5/17/2008 冒險第七天: 香波, 離開羅亞河谷到夏特 (Adventure 7th day: Chambord, leaving Loire Valley for Chatres)

Chateau de Chambord’s extravagant design and majestic stature earned itself the title: the king of castles in Loire Valley. It was initiated by king Francois I in 1519 and meant to be his hunting lodge. However, Francois I reined for 32 years but only spent 72 days in the castle. Later on, his son, king Henri II, added the west wing and built the 2nd floor on the chapel. Also Louis XIV spent a huge amount of fund in renovating Chambord in 1685 during his reign. However, all these kings stayed only short period of time in this castle. Chambord, as we see today, was completed in 1864, making it the largest castle in Loire Valley and consisting of 77 staircases, 282 fireplaces, and 426 rooms.  The last family to own Chambord privately was Comte de Chambord; his heirs sold the castle to French government in 1930 for 10,000,000 francs.
 
This is Chambord~~~ (好囂張的城堡阿~~~)
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The diagram depicting the rooms. (但我還是看不出什麼東西) 
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The famous “double-spiral” staircases. It’s an interesting design always said to be Da Vinci’s idea. It comprises 2 sets of staircases spiraling on the center like a “double helix.” When 2 people are on each set of staircase, they can see each other through the hollow central column but will not be able to meet each other.  
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King Francois I’s emblem, a salamander, has been monogrammed on the ceiling.
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One of the big staircases:
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Renaissance style tower:
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The lawn and the river seen from the castle:
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Elaborately decorated towers:
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我在這個城堡中沒照很多照片因為King Francois I是有名的愛打獵, 很多陳列室都是一堆小動物的家族標本, 還有一個大廳有上百個鹿頭骨跟鹿角, 我覺得看起來蠻變態的… 
Leaving Loire Valley for Chatres:
Chatres is famous for having “Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Chatres”–French for “Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres.” It is a gothic architectural cathedral dated back to 12th century. It has remained an important landmark for Chatres and significant religious center for Marian pilgrims today.
The cathedral is huge: 130 meters in length, 46 meters in width, and the heighest point is 113 meters. Therefore, it was extremely difficult to take a photo unless I stood way back…whowever, there were always people going around besides it so I was never able to take a good photo.
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Beautiful and complex carvings of the walls:  
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Gothic style tower:
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One of the very elaborated stained-glass windows:
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Light & music show at night~ (晚上天黑後有教堂聲光表演.  光線照在教堂上好像教堂變彩色的, 很好看~)
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5/16/2008 冒險第六天: 雪儂梭, 肖夢, 安布瓦茲, 布洛瓦 (Adventure 6th day: Chenonceau, Chaumont-sur-Loire, Amboise, Blois)

Chateau de Chenonceau was built in 1513 by king Francois I’s treasurer, Thomas Bohier, with great help from his wife, Catherine Briconnet. It has been regarded as a castle that “floats on the air and water,” and the way it spans Cher river, a branch river of Loire River, has been described as an elegant swan resting its wings on Cher. Other than its beauty, this castle is made famous perhaps by king Henri II’s two women–Catherine de Medici and Dianne de Poitiers. Catherine de Medici was Henri II’s queen, but Henri II was succombed by his mistress–Dianne de Poitiers. Although Dianne de Poitiers was 20 years older than the king, the age did not reduce Dianne’s fairness, instead, she was portrayed as the moon goddess in countless paintings and statues. In 1547, Henri II gave Chenonceau to Dianne, but after Henri II died in 1559, Catherine de Medici forced Dianne to exchange Chenonceau for her Chateau de Chaumont. After Catherine de Medici moved in, she ordered to build another 2 floors on the bridge as seen today. In 1733, madame Louise Dupin was the owner of the castle, and due to her kindness and generosity, the castle was free from destruction during the French Revolution.
The entrance to the castle: 
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The castle seen from its garden:
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The “bridge” part of the castle; it spans Cher river.
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The interior of the castle: The portray on the left is Catherine de Medici.
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The interior of the “bridge.” It was served as a hospital during World War I.
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Gardens:
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This is where Chaumont-sur-Loire locates: 

Chateau de Chaumont was first built in 10th century as a fortress to defend Blois, but it was burned down in 1465 by Louis XI as a punishment to Pierre D’Amboise for rebelling against the royal power. However, it was restored by his descendents in 1510. Later on, king Henri II’s queen, Catherine de Medici, bought the castle after the king’s death in 1560. Catherine then made Dianne de Poitiers–the late king’s mistress–exchange Dianne’s Chateau de Chanonceau for Chateau de Chaumont, basically house-arresting Dianne in the castle. Due to that Chateau de Chaumont was for defence purpose, it never had proper gardens. Until 1884, the owner of the castle, Prince Amedee de Broglie hired Henri Duchene to create an English garden. In 1750, one of the most powerful and richest nobles, Jacques D’LeRay, bought the castle and protected the castle during the French Revolution. In 1938, the castle became France’s property.

