The region around Amboise has attractions that resemble a mix of Disney's Magic Kingdom and the court of the Renaissance kings. The most frequently visited attraction, the Aquarium du Val de Loire, Parc des Mini-Châteaux (tel. 02-47-23-44-57), lies 9.5km (6 miles) west of Amboise. It has more than 10,000 freshwater and saltwater fish, including about a half-dozen sharks. Admission is 13€ for adults and 8.75€ for children 4 to 14; it's open daily 10:30am to 6pm.

At the same address (same phone) is the Parc des Mini-Châteaux, which holds replicas of France's most famous castles built at 1/25 the size of the originals. Chambord, for example, is less than 3.5m (11 ft.) tall. It's all very patriotic -- a sort of learning game that teaches French schoolchildren the glories of their patrimoine (heritage) and collects some of the most celebrated architecture in Europe. Admission is 14€ for adults, 9.50€ for students and children 4 to 16, and free for children 3 and under.

The aquarium is open daily year-round; the Parc des Mini-Châteaux is open from April to mid-November, with occasional closures based on the school calendar. Hours vary according to the season -- call ahead for information.

To get here from Amboise, follow signs to Tours and take RD751 along the southern bank of the Loire. The aquarium is 1km (2/3 mile) beyond the village of Lussault-sur-Loire (it's clearly marked).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.