The weekend of my husband’s birthday, our friends took the train from Paris to join us for a celebration in Amboise. They arrived early on Friday, so we were able to explore the pretty gardens around our vacation rental as well as the sights of Amboise.
We wandered among pedestrian lanes and quaint boutiques, beneath the 11th-century Château d’ Amboise and up rue Victor Hugo to Clos Lucé, the final home of Leonardo da Vinci. It was a pleasant and interesting walk past troglodyte caves and half-timbered homes, leaning precariously under the considerable weight of age.
We managed to take in quite a bit of the countryside during their visit – to see the light show at Château de Chambord, to visit the Abbey at Pontlevoy and picnic by the Loire. Our friends are much like us, enjoying on-the-go moments as much as quiet walks and riverside pique-niques.
Our birthday celebration on Saturday produced several memorable moments. Early in the day, Philippe and I huddled over a restaurant guide to choose the perfect destination for our dinner. We reduced the selection to two – a chateau restaurant with a la carte choices or a set menu, in what has been referred to as the “best restaurant in Amboise”. While I do have an adventurous palate, I thought dining outside at the latter would be a wonderful experience; and surely I could trust the chef’s menu choices.
We arrived at a beautiful, stately home that serves as a small hotel and restaurant. It is set apart from the city in a lovely, walled garden with the magnificent Château d’Amboise as a backdrop. Atmosphere – I love it! We were seated outside under the stars at a table set for royalty – sparkling crystal and charger plates, crisp linens and little pebbles strewn here and there on the table to glisten in the candlelight.
After wine was presented, our waiter described the two set menus – vegetarian and traditional. Remember, I’m not adventurous, and something on the traditional menu was not appealing. The men opted for traditional, the ladies vegetarian.