Its just François 1ere's hunting lodge-- no biggie

Trip Start Jan 25, 2010
Trip End Jun 09, 2010

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Flag of France  , Centre,
Saturday, March 6, 2010

We arrived at what was my favorite castle of the day about an hour later. The bus ride wasn't really that bad this time, as she put on the AC and the sun had gone away, so it was starting to look like rain. Naturally, when we got there, it was raining (of course). Chambord was my favorite castle of the day from the outside. This may be biased, as Chenonceau was covered in a tarp, but the architecture was literally beautiful. 

François the 1st, one of my favorite Renaissance kings of France, built this château as his hunting lodge, due to the rich forests of the Sologne countryside (also, rumor is, he built it to be closer to his mistress, the Comtesse de Thoury, who was of a very important noble family at the time). However, in reality, he only spent about 42 days at the castle during his reign. The castle is huge and most of the rooms were kept empty. In reality, he could have housed hundreds and hundreds of people, but he really only ever did use it as a hunting lodge. I think it was to prove his prowess as a king, as it really is a beautiful piece of architecture. I was dumbstruck by how ornate the building one. There were 365 chimneys (and 365 fireplaces) on the roof (the roof itself was gorgeous)-- one for every day of the year it seems. The castle also features 440 rooms and 84 staircases. 

Due to it's Italian style, Chambord is easily one of the most recognizable castles in France, or even the world. It's roofscape alone is incredible. To me, it looked like the skyline of an old European town. There are so many towers of different shapes and sizes. Those, along with the chimneys, give it the look of a skyline. Upon further investigation, I read somewhere the François originally designed it to look like the skyline of Constantinople. Whether this is true or not, I don't know. However, its interesting to think about! 

After the death of François, the castle was abandoned for quite some time, allowing it to fall somewhat into decay. Without a lot of upkeep, the castle seeemed doomed to become rubble. However, Louis XIII gave the château to his brother, who restored the castle. Louis XIV added a 12,000 horse stable and used the castle as his hunting lodge as well. In 1792, the Revolutionary government got its hands on the castle and ordered the sale of all of the furnishings. The castle was basically cleaned out-- floors, doors, wall paintings, furniture, etc. and the castle was left empty and abandoned until Napoléon Bonaparte gave the castle to a friend, who again, restored the castle. The castle was also used as a field hospital during the Franco Prussian War. Eventually, the château became nationalized and it is now owned by the French government. During the second World War, the U.S. left its mark in the castle's history when an american bomber jet crashed onto the lawn of the château.
The most striking thing about the interior of the castle was the double helix staircase, which is one of the more well known constructs of the castle. I have to admit it was very cool. Due to this special feature about the castle, it has been suggested that Leonardo de Vinci may have had something to do with the original designs of the castle. If not the entire castle, then definitely this staircase. François 1 was a patron of the humanities and a lover of the Italian Renaissance and he therefore invited Leonardo de Vinci several times to France, and in one of these exchanges, its possible that François asked him to design his "hunting lodge". 

We did not have much time at the castle (a little less than 2 hours), so the first thing that we did was run to to the top (well-- as far up as we could go). James and I quickly ran around the entire roof, just to say we did it and then took pictures with everyone in front of the architecture. I think this was my favorite part of the castle. The inside was massive, and really beautiful, don't get me wrong, but the outside was simply amazing. You have to see it to understand I think. 

We then proceeded downward, going into all of the rooms that we could find. Kalani and I wanted to see if we could go into as many rooms as we were able to. Naturally, not all of the rooms were open but we still managed to see quite a few. I was counting originally, but then I stopped at around 35. We saw what would have been François the 1st's bedroom, if he had actually lived there and many other bedrooms. The castle was like a museum, like all of the other castles. Many portraits, pictures, statues, clothing, etc. Nothing really jumped out at me, however (and this is mainly for Dr. Borgstrom if he reads this), Ashley and I saw a portrait of Madame de Lafayette in the castle and we got really excited. I don't know if its an original, or a copy, but nobody else knew who she was and we felt really happy that we did, so thank you!

Sadly, all castle explorations have to come to an end and we had to climb back into the bus to return to Angers. It was a fun day and I was exhausted. We played car games on the way home, such as "I'm going on a picnic", or "Green Glass Door", etc. It was a good day, you should do it.
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Dr. B on

Everyone loves Madame de Lafayette!

AW on

Thanks so much for posting this blog! I will be studying in Angers in the fall, and staying with the Brangeons. It was awesome to read through your experiences and learn about what awaits me.

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