the chateau series: amboise

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We have been missing in action… a lot has been going on! We’re planning our next trip… FINALLY! We are off to New Zealand in September – but that’s not what this post is about.

Sharing with you the 6th chateau (and third last) in the series:

Amboise

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Majestically located, looking down on the town of Amboise and Loire River, this fortress (or chateau) was a palace during the Renaissance. From the outside, you can clearly see why. It’s location provided security for the royal family (at least when they were staying there).

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It allowed great visibility of the dangers below and any incoming threats via the river.

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Once inside the grounds, the first thing we visit is St Hubert Chapel – the final resting place of Leonardo da Vinci who died in Amboise in May 1519. This small chapel was crowded with visitors and also was a spot for refuge as the rain came down on the day we were there.

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Again, as with the other chateaus we have shared – from room to room, we spot the necessary large fireplaces, the token suit of armour(s) and the colourful furniture.

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This particular 18th Century chair (with an identical one on the other side of the fire place) caught our attention. The image and colours were just delightful to look at.

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This was actually the cavalier ramp designed to allow horses and carriages to reach the towers from the town.

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Nowadays, you can’t enter that way, it’s the way to exit the chateau – spiralling all the way from the top to the bottom and spitting us out on the street.

This wasn’t really a memorable chateau for us, it felt a little cold and impersonal. And we felt outside was more of the wow-factor than the inside.

Amboise is approximately 24 km east of Tours and about a 10 minute walk from Clos du Luce

Have you visited Amboise? What did you think of it?

We welcome your comments.

the chateau series: clos luce

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So what is so important about this chateau??

Chateau du Clos Luce

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Leonardo da Vinci lived in this chateau for the last three years of his life, invited to live in France by King Francois I, in 1516.

The man was a genius – well beyond his time; painting, inventing, engineer and architect! And King Francois I thought so too.

We were a little in awe to think that we walked through the same hallways, up the same stairwells as Leonardo da Vinci…. THE Leonardo da Vinci. We even stood in the very room that he slept in.

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His bedroom overlooked the garden, apparently he LOVED the view out of the castle.

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The rest of the living quarters are much like the others we have shared in the series; kitchen, salon, bedrooms.

But this chateau was unique, in it’s own way!

The basement was the model room for all of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions. These 3D animations were  created based on his designs and drawings in his notebooks.

We spent ages in this section completely enthralled by his talented mind and imagination.

Truly a man beyond his era!

(A) Military Armoured Tank

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(B) Multiple Direction Machine Gun

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(C) Printing Press

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(D) The First Car

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(E) The Paddle Boat

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Then it was into the backyard, where there are life-sized models of his inventions, there are his works and his words – all on display for visitors to wonder around and discover for themselves. It’s a hands-on exhibit with 20 giant working models.

There are 40 translucent canvases that are 3-4 metres high.

His idea of a helicopter….

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This place is fascinating in a completely different way to the other chateaux. Nothing quite like it…

Chateau du Clos Luce is approximately 26km east of Tours.  

Do you have a favourite artist?

We don’t have one but we certainly found one that we admire immensely after this visit. Leave us a comment.

the chateau series: cheverny

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To any Tintin fans – this chateau may look a little familiar?? Think about Captain Haddock’s country home, Marlingspike Hall… It is said that Herge (author of Tintin) based the house on this chateau.

Chateau Cheverny 

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This estate has been in the same family for 6 centuries and to this day, is still lived in by the descendants of the Hurault family. They live in a sealed off wing of the chateau while the parts that we can visit are much like the others we have seen.

In this post, we share a little bit of what we found interesting.

The Dining Room is adorned with a silver-plated solid bronze chandelier weighing over 100 kg. It hangs above the table that can extend to seat 30 guests. Don’t want to be sitting under the light should it come down, right?
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The arms room is the largest room in the chateau. There are plenty of pieces on display showcasing artwork, furniture, armour and weapons from as far back as the 15th Century. The travelling trunks, shown in these pictures, for example are from the 17th Century.

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Let’s not forget the King’s Bedchamber which has an extravagantly decorated canopy and tapestries. These are there to keep the heat in.

The beds were unusually short as during this period, people slept sitting up. Lying down was for the dead.

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The grand salon houses the 18th Century harp that is still in perfect working condition. Can you just imagine the sounds this instrument would’ve produced?

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The gardens went virtually unexplored by us because we spent a lot of time visiting the kennels. Cheverny is an important hunting venue.

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The kennels house approximately a hundred French Hounds which are fed every day around 3pm. This was rather entertaining to watch.

We stand outside high metal fences, peering in to watch the “event”.  The keeper lay out the meat as the dogs clamber over one another and growl and bark in the overhead terrace.

Once the side gate is open, the dogs tear down the stairs (left of image) and wait for the keeper’s  command to feast. Then it is just frantic.

Those dogs are fierce, we certainly wouldn’t want them chasing us through the estate.

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Have you been to Cheverny?

Cheverny is about 80 km east of Tours.

the chateau series: chambord

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In this edition, we take a look at

Chateau de Chambord

Chambord is on an estate of about 5440 hectares and is enclosed by a 32km wall that is 2.5 metres high.

The exterior of this chateau in itself is enough to make us say, “WOW” over and over again.IMG_2422

Especially knowing that it was intended to be “only” a hunting lodge by King Francis I. He wasn’t alive to see it completed with its 77 staircases, 282 fireplaces and 426 rooms.

 

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The most famous of staircases, which is believed to be the idea of Leonardo da Vinci, is the double spiral staircase that links the three floors in the centre of the keep. The two stairwells wind independently of one another and never meet, although you can see through to the other whilst on one.

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The difference between this chateau and the others is the sheer extravagance and size of it. The rooms, stairwells corridors all weave upon themselves and getting lost is only natural. It is however not as warm and welcoming as some of the others that were inhabited.

The ceilings high, the rooms cold, the hallways dark, it is not somewhere we would want to be stuck in at night time. We did say however, it would be ideal for a murder mystery night.

Anyway, adding to the rather aloof atmosphere, there is much to suggest the prestige in hunting. The walls are adorned with deer heads or art depicting hunting. It was a little overwhelming and confronting.

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And of course there is a room displaying the trophies.

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A little bit of trivia to finish off the Chambord showcase: the vaulted ceilings are carved with King Francis’ F monogram with a salamander; his emblem which is a mythical animal able to live in fire.

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Have you visited Chambord? 

Tell us what you think here

Chambord is located 77km north east of Tours. Extended opening hours from April to September with one admission and access to 800 hectares of parklands where you may sight a wild boar or deer.