Castle Crawl #2

James in the garden of Dianne d’Poitiers at the Castle of Chenonceau.
It’s been another exhausting day on the “Castle Crawl of the Loire Valley”. I’ve changed into a pair or shorts and a t-shirt (and enjoying the relaxed nature of a queen-sized bed), while David is resting up in track pants reading a book. After a long day visiting three famous castles in the valley, we’re both pretty exhausted. In fact, I can barely keep my eyes open, so it might just be a few words today and some lovely “castle porn”.

After a light breakfast of coffee and croissants (I had a pain au chocolat) this morning, we set off to visit the first castle of the day, Azay-le-Rideau. Throughout most of its history it was privately owned, eventually sold when the final owner ran into some financial problems. Only once did a king, Louis XIII visit the property. The house had a very intimate friendly feel about it, and I especially enjoyed walking in the gardens.

We then came back for a bite to eat in Tours where I ate the very typically French liver pate on a baguette.

After lunch, we visited Chenonceau which mostly belonged to women. The occupants included Gabrielle d’Estrees, a favourite of Henri IV; Diane de Poitiers, a mistress to Henri II; and when he died it was taken over by his wife, Catherine de Medici. And after that, it became a refuge for the widow of Henri III when he was assassinated. For many years, the house was also in private hands, though it was turned into a military hospital. and during WW2, the house, which crosses the river, marked the line between occupied and free France for a period.

And then we visited Amboise: the place where Charles VIII died; a residence of most of kings of Fance in the Loire Valley until Henry IV. including being the place where Francois I had many famous parties. Some of the parties, incidentally, were designed by Leonardo de Vinci who lived just down the street for a number of years. Leo died nearby, by the way, and was buried in a chapel at the castle. We made a brief visit to the nearby house where he lived, though with only a few minutes to closing time, didn’t think the entry fee was worth the investment of time.

On several occasions today David has asked me to nominate a favourite. I don’t think I can since all three have their own special qualities. Some are beautiful, some are homely, some are architecturally or historically interesting. Sorry if that’s a cop-out.

Back in Tours we had dinner, and now we’re back in the room, ready to hit the sack. This is hard work, you know.

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  1. Peter

    My most remarkable castle was Chateau Chambord, especially the double staircase, who would have thought of a thing like that in those days. It would be usefull nowadays.

  2. Ian Marks

    James your right touring and sightseeing is hard work. But you gotta admit its great way to work.

  3. James

    It’s pretty good. Currently checking my email in The Marais. Have fun next year!

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