Travel with a mate is an online magazine of great travel advice, destination reviews and travel observations from around the world. The website was co-founded by Matt and Deborah Preston. Two energetic travel addicts who love to share their experiences with the world and are dedicated to helping our contributors do the same! Today, they tell us more about the Parc du Val de Loire in the center of France.
No matter how long your holiday at the Camping Parc du Val de Loire you’ll leave wanting more. The scope and quality of the array of choices for refreshing your body, mind and soul makes it impossible to imagine anyone of any age, regardless of interests (or lack thereof), having a listless moment.
Of course, there are the pools and sports when you want to be active, bikes and kayaks when you want to explore, and entertainment and Jacuzzi when you want to relax. You can have the holiday of a lifetime right there in the village. But what if wanderlust beckons you? You must then indulge it and set out to experience the magic of the Loire Valley. And I do not use the word “magic” loosely.
La Maison de la Magie Robert-Houdin in Blois
Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin, born in Blois in 1805, is considered the father of modern magic. In this museum, you will learn about Robert-Houdin, as magician, watchmaker and scientist, though not only the items that he devised but also the items that he collected. There is a rotunda dedicated to the unexpectedly fascinating history of magic with artefacts dating from the first century BCE. Another room is dedicated to the “King of Escape,” Harry Houdini (Eric Weiss). You will enter the ultimate “hall of mirrors,” where you will feel at their mercy with the inverted perspectives and false passageways. Then move on to be transfixed by the vagaries of the magical arts of the Far East. In the theatre, you will be amazed by the best and brightest of France’s young magicians as well as by renowned magicians from around the world. A final note: Watch out for the six-headed dragon! I’ll say no more.
The Château du Clos Lucé in Amboise
Visit the Renaissance world in Leonardo da Vinci’s final home where, even in his dotage, he continued to create. Imagine him gazing pensively at the Château Royal d’Amboise from his bedchamber, envisioning his next painting or invention in his workshop and sitting contentedly in his library amongst his ancient texts and curious cabinet of curiosities. There are the unchanged kitchen and great room, frescoes on the chapel wall and lavish tapestries.
Continue on to the exquisitely designed garden. More than a garden really, with the caves, streams, waterfalls and a pond framed by pine trees and Italian cypresses that have been standing sentry for hundreds of years and Madonna lilies, horned violets and yellow irises punctuating the scene with vibrant color. As you meander through, you will again be met by examples of da Vinci’s genius displayed in his art and engineering works.
Les Caves de Vouvray
Fifteen minutes from Amboise, you can sample the region’s wine and tour a troglodyte cave. I know you’re thinking, “A what?” Troglodyte caves are underground tunnels dug into the tufa stone found throughout the valley. Because the temperature remains around 13 degrees Centigrade, they are superb wine cellars. At Les Caves de Vouvray, you have the possibly unique opportunity to sample Loire
Valley sparkling wines from 40 local winemakers. Then be guided through a part of the maze of tunnels lined with countless bottles of wine awaiting their turn to delight.
Chocolaterie – Max Vauché
If you want to add the perfect “cherry” to the top of your perfect day, return to Blois for a tour of the chocolate factory where you will see the raw pods of the cocoa tree turn into the most delicious of candies. There will be samples! Amongst them you might just find that cherry covered in chocolate.