Chateau de Chenonceau and Chateau de Chambord

Pin It Now!
If you've ever looked into visiting the Loire Valley, you'll have found that there are dozens of beautiful chateau's to visit.  The trick is picking the best ones...or, more importantly, the best ones that suite your family.  Some are rich in drama with stories of war and love, others are more simple.  Some are fully decorated (some ostentatiously so), some are mere ruins.  It's a touch choice...if you're smart, you'll ask someone from France (or that region) to give you some tips...or, if you're like me...you spend hours on end researching where to go.  But, I must say, my hard work paid off.  In our nine days in the Loire Valley, we saw a total of 5 chateau's (one's that we actually toured the inside) and not including the Palace of Versailles...which, we went back towards Paris to see.
Now, the next hard part was trying to figure out which ones to see on which days.  We woke that first morning in our chateau to brilliant blue skies and sunshine.  For my selfish reasons (getting wicked good photos) I wanted to see a couple of the chateau's that were really cool looking.  (even though we had promised Sara we'd see the Sleeping Beauty castle that day) 
After a gorgeous breakfast of eggs, bacon and champagne...we packed up, grabbed the tour book and piled in the car.  First stop...Chateau de Chenonceau.  
This chateau was just flat out beautiful to me.  I loved the way it was positioned over the river.  The chateau has been rebuilt a few times...but the one standing now dates back to 1521.  There is a neat history of ownership, and it ended up in the hands of Queen Catherine de' Medici.  She was known for spending a fortune on elaborate parties and the chateau itself.  The first ever fireworks show was held there in 1560.  During World War I the gallery was used as a hospital ward; during the Second War it was a means of escaping from the Nazi occupied zone on one side of the River Cher to the "free" zone on the opposite bank.  (for more history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teau_de_Chenonceau)
Other than the Palace of Versailles, this is the most visited chateau in France.
The girls were totally stoked about seeing "castles" and they enjoyed running from room to room looking at the decor.  Of course, they could care less about the history and therefore mommy and daddy didn't get to do as much looking as they would have liked.  (Matt kept trying to read about the different items in the rooms...then to find that me and the girls were three rooms ahead of him..he gave up in the end)
The gardens were lovely...even though we were a bit early for all the spring blooms.  The best part was that there was hardly anyone there at all!! 

We grabbed a bite to eat at the stables...turned restaurant of course.  And planned where to go next.  The other chateau that got rave reviews was Chambord.  It didn't seem too far away, so off we went.  
When we arrived we found we had precious little time to see the chateau..it was nearing closing time (big bonus?  only a handful of people were still milling about).  Once I told Sara were had to hurry to see it all...well, that just gave her a total second wind.  We flew through the castle in hopes of seeing every room.  This place is massive...SO much bigger than Chenonceau.  Up and down flights of stairs...in and out of rooms...snapping shots as I went.  We actually had a lot of fun...and managed to see everything...if only briefly.
A bit of info about the chateau:
Chambord is the largest château in the Loire Valley; it was built to serve as a hunting lodge for François I, who maintained his royal residences at Château de Blois and Château d'Amboise. The original design of the Château de Chambord is attributed, though with several doubts, to Domenico da Cortona. Some authors claim that the French Renaissance architect Philibert Delorme had a considerable role in the château's design, and others have suggested that Leonardo da Vinci may have designed it.  (more history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C3%A2teau_de_Chambord)
One of the coolest features is the double helix staircase...supposedly designed by da Vinci himself.  This unusual stairway consists of two parallel stairways wrapped around one another, where two people can walk up and down without ever meeting.  
I wish we would have had more time to check everything out, but all in all it a great time.
With too very tired kids, we left the chateau and headed back to our own "little" chateau.  (compared to Chambord our chateau would be a condo.)  But first, we had to find food (and wine)  Found a local grocery store and stopped in.  Talk about a unique experience!  At least here in Saudi most things are in English as well as Arabic.  In France...french.  duh.  But, it made shopping a bit hard.  Still we managed to get stuff for breakfasts and some dinners (lots of pork products in there let me tell you.)  Not to mention that Bordeaux wine in France is just silly cheap compared to the States.  We didn't mind taking on the task of sampling the local varieties. ;)  Our first dinner in the chateau was a nice pasta spiked with lardons (aka bacon) and mushrooms.  (oh yeah, and salad)
(okay, so not my best photo, but I was in a hurry...wine was waiting for me! oh, and food)
Another day in the books...more chateau's to see tomorrow!


Post a Comment

I LOVE reading your comments!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...