The Château of Chambord is by far the biggest of the historic palaces in the Loire valley, with an elaborate facade bristling with chimneys, towers and turrets that make it look like a cluster of houses rather than a single building. Careful observation shows that each feature is unique, carefully positioned to ensure that there is no symmetry in the building.
Chambord was originally built in the sixteenth century as a hunting lodge for King François I, who made only a few brief visits to it. It is believed that part of the building was designed by Leonardo da Vinci, a guest of the king at that time in nearby Amboise.
Chambord was almost abandoned after the death of the king, and it was not until a century later that it became a royal residence again. For years it served as a hunting lodge, before passing into the possession of other members of the royal family who occupied it year around and expanded it to its current sprawling size.
The château is famous for its extensive gardens that stretch out for miles. The lawns surrounding the main building have been carefully trimmed in such exquisite patterns that they appear to have been painted on rather than grown. Chambord remained one of the largest palaces in France until Louis XIV decided to expand another of his hunting lodges, at Versailles, and convert it into a spectacular residence that nobody in Europe has ever outdone.
If you visit the Loire Valley, be sure to taste some of the famous fromage de Chèvre (goat cheese) that is a specialty of this region. From the soft, crumbly, creamy version to the aged, firmer variety and so many more in between, Chèvre is always included in the cheese course at the end of a meal and also used in many creative ways in local cuisine. We often started our day with a delicious, fluffy Chèvre omelette and if you follow my easy recipe below, you can too!
You can play around with this recipe and add spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes or thyme. Throw in a bowl of French Onion Soup and you may as well be in France!
Chèvre Omelette With Chives
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 tbsp each: milk or cream, chopped fresh chives, unsalted butter, crumbled goat cheese (at room temperature)
Beat eggs with a whisk or fork until well combined and light in colour, about 2 min.
Add salt, pepper and milk or cream. Beat again to combine, 1 min. Fold in 1 tbsp of the chives.
Melt butter in large frying pan set over medium heat, swirling pan to distribute butter evenly.
Pour egg mixture into pan, tilting it to spread evenly. Once the edges have set lightly, push them in slightly and tip skillet to let uncooked portion of the egg run underneath.
Sprinkle goat cheese evenly over top. Cover skillet with a lid to melt cheese, about 1 min.
When omelette is cooked, fold it in half and slide it onto a plate. Garnish with remaining 1 tbsp chives.