Sunday 30 October 2022

The Neapolitan Nativity Scene at the Chateau Royal d'Amboise

Every year the Chateau Royal d'Amboise brings its impressive Neapolitan nativity scene out of storage and displays it in the Great Hall. 

Neapolitan nativity scene, Chateau Royal d'Amboise, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

Traditionally the setting up of these nativity scenes begins on 30 November, and is finished by 8 December. The background for the Holy Family is typically a ruined temple in which the stable is housed, with beautiful angels flying above. The peasants are dressed in Neapolitan and Sicilian regional costumes. In the really expensive sets the jewels adorning the Kings and their entourage are real. The 'oriental' band is also a typical feature.

Sunday 23 October 2022

A Top Tip for Getting the Best out of a Guided Tour

If your tour includes a meal organised by the guide do make sure you mention if you have dietary requirements and be specific about them before you settle on an itinerary and book. The guide will take these into consideration when booking or recommending restaurants. 

Valencay goats cheese, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Valencay cheese, one of the famous Loire Valley goats cheese.
In rural France particularly, restaurants often do not offer extensive a la carte menus, but daily changing seasonal limited choice set menus. Don't wait until you are seated in the restaurant to tell your guide that you are vegan, coeliac or lactose intolerant. That will be too late and the restaurant, no matter how sympathetic, may not be able to meet your dietary requirements in a way that you find satisfactory.

The ingredients in the kitchen on a daily basis will be limited and seasonal. Restaurants operate in this way because it is illegal, uneconomical, and disrespectful to waste food in France.  Most French diners in traditional French restaurants have grown up trusting the chefs in these places to produce a delicious meal. Almost everyone will choose the dish of the day. No one will request anything not on the menu, or that a dish is changed to suit them, unless they have diagnosed food allergies.

Sunday 16 October 2022

Visiting the Gardens of Villandry in the Loire Valley

Because the framework of the gardens at Villandry as a whole are so good it is worth visiting at any time of year. But because the most famous part of the garden relies on formal parterres planted with vegetables for their decorative effect, this is not really a spring garden as so many others are. This is a garden which peaks in late summer and early autumn, when all the fruit and vegetables have matured.

Gardens of the Chateau of Villandry, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

This photo was taken on a dull November day at about 5pm when sunset is at 5.30 pm, so light conditions were not the best for taking stunning photographs. Nevertheless, I think you can still get a good idea of how impressive these gardens are.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website. If you would like an idea of how your tour might look and sound, please check out our YouTube channel.