. But, the chateau did have some killer views of the city and the river and the grounds were beautifully manicured. Plus, we saw a small chapel where Da Vinci is buried. But, that's not scientifically proven so I guess everyone's just going with it because it sounds cool and impressive. I'm not going to question it.
just 1/5 of what it was... 
royal views
hey Leo
Afterwards, we had some free time to explore and eat so, in another shocking turn of events, after we finished eating our lunches we went straight to the chocolate store. Good? Yes. Beyond expensive? Yes. I got a giant bear-shaped chocolate covered marshmallow that was definitely worth the multiple euros. Next stop was some beyond-necessary coffee and then we wandered around the village. Most of the stores were closed for some reason so that was kind of annoying but we enjoyed window shopping.
Cadet Kelly
chocolate shop on the right
peep the VRC people in the back                                        
After meeting up again, we began our walk to Clos Lucé, the house that some king had built for Da Vinci so he would come live in France. All that effort for Da Vinci to only live there two years and then pass away... whoops. The house was nice and small aka a mansion by today's standards but a cute little country cottage by a king's standards. We walked around, saw a bunch of small-scale versions of his inventions in the basement, didn't even pretend to understand them, and then explored the immense grounds. They also had life-sized replicas of his inventions on the grounds which were fun to play with even if we were too heavy for the tank to move and made all of the little kids annoyed.
quaint, right?
not a bad place to spend the end of your life
the grass is always greener...when you're not allowed to walk on it
The last stop of the day, which was unbeknownst to us, was a glass-blowing factory built into a rock cliff. Although it was approximately 5000 degrees in the cave-thing (the technical term), we got to watch a glass blower make a vase (? unclear) which was really really cool. Afterwards, we explored the showroom but then our VRC friends showed up and took over so we made a run for it. We finally returned home around 6pm only for me to realize I forgot my key. My host parents were out and so I was homeless until a little after 8, but lucky enough to have friends to foster me for those two hours :)
why it's called glass blowing 
vase?
Sunday morning, I was up at 6:30 to head down to Bordeaux. My friend Katie and I took a 7:30 train from Tours and arrived in Bordeaux at 10:30. We knew we wanted to do some kind of wine tour because it'd be criminal not to, but that was pretty much all we had planned. So, we got off the train, figured out the tram system and headed to the tourist office for some help. We basically got laughed at for saying we wanted to do a wine tour the day of, so we settled for trying to do a wine tasting in the city. The brochure said you didn't need a reservation but the place closed at 1:30 on Sundays, so we attempted to take the tram back across the city to the wine tasting. Being our tourist selves, we couldn't figure out which tram to take and crossed from one side of the tracks to the other at least three times before some woman took pity on us and helped us out.

We finally got to the wine tasting only for it to be closed with a sign on the door saying to go to another location. We found that place, went inside and literally thought we were in someone's apartment. We asked the guy if we could do a wine tasting and he told us they were doing a brunch at the moment and to come back at 2:00. I looked at him beyond confused and showed him his own brochure that said they closed at 1:30. Casually, he responded that they had changed their hours and just didn't think to change the brochure. Typical Europeans.

We made a reservation for 2:00, and went off to grab a very expensive but nice lunch outside in a large square. We then headed back to the apartment? wine place? don't know what to call it. Turns out, we got a private tasting of 4 wines in wine glasses approximately the size of our heads. We learned a lot, drank a lot, and enjoyed ourselves a lot. But, we didn't pay a lot. All of that for only 12,90 Euro. So, if you're ever in Bordeaux, do a wine tasting at Be The Wine! Your head might regret it, but your wallet won't.

We then booked it to the port where we had a 3:30 boat tour of Bordeaux and its many bridges. Again, we were definitely the youngest people on the boat by 40 years. And the tour guide said everything in French then repeated it in English so it was twice as fun. An hour and a half of this was a little much and I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a nice nap on the boat, but it was cool to see Bordeaux from another perspective when I wasn't too busy seeing the back of my eyelids.
they promised the water isn't dirty...
:)
the future "wine city" of Bordeaux...I'll be back for that
miroir d'eau (mirror of water) 
We finished the tour at 5:00, and headed back to the tourist office for our bus tour of Bordeaux. While waiting for the bus tour we got lured in by a 40(?) year old guy selling candy (I wish I was joking) on the street. He was so excited to talk to Americans and we proceeded to have an entire conversation about how American girls are "bitchy" and "want to call the police" every time a guy tries to flirt with them. This conversation lasted at least 15 minutes because I felt like if I tried to end the conversation I'd look like the "bitchy American girl" on her way to "call the police". I mean, that's exactly who I wanted to be, but my pride kept me standing there, hiding my RBF as best I could. In the end we got a few free roasted peanuts and didn't get kidnapped so it was a win in my book.

But, our good luck ended there. The bus was supposed to be come at 5:45 but, in typical French fashion, they didn't come out and tell us that it had broken down until 6:00. We were exhausted anyways so we got reimbursed and then headed to dinner. We found another adorable square with some guy singing opera and plenty of restaurants with outdoor seating and treated ourselves to a three course meal and some amazing local wine, all for under 20 Euro per person.
cheers to good wine and a good day
highly necessary 
ended the day on a very good note
Then, it was off to the train station for our 8:30 train home. I got home around 11:45 and don't think I'd ever been so happy to see my bed. But, the exhaustion was totally worth the spontaneous Bordeaux trip and I can definitely see why it was voted the best destination in Europe. Every building looked like it belonged at Versailles and it was definitely one of the cleanest cities I've ever been in. Plus, the wine. That's all that really matters.

Cheers!
Joanna

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