Salamanders and sips

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In Chateau d’Amboise

AGMA’s so on top of things.

I’ve been back from my trip over 2 weeks and I’m just now getting around to writing about the last week and a half of our adventure.

Top notch travel blogger here.

Our last 10 days in France can be summed up as a festival of the nectar of Vitis vinifera.

And Francis I.

AGMA can’t say I’d ever heard of Francis I (1494-1547) before last month, but if you go into any of the grand chateaus in the Loire Valley, you’ll see his salamanders everywhere.

Yeah. Salamanders. With little crowns.

WTF??

Francis I was the first king of France with absolute power, and ruled from 1515 to 1547. And everybody knows every king with absolute power needs a symbol he can slather all over his castles just in case people don’t know they belong to him.

Evidently back in the day, folks thought salamanders were magical creatures able to live in and use fire for their own purposes. They were a symbol of power, mystery and purity. I guess Francis liked that ‘cause all the chateaus we visited were dripping with salamanders.

With little crowns.

Not having Instagram or Twitter back then – they were sooooo lucky – Francis I had to travel around France with his entourage giving folks some face time so everybody knew that he was THE king.

It’s good to be the king.

He seemed to have spent an inordinate amount of time in the Loire Valley. But of course it was the Beverly Hills 90210 of the time. It was the epicenter of chic where all of the beautiful and powerful people in France hung out.

Paris was so 1400’s…

We visited 7 chateau’s in the Loire – Chenonceau, Gaillard, Amboise, du Close Luce, d’Azay-le-Rideau, Blois, and the grand Chambord. Easy for me to say. They were all either built by Francis or “borrowed” by Francis.

Like I said, it’s good to be the king.

Good Lord, AGMA can’t clean our townhouse. Chambord alone would have done me in…

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Honey, can you grab the vacuum cleaner and a mop?

Aside from the yugely biggly chateaus, there was wine in the Loire. Lots of wine. While not as famous as Bordeaux and Burgundy, the Loire Valley produces some lovely, affordable wines. Both red and white.

We visited Vouvray twice for “tastings”.

“Tastings” is code for “they give you enough wine to get you well on your way.”

That’s what I’m takin’ about!  A “tasting” in Burgundy.

We stayed at an AirB&B in Amboise during our visit to the Loire Valley. Our host was the fabulous Christine who spoke wonderful English. Here is the link to our room. Everything in Amboise was walkable from her home and she served a uber-yummy breakfast in the morning with home-made crepes and preserves. It was a great value for the money.

We got very, very serious about wine after we left the Loire. We spent 3 days in Burgundy and then 2 days in the Champagne region.

More tastings! AGMA loved me my “tastings”!

Burgundy was really interesting if you are a oenophilia. Yeah, I said it. Oenophilia.

It was fascinating learning about all of the wine “rules” there. And there are a lot of rules. Which is why wines from this area are $$. Actually, they are $$$. And some are even $$$$.

Hubs is a pretty steady guy and doesn’t get excited by much. But you should have seen him when we drove through the unassuming looking Vosne-Romanee vineyards. He was as excited as tRump with a bag of Cheetos in a spray tan booth watching Fox and Friends.

The vineyards looked like the vineyards we saw around Saint Emilion and the Medoc and in other areas of Burgundy.

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Evidently they’re not.

The 6 Grand Cru vineyards in this area only total a mere 67 acres. But most of the bottles of wine produced from these vineyards are all pre-sold starting at $1000 and up. Depending on the location of the vineyard, the year, the producer and the harvest “rules”, prices can go up into the 10’s of thousands.

In case you’re wondering, AGMA did not bring a bottle of this particular wine home.

Burgundy was actually kind of a pricey area. For us, it was real pricey. Hubs somehow lost his wallet (the jury is still out on how it happened…) He was panicked. Naturally.

But of course AGMA had my wits about me. I went to the TI (Tourist Information Office) across the street from the last place he had it, and we were in luck.

Sort of.

Yes, they had his wallet. Yes, it had all his credit cards and ID and other cards in it.

No, there wasn’t any money in it. To the tune of about $300.

Ouch.

Having learned my lesson last summer in stealth purse protection when my purse got stolen in Barcelona (it was recovered in tact from the hapless lady thieves), I would say Hubs learned his lesson in stealth wallet protection. An expensive lesson.

Ouch.

In Burgundy, we stayed in Beaune which was brilliant. Our hotel, the Brit Hotel Au Grand Saint Jean, was a great value (for the area) in a fabulous location. Easy walking distance to all of Beaune and some fabulous restaurants.

After Burgundy, we drove north. Our next stop was Reims.

Finally, AGMA was headed to the promise land…

OMG – CHAMPAGNE!!

But this post is getting too long and I have a lot to say about our last 4 days in France, sooooo…..

Meet me here next week.

Same time, same place.

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “Salamanders and sips

    • And the weird thing is, if you bought a wine made from grapes grown in the plot right next to it, the price would be waayy lower. Go figure!

      And I guess they were all a bit scared of salamanders back in the day. They would throw a log on the fire and the salamander that had been living in the rotted wood would scurry out. From that they got that salamanders were “immune” to fire and magical. However, I can’t believe that a few of them did become crispy salamanders before they made it out of the fire. Ha!

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    • Yes! It WAS cool and reminded me of the one at the Biltmore (which I guess was supposed to be fashioned after Blois) however, the double helix one at Chambord won the prize! It was awesome! Supposedly designed by Leonardo da Vinci when he was living in Amboise (last 3 years of his life) thanks to the generosity of – who else – Francis I! That guy was everywhere!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Not to outdo Hubs but … Jim got his pocket picked while in Paris. Because he never listens to me and chose to think his money would be better in his front pocket rather than in our apartment, he lost $500 U.S., and 350 Euro, plus his two credit cards. They left his debit card in the wallet, which they replaced BACK in his pocket after taking what they wanted. Now those were some skilled pick pockets!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Okay – those were some amazing pick pockets! And you had a triple OUCH!!

      Hubs was so mad that he had his US $$ (about $200) in his wallet. He normally leaves it in a “secret place” in his suitcase (or in the hotel safe if there is one). I have encouraged him in the past to use a money belt or at the very least zip his wallet up in his travel pants, but what do I know? Evidently more than him… His wallet was carefully zipped up the rest of the trip. 😉

      He was sitting on a mobility scooter (he has a walking disability) the whole morning so a pickpocket would have had to bend over to pull Hubs wallet out which would have been pretty obvious. We think that him bouncing over cobblestones on his scooter caused his walled to bounce out of his front pocket, and from then it was easy pickins’. We were just grateful that somebody turned it into the TI and he got all of his cards back!

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