Architecture

the chateau series: chenonceau

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This is our final instalment for the series and we are featuring:

Chateau de Chenonceau

Possibly one of, if not, the most famous chateau in the region. We didn’t purposefully save it for last, it was in fact the last one we saw.

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Back in 2006, Chenonceau was the only one we were able to see so on our return trip, we wanted to make sure to see some others but also come back to the one that started it all for us.

So what is so special about it?

It is built over the River Cher – literally and had also had some rather famous inhabitants. And not to mention that it is rather a treat to explore.

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Easily the busiest one we visited as well.

Let’s revisit a bit of what we mentioned in the Chaumont post about this one.

Diane de Poitiers lived in Chenonceau. Catherine de Medici lived in Chaumont. Catherine de Medici traded houses with Diane de Poitiers.

Each of the ladies contributed to the architecture work that can be seen on the house today.

A quick tour of the place will see us taking you to …

* Diane de Portier’s bedroom – with the symbolic 4-poster bed and 2 large tapestries from the 16th Century. Oddly enough, her room is where the portrait of Catherine De Medici is housed, hung above the fireplace.

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* the Gallery – located in the bridge that you see in the above picture. The end of the gallery are two fireplaces on either side of the South door which opened to the left bank of River Cher.

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Wise Monkey Trivia – During the First World War, the chateau was set up as a hospital (by its owner), the gallery was an access point. During the Second World War, the River Cher was the “line of demarcation” as such, the gallery was used to pass large numbers of people into the free zone.

* the kitchens – built in the bases forming the first two piers built in the bed of the River Cher. Looking out the window, we see the “arch legs of the chateau” and the River Cher below.

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* Louis XIV’s Drawing Room – another ornate fireplace with the Salamander of Francois I (as previously shown in Chambord) and a Stoat for Queen Claude of France.

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* Catherine de Medici’s bedroom – with the finely carved 4-poster bed and furniture. The tapestries housed in this room are rare and fascinating. The borders of the tapestries are filled with animals symbolising proverbs and fables.

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And from the first floor, look out the windows! To the left, we see Catherine’s garden.

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To our right, we see Diane’s garden.

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Yet another unique and extravagant chateau with such jaw-dropping architecture.  As we often say, we would love to be a fly on the wall back in the day – simply so we could see how every day life was and to see the historical figures in action!

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That winds up our 8-part series of the Chateaux we saw in the Loire Valley; 8 of a vast amount in the region (not all of which are open to the public though).

Now that we have showcased the 8 in a bit more detail and you’ve glimpsed the inside….

Do you have a favourite chateau?

If you commented on the original post, have you changed your mind?

Feel free to 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: azay-le-rideau

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In Part 2, let’s share:

Chateau of Azay-le-Rideau

Was it extravagant? YES

Was it original? YES

Was it impressive? YES

But in saying all that, this was probably our least favourite of the chateaux we visited. And not because it wasn’t gorgeous to look at – just in comparison to the others we saw… it wasn’t AS “WOW”.

To be fair, we were there in miserable weather so we not able to explore as much of the gardens as we would’ve liked.

So upon paying the entry fee and walking out of the ticket office… we walk down the tree-lined paths and before us stands an example of early Renaissance architecture, positioned beautifully in front of lake.

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Yeah, okay … it is pretty WOW.

Enter the doors to ascend the grand staircases, which is an example of one of the first French examples of staircases which are straight and not spiral. Knowing this little pieced of information is rather exciting for us. We do walk up them slowly to soak up the experience.

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At the top, we enter the great attic and look up to the ceilings. The original timberwork (dating back to 1550s) is overhead- and it is basically like an upturned ark. The crowds in this room suggests it is a main feature and possibly the drawcard.

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Then the remaining parts of the chateau is like looking back into the “everyday” living quarters.

The study:

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The very fancy four-poster in the bedchamber:

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The salon which welcomes guests. It is open and inviting especially the rather plush-looking seating. Portraits adorning the red matching walls.

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This particular dresser caught our attention – with the intricate level of detail on each draw.

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Lastly, anyone for a game of billiards? On those back walls hang large tapestries of a hunting scene. Very fitting for the entertainment room, maybe in those days anyway 😉

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When we were done inside, it was time to pop outside and check out the view from behind.

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Yeah, alright then! So it is extraordinarily fancy but some more impressive chateaus are still  on their way.

Have you visited this chateau?

If you have been here, tell us what you thought here or just leave us a comment.

Azay-le-Rideau is 23 km west of Tours. There is only one admission fee for the residence as well as the grounds.

weekly photo challenge: symmetry

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We were inside the Cathedral of Leon and when we looked up – this symmetrical view needed to be photographed. And now we get to share it for the “symmetry” challenge this week.

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Feel free to leave us your thoughts here.

Happy Weekend to you all!!