the chateau series: cheverny
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
The gardens went virtually unexplored by us because we spent a lot of time visiting the kennels. Cheverny is an important hunting venue.
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.
Have you been to Cheverny?
Cheverny is about 80 km east of Tours.
the chateau series: azay-le-rideau
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.
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.
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.
Then the remaining parts of the chateau is like looking back into the “everyday” living quarters.
The very fancy four-poster in the bedchamber:
The salon which welcomes guests. It is open and inviting especially the rather plush-looking seating. Portraits adorning the red matching walls.
This particular dresser caught our attention – with the intricate level of detail on each draw.
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 😉
When we were done inside, it was time to pop outside and check out the view from behind.
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.
the chateau series: villandry
If you have been following our blog for a while, you may remember the post about 8 of the chateaux in the Loire Valley that we shared last year.
Following on from that post, we will be featuring each one of the chateaux in more photographic detail in an 8-part series.
First off the rank is:
Villandry Chateau and Gardens.
Villandry is famous for its architecture and gardens. Possibly slightly more famous for the gardens… and we hope you can see why by the end of this post.
This model layout of the property really helps put the size of the gardens into perspective (relative to the castle).
The castle is the first one we see during our time in Tours so we are immediately enchanted by the exterior. These perfectly symmetrical windows, the rectangular and sharp corners – it is but a mere fairy-tale castle for us.
Once inside, the interior only adds to the feelings of intrigue. Walking from room to room down the hallways… we are immersed into a slice of French history. Furnished with furniture and art from the Renaissance period, it seems like time has stood still in those very rooms.
Who else has walked these very halls? Who has stayed in these very rooms?
Honestly though, every window we walk past, we get distracted! We catch glimpses of the gardens and can’t help but long to be out and in amongst it.
In total, there are 6 gardens that can be explored. There’s a kitchen garden, filled with fruits and vegetables planted beautifully in geometric patterns.
There’s a water garden, a sun garden, a herb garden, the ornamental salons and the labyrinth. Picture Alice in Wonderland and the Queen of Hearts 🙂
Each shrub in it its place, each bush trimmed to perfection.
It is surely the most impeccably manicured garden, we have EVER seen in our lives. But remember, this is only the FIRST of EIGHT that we would be visiting…
Aren’t those gardens simply magical?
Villandry is 15 km west of Tours. There are two types of admission: one for the gardens only and another for the chateau and gardens.
buddhist cave art in the yungang grottoes
With Le back into full-time work, time has just been slipping away. It has been over six months since we returned from our last overseas trip and we just are getting edgy to plan our next one.
At the moment, we have a few short local getaways planned but we are hoping for an overseas trip at some point for 2-3 weeks at the end of the year. We’ll see how it pans out.
In the meantime, let’s go down memory lane for a little bit. We thought we would look back on a UNESCO site that we visited back in 2012….
It was April 2012, and we were in China. We were rather unaware that it was still going to be COLD…. So very very cold!
The day we went to Yungang Grottoes it was absolutely freezing and windy. We can recall so clearly how we had the hoods of our windbreakers pulled tightly over our “beanied” heads, our scarves wrapped around our necks and up around our faces… just enough to reveal our eyes.
The cold air was slicing through us despite our multiple layers…
But walking around the grottoes in that cold air was worth it! It was worth every teeth chatter, it was worth every shiver, it was worth the sting on our cheeks from the wind.
Before arriving at the caves, we walk down a path with tall majestic carved columns, then over a bridge with the frozen lake below.
We had no idea what we were in for…
There are more than 250 caves and more than 50 000 carved statues of all shapes and sizes. Impossible to see them all in the time we had there.
The sizes of the statues vary from tiny to massive – some are inside the caves while others are outside.
The level of detail on the carvings was mindboggling. And to think this artwork dates back to the 5th and 6th Century, it had us in complete awe.
The visit to these grottoes was definitely an experience to remember for many reasons. By the end of that day, our cheeks were frozen solid!
Yungang Grottoes was listed as a UNESCO Heritage site in 2001.
To see the other UNESCO sites we have visited, visit our unofficial bucket list
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