Ah, the Loire Valley! Home to fairy-tale chateaus, quaint French villages and wineries, this fabled area should be on every traveler’s bucket list. We chose Amboise, on the beautiful Loire River, to be “home base” for our visit to the Loire Valley. In this delightful town, there is no better place to stay than Le Vieux Manoir, an enchanting 18th century manor house. When we arrived at Le Vieux Manoir on a Sunday afternoon, we were greeted by our hosts Gloria and Bob Belknap, who were relaxing with some guests in the front garden. We were welcomed like family, and before we even had our bags out of the car we found ourselves seated at the patio table under a cherry tree, enjoying a glass of cold Loire Valley white wine – à votre santé!
Le Vieux Manoir is a gracious country home. The Belknaps, native Californians who ran a successful bed and breakfast in Boston before making the Loire Valley their home, have lovingly restored every room of the beautiful manor. It is filled with comfortable French period pieces, which lend it a unique European charm.
We stayed in the Colette room. Decorated in red and white toile, it is absolutely luxurious, and features a canopy bed that rivaled the comfort of any bed I have ever slept in! The windows of our room looked out over the fountains and beautifully manicured gardens. The large bathroom is ultra modern and stocked with all-natural designer bath products, luxuriously thick linens and a wonderful shower with appreciable water pressure! Our hosts’ attention to detail left us feeling valued and pampered.
Breakfast was served in the home’s garden solarium. Gloria’s culinary talents were evident as we feasted on something different every morning – pastries, fresh fruits and jams, noteworthy cheeses and egg dishes, and lots of coffee and tea.
Bob and Gloria are the complete package; their passion for sharing their love of all things Loire is truly what makes this place unforgettable. Gloria provided us with maps and suggestions for visits to some lesser known chateaus and side trips to remote villages. We really appreciated the chance to get “off the beaten path” and experience places the average tourist may never even hear about. We saw the famous chateaus of the area such as Chenonceau and Chambord. With Gloria’s excellent advice we were able to time our visits properly and take in our surroundings without encountering the sizeable crowds.
For our last night in Amboise, Gloria secured reservations for us at a picturesque restaurant on the river, Auberge de Launay, requesting a private and romantic table. As Gloria’s guests, the manager of this restaurant provided us with extra special attention, and it was a memorable evening. After dinner, we lingered over a cold bottle of Muscadet and then made our way back to Le Vieux Manoir, which was just like coming home to our own private mansion.
The next morning we had to make a pre-dawn departure to catch our train back to Paris. Gloria kindly packed a picnic breakfast to take with us; providing yet another thoughtful gesture to complete our magical visit. Her attention to detail remains unmatched and we will forever recommend this French manor home to anyone traveling to the Loire Valley.