This is the front of the castle. It stands on the cliff and the river is on the back.

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Interior of the castle:
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Porcupine, the symbol of Louis XII.  
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This is where Chateau d’Amboise locates:
Chateau d’Amboise was built during Roman time with gothic architectural style and had been a typical fortress of Loire riverbank. Charles VIII rebuilt the castle in 15th century before he moved in with his wife. King Francois I, who was a patron of Renaissance arts, moved in and invited Leonardo Da Vinci to Amboise in 1516. Thus Da Vinci brought some of his famous paintings including “Mona Lisa” to reside in “Clos Luce” near Chateau d’Amboise and received generous hospitality and salary. It is also believed that Da Vinci started to design Chateau de Chambord at this time. Francois I also renovated the castle so it is actually a combination of gothic and Renaissance styles as seen now. After Da Vinci passed away in 1519, he was interred in the church of Chateau d’Amboise as he wished. The castle was damaged during the French Revolution; what is seen today is what has been left.
The whole castle is surrounded by the walls that extend widely and faces the river with modern residential area built against it.
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The interior of the castle:
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Gothic style windows:
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Loire river seen from top of the castle:
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The church of Chateau d’Amboise:
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Da Vinci rests in peace here…
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The gardens:
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This is Chateau de Blois, locating in the center of Blois. It was also where Joan of Arc received bless from the archbishop in 1429 before she led the army to Orleans. However, I did not go in. I came to Blois for dinner and stayed for the night only. If I had more time, I would take a look at this castle and the town. There was some festival going on in the town on the day I arrived–people were gathered in a plaza and there was music performance. 
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5/15/2008 冒險第五天: 薇蘭德希, 阿澤勒依多(Adventure 5th day: Villandry, Azay-le-Rideau)

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A bit history about Chateau de Villandry: (Chateau-> French for “castle”)
It was completed in 1536 by Jean le Breton, who was King Francois I’s finance minister and the same person who built Chateau de Chambord. Chateau de Villandry was owned by Jean le Breton’s family until 1754 and then was passed to the king’s ambassador, Marquis de Castellane, who renovated the interior to meet comfort purposes during that era. Later on, the traditional gardens were destroyed and an English-style park around the castle was installed. In 1906, the castle is bought by Dr. Joachim Carvallo, who basically saved the castle from being demolished and created the gardens seen today. The castle has stayed as Dr. Carvallo’s descendents’ property.
The castle with the most fascinating gardens:
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This part is the “ornamental gardens.” The patterns mean “tender love,” “passionate love,” “fickled love,” and “tragic love.”
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This part is the “water garden.”
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Gardeners are busy working:
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Gardens are grown with different flowers to suit each season:
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The castle is no less gorgeous than the gardens:
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The interior of the castle:
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This is where Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau locates:
Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau was built by Gilles Berthelot as his residence around 1515. He later became Treasurer of France, but fled the castle due to his close relative being accused for corruption and himself under suspecion. King Francois I gave the castle to his comrades, Antoine Raffin, whose family lived there until 1791. Charles de Biencourt then bought the castle in the middle of the French Revolution, but his decendent, the last marquis, was forced to sell the castle due to financial problem. The castle has been owned by the country since 1905. 
The front view of the castle: (The staff was on strike on the day I visited, so it’s free to enter, but the castle itself is closed. )
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There’s a river surrounding the castle from the back and creating a very romantic atmosphere.
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This is the “gite”(民宿) I stayed for the night. It’s Chateau des Templiers owned by madame Aubry Leborgne.
If anybody is interested in staying in a castle style “gite,” you can check this website: http://www.chateaux-france.com/
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我的房間其實不在上面那個”城堡”裡, 而是在它旁邊的一排房間. 不過”城堡”一樓中有美麗的閱讀室可以進去看書, 還有吃早餐的古典餐廳. Madame Leborgne 跟她家人就住樓上, 是個非常美麗的女人, 也非常友善. 還有一個可愛的四歲金髮男孩. 我沒見到她先生, 但晚上在窗邊有看到他開車回來, 一大早又開車去上班了. 城堡院子還有一隻大狗, 看起來像黑色的黃金獵犬.
This is my room, the bluish and white hues give this spacious room a tranquil touch. 
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With very spacious bathroom:
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I had a very nice breakfast prepared by madame Leborgne herself:
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