The Loire River is largest river in France, and scenery on both sides of river is very beautiful. Historically, French royal family also fell in love with this geomantic treasure and built many magnificent castles, turning Loire Valley into a quiet and classic French royal family's back garden. Most of these castles were built during Middle Ages and Renaissance, they are large and exquisite, many castles have left anecdotes about royal family, giving them a touch of legend. In 6 days we walked around castles of different styles of Loire Valley, visited 8 classical castles and 4 cities of valley. The whole route was like a walk through elegance and charm of Renaissance, which intoxicated people with its picturesqueness. decorations and pure French style.
Day 1 Paris - Chartres 120 km
Visit city of Chartres and take part in Chartres Light Festival
Day 2 Chartres-Azey-les-Rideau-Lives Castle 240 km
Visit Château de Azay-le-Rideau and stay overnight at Château de Livre
Day 3 Liv Castle - Chenonceau Castle - Tours 110 km
Visit castle of Chenonceau, visit city of Tours
Day 4: Amboise 25 km
Visit Château d'Amboise, visit Château Clos Luce (former residence of da Vinci)
Day 5 Amboise-Chaumont-sur-Loire-Blois 50 km
Visit estate of Chaumont-sur-Loire, visit castle of Blois and city of Blois
Day 6 Blois-Chambord-Orléans 70 km
Visit Chambord, visit city of Orléans
Day 7 Orleans-Paris
Return to Paris by train, approximately 1 hour
The pinnacle of French Gothic architecture is hidden in small town of Chartres
Chartres is a small city, but it has a huge and spectacular church that can be seen long before entering Chartres. The small town is very quiet and late autumn colors decorate streets beautifully. I will stay here tonight to enjoy Chartres Light Festival at night. The Chartres Light Festival is held every summer and ends in mid-October, so we've just caught up.
I can't wait to visit Chartres Cathedral, which is one of four largest Gothic churches in France and is considered pinnacle of French Gothic architecture. The main entrance to church is a group of three deeply recessed pointed arched gates with 24 original cylindrical statues on either side of gate. The appearance and pose of these statues are very individual, and they are typical works of French Gothic sculpture, from which it is enough to stop and look up.
The interior of cathedral is very majestic, and blue used in window of Our Lady is known as Chartres blue. In total, church has 170 stained glass windows, all with biblical scenes, including more than 4,000 Byzantine-style portraits, which are recognized as most perfect example of stained glass art of 13th century.
In Middle Ages, it was a great place of pilgrimage.
The platform next to church offers a panoramic view of Chartres.
When night falls in Chartres, most beautiful moment comes. The changing lights and patterns illuminate Chartres' over a dozen main buildings, which is especially dreamy. The lights of Chartres Cathedral are most beautiful, using modern sound and light to replicate construction process of cathedral, and finally ended in starry sky.
Château de Azay-le-Rideau, a romantic gem in water
Azey-le-Rideau Castle is built on an island in Indre, surrounded by a nineteenth-century romantic garden.
Azay-le-Rideau is best known for its reflection: river surrounds castle, and water surface is calm like a mirror, reflecting graceful figure of castle from all sides. The proudest thing in entire castle is five flower windows, which are arranged symmetrically.
Château de Azay-le-Rideau was built by the Minister of Finance Francis I Berthelot and his wife. This is an early Renaissance castle.
The entrance to castle is made in form of a triumphal arch, decorated with initials of founder Gilberto and his wife. Under windows of stairs, symbols of Francis I and his wife Claude are engraved: salamanders and ermines.
When you enter castle, you will notice intricate and beautiful carvings and decorations at top of stairs.
On ground floor of castle, scenes from life of 19th century have been completely restored. Furniture, decorations, tapestries and scenery are full of historical meaning, and details of noble life of that time are displayed one after another. one.
Many items have been carefully restored and are very beautiful.
The walls of Houmbai are covered with red and gold fabrics and portraits of French kings hang.
The small town outside castle is also very nice: various small boutiques open their doors for tourists on sunny streets, and my companions found their favorite earrings here.
Or have a bite to eat in alley, drink a cup of coffee and enjoy French leisure and laziness.
Living Castle Live in a medieval castle
I dare say that after living in castle, I was in Loire Valley. This time my dream of living in a castle came true. Château du Rivau is a real medieval castle, now in care of its elegant mistress.
Liv Castle has everything I imagined about a castle: scattered spiers, dreamy gardens, a romantic and slightly mysterious atmosphere.
Liv Castle has a long history. It was founded in 15th century by famous Bovo family with French royal blood. Once upon a time, Joan of Arc came to Liv Castle to beg for war horses. The famous writer Rabelais also visited here. Special guest.
Liv Castle is now a private castle. The hostess told us that when she was a little girl, she came to this castle with her mother and saw a painting in castle. and her mother. As if it was destined, upon returning they decided to buy a castle.
Some of interior items were restored in castle and, in cooperation with artists, several small exhibitions were held, which not only enriched image of castle, but also increased income. The maintenance of old castle is very expensive.
According to historical records of castle, they also rebuilt twelve gardens with different themes.
"Tom's Finger", "Magic Forest", "Purple and White", "Running Forest" - each garden has its own name and meaning. Plants, sculptures and modern artworks are brought together through design of garden artists, walking through it, you can not only feel historical atmosphere of castle, but also feel attraction of modern art.
Four hundred different roses make Liv Castle a "green room of French scented roses". The hostess also makes pink bath soaps, perfumes and scented candles, which become sought-after souvenirs in castle's gift shop.
The castle is open to public during day. Even if you don't live in castle, you can buy a ticket to visit it. By end of day, tourists had dispersed, and whole castle belonged only to us, inhabitants. The sun is just right, sit in a corner of yard, drink a cup of black tea and eat a piece of chocolate brownie. I can't afford a castle, but today I can pretend to own a castle.
October is season when pumpkins ripen, and castle is decorated with pumpkins.
The guest room is located in a wing of castle, and each room has its own color and decoration.
Open window of room and you will see Liv's castle. Waking up in morning light of castle is perfect experience not to be missed. Having lived in old castle, this trip to castle is considered complete.
Since we were only ones living in castle that night, hostess warmly invited us to dine with her, and all meals were prepared by her.
The Loire Valley is a famous wine region in France and Chateau Livu also has its own brand of wine.
Pumpkin soup, of course, is made from this season's sweet pumpkins. The restaurant in castle will be open for lunch and almost all ingredients are grown in castle itself.
The main dish is grilled chicken and vegetables, taste is very homely. Chickens usually run around castle, so meat is very strong.
Sheep cheese is also a specialty of this region, and taste will be completely different depending on time of its preparation. This night at Liv Castle ended beautifully with a chat with hostess and a night at castle.
(to be continued)