Castles in the Sky2/16/2010
Paris was an amazingly huge city with an infinite amount of activities. I barely touched the tip of the iceberg on what France has to offer. Of course like most tourists I saw the Eiffel tower, went to a few museums, and spent a bit of money dining with the locals.
However, the high lite of my stay in Paris didn’t take place in Paris at all. It took place a few hundred miles outside the city.
The Loire Valley Castles Day Trip to Chenonceau, Cheverny and Chambord has to one of the best sight seeing experiences that I’ve ever been part of.
I wasn’t even planning on going on this tour as I had been planning to take a day trip to go see the D-Day Beaches at Normandy. Finding out that this guided trip wasn’t available during my stay lowered my spirits a bit. I quikcly replaced with the castles tour and it did not dissappoint!
Chateau de Chenonceau
Going to this castle was an absolute dream come true for me. As a kid I spent many of my leisure hours building 3D puzzles. Chateau de Chenonceau was one of the about 5 or 6 that I built, and the first stop on the castles tour.
All 3 of these castles are basically out in the middle of nowhere. They weren’t used for military purposes and they do not stand atop a high hill. Chenonceau was built over a small stream.
The outside of the castle is absolutely stunning with the Roman arches over the stream and the white French architecture. The castle has a very romantic feel to it and a very feminie look. I wasn’t surprised to find out that the modern Chateau de Chenonceau was designed by a woman.
The gardens surrounding the complex are very beautiful as well. My only disappointment was not being able to take a photo that encompasses the whole castle and surrounding gardens.
Inside, the museum delivered as well. I won’t go into much detail about the insides but I’ll say this castle is completely worth the visit!
I wasn’t at all impressed with the exterior of Cheverny. I have high expectations for castles and this looked like a bonafide mansion. The castle itself was used primarily as a hunting lodge. I did enjoy meeting the owners 60 or so hound dogs in the back though.
I had very little expectations walking into this castle but was blown away by the interior. Room to room was decked with various paintings, statues, monuments, and various other top quality arts and crafts.
The most amazing part of Cheverny is the history behind it. I was amazed to see a family photo of the current owners of the castle neatly displayed at the front entrance, and the many other family heirlooms passed on down from different generations. That’s because in the 500+ year history of Chevery, it has only been owned by one family! Very rare indeed.
Chevery and Chambord are as different as night and day. I’ll break it down for you quickly
Chevery, small. Chambord BIG
Chevery, full. Chambord empty
Chambord is what you see in fairy tales. Large, majestic, beautiful, and fit for only the wealthiest of the wealthy.
Which brings up a few questions.
Why was it used as a hunting lodge?
How come hardly anyone ever stayed in Chambord?
There is a certain mystic about this castle. The inside is basically empty with only a few rooms decorated. Chambord was passed on from various kings over the years but they all would eventually abandon the property.
However, during each of their tenures, King Francois 1, Louis XIV, and Louis XV would continue to add on to the castle. The project to this day was never completed.
None the less, the exterior completly blew me a way. I spent a good hour walking around trying to take in the various angles of Chambord.
What I thought of the experience?
A must go!