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On our trip to the Val de Loire in June, we visited three famous chateaux. According to an official tourist leaflet, we have a choice of as many as 70-plus chateau in the area. These buildings are national monuments and not the kind that has been converted into a hotel or B&B – like the one we stayed overnight. Click here to see our chateau.

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Château de Chambord is probably one of the most celebrated if not the most visited chateau in the Loire Valley.  Definitely a top tourist magnet, it is also the largest chateau in the area.  The government has done a great job promoting and managing it.

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As the chateau is very well known, there are tomes written about the architecture, its creators, inhabitants and rich history. And there is a very colorful website – here. So I will be very brief here.

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The construction started in 1519 by Francois I. It is one of the few buildings of the Renaissance age that has survived without major modifications to its original design. It is a blend of French medieval and Italian Renaissance style.

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It was not meant to be a permanent residence but an architectural jewel that the king liked to show to visiting royalties and ambassadors as a symbol of his power.

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It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981. The domain of Chambord is completely enclosed within a 20-mile stone wall, all 5,440 hectares of it.

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That’s the equivalent of the city of Paris and the largest enclosed forest in Europe.

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Nowadays, there are about 700 deers and 1000 wild boars on the grounds. As it was intended to be a hunting lodge for the king, there were many antlers on the walls.

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One of the architectural highlights is the spectacular double helix open staircase that is the centerpiece of the château.

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The two helices ascend the three floors without ever meeting, illuminated from above by natural light at the highest point of the château.

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On display are some furnishings but it is relatively sparse compared to the other chateaux (see later post). I suspect it is partly because of its size and the fact that it was abandoned from time to time in its history.

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Also on display are modern art pieces.

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It functions as a gallery for contemporary artists.

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We had a fun day but were exhausted by the amount of walking inside the various wings and levels of the chateau.

Come back later for photos of two more chateaux.

 

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